Susky Flatties

larkmark

larkmark

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Mike, So declining habitat is the number one reason for less bass and sunfish and Rock Bass? Then pollution would be number two. And Flatheads number three? Or are you saying Flatheads have zero impact?
Every Flathead I catch is going on the bank or in the garden. I actually ate a couple too and prefer them to Channel Catfish.
 
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poopdeck

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Susquehanna wrote:
Completely disagree.

The two fish have lived together for much longer than there has been bass in the Susquehanna in there native range. They have lived together longer than our ancestors have been here and they still coexist in the Ohio River. This is not an absurd argument or one than can be defeated.
It is just fact.

It is almost like you are taking the PFBC approach to Brook trout. Brook Trout biologically act differently above the Mason Dixon Line the same way Smallies and Flatheads coexist differently across some imaginary line.
That is the absurd part.

All your evidence is antedotal and not scientific. However if you think the river isn't worth fishing for bass anymore I will defer.
It leaves one less on the river targeting bass.

Until someone can explain how Flathead are responsible for Disease-related mortality of young smallmouth bass that was first documented in the Susquehanna River in 2005, I don't buy it. Or how Flathead are responsible for excessive high water at the wrong time of the year causing poor YOY, I don't buy it.

In the years that followed young bass seemed to disappear and adult smallmouths had lesions, blotchy skin, and open sores.

It is obvious pollution is a far bigger issue.
There is a lot of evidence of this rather than "my experience."

Again, I never said they do not live in the same river systems. I never said they don't cohabitat. In fact I said they do. There is just way less SMB where there are flatheads. You may be the only angler who thinks the bass fishing on the Delaware river in the flatheads range is fine. I know guides who no longer do guided bass trips on the Delaware because the bass fishing is that poor. Care to guess where they go? No not the Ohio river, the susky of course. Your limited knowledge of the Delaware river is on full display in your post.

I'm not saying the flatheads are responsible for diseased bass on the Susky. By the way, the Delaware does not have the diseased bass like the susky bass so that's out as a reason for the Delawares problem.

I'm not saying pollution is not a problem on the susky. All I'm saying is be glad you don't have a flathead problem on the susky as well. All I'm saying is you guys on the susky should recognize the flathead as the bass eating fishery killing machine that it is. One thing I'm sure of is the susky bass fishing cannot handle pollution and flatheads. So believe what you want to believe and pray the susky never bass fishes like the Ohio river or the Delaware river.
 
Susquehanna

Susquehanna

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Again, I never said they do not live in the same river systems. I never said they don't cohabitat. In fact I said they do. There is just way less SMB where there are flatheads. You may be the only angler who thinks the bass fishing on the Delaware river in the flatheads range is fine. I know guides who no longer do guided bass trips on the Delaware because the bass fishing is that poor. Care to guess where they go? No not the Ohio river, the susky of course. Your limited knowledge of the Delaware river is on full display in your post.

I'm not saying the flatheads are responsible for diseased bass on the Susky. By the way, the Delaware does not have the diseased bass like the susky bass so that's out as a reason for the Delawares problem.

I'm not saying pollution is not a problem on the susky. All I'm saying is be glad you don't have a flathead problem on the susky as well. All I'm saying is you guys on the susky should recognize the flathead as the bass eating fishery killing machine that it is. One thing I'm sure of is the susky bass fishing cannot handle pollution and flatheads. So believe what you want to believe and pray the susky never bass fishes like the Ohio river or the Delaware river.

And I never said you didn't :lol:
I also never said or eluded to anything Delaware River.
The Facebook post that was referring too and commenting on is Joe Raymond's that Fredrick posted , which is from the Susquehanna.

As far as no diseased bass on the Delaware:

ignorance on full display

Those pesky biologist reports that don't reaffirm those strong held beliefs that an anglers fly rod is a good sampling tool :lol:
The report states that the diseased YOY are not going to affect the fishing, yet it exists during low flow and high heat.
These things are further exasperated on the Susquehanna through channeling of tributary water that does not mix with the mainstems flow and sticks to the riverbanks.

Again even in that report it hints to why the Delaware River has poor bass fishing.
Nothing to which is the fault of the Flathead.
Weather and water cycles are changing in water laden with pollution, chemicals and bacteria.


So now full disclosure. I do not fish the Delaware. I fish the Susquehanna. My comments were in regard to the Susquehanna but yes many of the same issues apply.

Smallmouth Bass are disappearing everywhere. It again has very little to do with Flatheads and everything to do with pollution.

Substrate is predominantly sand, coal sand, gravel, silt and Asiatic Clam shells. In fact, when one looks at the bottom from shore to shore what one typically sees is clam shells other than in the occasional riffles, occasional because of low gradient, which exacerbates the sedimentation problem. Is there any wonder why reproduction is poor?
It’s like an underwater desert. That said, there is a little bit of lower river reproduction that still occurs in one of the rare remaining rocky areas away from fast moving water near Bridgeport. If Flatheads were limiting, why would that be occurring in the very heart of Flathead country?

Good Luck Mike.
 
Susquehanna

Susquehanna

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https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29595890/

If you don't fix this you won't have to worry, the Flatheads will fix themselves by starving to death because the bass will be gone anyways :idea:
 
Susquehanna

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another great link
Here is a great link for anyone looking more into the issues Smallmouth Bass are facing with pollution, changing weather patterns, disease and poor YOY.

You can even compare the Delaware and Susquehanna. They have difference in hydraulics, temps and depths but they have more in common than they don't. The Ohio River is facing many of the same problems as is the Potomac, James , .........the list goes on and on.

You can't begin to even worry about Flatheads until these issues are addressed because it won't matter.

IMO both are impossible fixes but let's just demonize the Catfish.
It's just easier that way.

 
M

Mike

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Lower Delaware R ......
Weak SMB year classes below to well below the median in 2009, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019 with flathead densities so low that they (possibly 1 or some other extremely low number) only showed up in night electrofishing in a recent year (I think possibly 2020). I don’t see Flatheads being the problem with the SMB fishing in the lower Delaware when SMB year class strength, controlled by spring flows, has certainly been much less than desirable so often in the past 12 yrs and from 2013-2017 for anglers fishing last year.
 
Susquehanna

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This^
 
Fly-Swatter

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Assuming the flatheads and smallmouth evolved to coexist (as previously implied), They should reach an equilibrium where the predators (flatheads) suppress the prey (smallmouth) population. Then, as a result, the predator population is suppressed due to lack of prey. I realize this is an oversimplification, but it is a solid principle.

Of course, outside variables (pollution, weather/water levels & temps, year classes, etc.) matter and can affect the equilibrium level.

My guess is the biggest, most obvious impact of adding flatheads to the susky would be noticed early in the introduction before that equilibrium level is established. In other words, now?

Ecosystems are complex and my statements are simple. I'm sure there are exceptions and problems with these thoughts.
 
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Mike

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By the way, Susquehanna, I enjoyed your reference to “pesky” biologist reports. Never heard it phrased that way. Glad you included some in addition to the hot off the press one that I referenced regarding the Delaware R SMB population from years of study.

I would also specifically call people’s attention to the Michigan State study of the Susquehanna YOY disease problem brought on by warm water temps, which appeared in your list of references. They were able to produce the same response in the lab as was seen in YOY in the Susquehanna.

Fly swatter’s comment that refers generally to the route that introductions take at the population level is dead on in my real-world experience. The populations of introduced aquatic organisms grow exponentially once they get a good start, then growth and abundance tails off (usually) and eventually reaches some equilibrium well below peak level. Unfortunately, for some organisms that equilibrium is still at a high population density in some systems while in others it is at a low population density after having hit an extremely high density at one point, eating themselves out of house and home. Good example of the former: Lake Galena white perch, Bucks Co. Good example of the latter: Lake Nockamixon white perch, Bucks Co. Two lakes about 10 mi apart.

Given the length of the Susquehanna and its major tribs, the flathead populations are in various stages of growth depending upon the location. It would not surprise me if it would be later found that they peaked in recent years or will very soon in the lower Susquehanna, given the sizes of adults that are now being produced and their cannibalistic habits. Note also that young flatheads up to 18 inches feed very heavily on crayfish and it just so happened that when flatheads were introduced to the Susquehanna rusty crayfish, another exotic, were extremely abundant, providing an ideal forage base for the first year classes of flatheads to kick start the population in a big way.

But no, no we are to believe that while flatheads were and are surrounded by a perfect forage base of abundant crayfish (at least then), gizzard shad, shiners, suckers, quillback, channel cats, and carp, they prefer to search out the much less abundant predator, the SMB, even in the face of a very abundant, fusiform, easily caught and consumed predator in the lower Susquehanna, the walleye. This reminds me of how LMB anglers in certain circles blame poor LMB fishing on Muskellunge, despite a Wisconsin stomach analysis of over 1000 muskies that showed bass being about 3% of the contents (yellow perch were the primary diet). Most predators are opportunistic (flatheads classified as opportunistic) and focus on prey that are most abundant and require the least energy to capture.
 
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Mike

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Fortunately, this debate regarding flathead food preference in the Susquehanna may, as I recall, have light shone on it in the not too distant future. Again, IF I recall correctly, a stomach content study has been proposed. If and when that occurs I will be the first to admit I was wrong if SMB represent much of the flathead diet. From my viewpoint, it will be fascinating to see the results, even if I have to eat crow, especially if results are broken down by flathead size groups and by season.
 
jifigz

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Mike, you bring a much valued alternate perspective to this forum than most members present..I thank you for your input.
 
raftman

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Mike,

It's rare that I feel I actually learn something new from Internet forums. Thank you for the really engaging, well written posts - especially 29 and 30 (and the word "fusiform" is now going to be part of my vocabulary!). Your insight is much appreciated!

- Michael
 
jifigz

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I was talking to a distant relative yesterday who has begun targeting flatheads here in the Juniata after he accidentally caught one while bass fishing. His first flathead ate a stonecat. Since he caught that fish, he has all but quit bass fishing and now he is chasing flatheads. Last year he caught 30 of them with the largest being 24 lbs. All of his fish came from the Newton Hamilton/Mt. Union area. He firmly believes that the flathead is going to decimate the smallmouth population.

I think that the smallmouths will be fine. They will be reduced for a while, but a good smallmouth fishery will remain in the Juniata. The flatties and the smallies will reach an equilibrium. It is and will be fine. It may just be different than you're used to, and that's okay.

I put together a heavy duty spinning rod with 20 lb mono for flatheads. I used to love fishing for channels, this year I am targeting channels or flatheads.
 
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poopdeck

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Mike wrote:
Fortunately, this debate regarding flathead food preference in the Susquehanna may, as I recall, have light shone on it in the not too distant future. Again, IF I recall correctly, a stomach content study has been proposed. If and when that occurs I will be the first to admit I was wrong if SMB represent much of the flathead diet. From my viewpoint, it will be fascinating to see the results, even if I have to eat crow, especially if results are broken down by flathead size groups and by season.

I wouldn't say anybody is right or wrong without something a little more long term. Of course I have no idea how a stomach content study is done but I'm hoping it's a more long term study. I'm pretty what will be found in a flathead stomach would change according to the time of year. You are right in that the results should be rather fascinating to see. I can't wait.
 
larkmark

larkmark

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Bass, sunfish and Rock Bass populations in lower Susquehanna were already hurting before the Flatheads came that's for sure. I look forward to the study. One reason I connect the Flathead to the bass disappearing is that they arrived at the lower end of river and made their way north. The bass and other fish seem to be disappearing in that same progression. I do not know if there is a connection.
 
Fredrick

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Even before the removal of a few dams on the Skuke the smallmouth population in areas that I would catch them in numbers the fish completely disappeared. They even shocked an area looking for shad that I would have productive days on prior to the flathead invasion and found it completely devoid of smallmouth .
 
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JeffK

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I lived from 1984 to 1989 in the Fox R valley in Illinois about 35 mi west of Chicago. The Fox R has a flow of about 1500 cfs in the summer so it is a decent sized stream. It was an incredibly fertile stream with large numbers of smallmouth (I caught a few 5 lbs ones), walleyes, crappies, and channel cats, especially since it was mainly in a suburban area. The top predators were muskies and flatheads and both topped 20 lbs and there were specialists who targeted both. The musky guys liked big muskie plugs, the flathead guys liked live sunfish.

All these fish were native and seemed to get along just fine.
 
Susquehanna

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This^
 
M

Mike

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I can’t speak to the flavor of the river flatheads, but we just ate our first, baked flathead fillet from a lake. It was from a Blue Marsh 15 lb fish and was quite good. Brown meat was removed in the filleting process, so all meat was white. The flavor was very mild and the meat moist and flaky. Before baking in a covered dish I squirted lemon juice on it, sprinkled some pepper and lemon pepper, and added cut fresh parsley from the garden.
 
Fredrick

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57.8 pound flattie was just caught on the Susky its pending a new state record
 

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