Susquehanna spawning conditions

Padraic

Padraic

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Has anyone heard how the Susquehanna is doing? Is there any reason to hope that the smallmouth will have good conditions for the spawn?

My fear is that the only answer to the conditions there is that all the sewage treatment plants have to be upgraded. If that's the case, things could be bad for years before they get better.
 
W

Woolybugger

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Pad,

I fish the Susquehanna all the time and I have mixed feelings about that Heavenly Water.
Rain and near flooding all spring this year had the Susquehanna so diluted that I had the best year in the last 10! Wrightsville for the past 5 years was a dead zone. No fish and a smelly cesspool. But this year started off with a bang!
With all the high, brown water the last 2 weeks in March and all of April, I took my 8wt and caught dozens of huge bass every time I went out. Rain or cold front....... it didn't matter. The high water pushes the big spawners to the shoreline. All the bass stay at the first drop off about 10' feet from shore. This is one time that a flyrod is better than a spin. I bumped a size 4 black leadeye woolybugger along the bottom, only 15' of line, and caught so many bass that you wouldn't believe me!! LOL
I don't know what happened! Where did the fish go? Do they swim 50 miles downstream or do they die after spawing?
In May it slowed down quite a bit. After several fishless days, I only fished for trout and I even grabbed my spin rod.
Frustrated, I moved upstream to Harrisburg and Marysville and Perdix! Nothing with my flyrod, so I grabbed my spin and caught a couple. Yamamoto plastics on a jighead with invis braid is pretty hard to match with a flyrod and chicken feathers!
I know the spawn is on and almost over. I caught 3 bass today with spin gear.
But........ I see quite a few dead bass every time I go out anymore. I don't see the fry in the shallows anymore.
This "wackey weather" has everything screwed up. I still have my fingers crossed, but 10 years ago if I would have fished the same area I did today...... with a 6wt, I would have caught 75 smallmouth bass and 25 rockbass.
I know we are in for drastic fish declines and drastic polluted river conditions, but fishing is what I do, it's all I do, and I will hang in there until the end! I'll give the bass a rest for a week. Maybe in June I'll catch a few with my flyrod.
Tomorrow I'll use my flyrod and go to the local stockie streams. It's still fun to catch tiny trout with a 3wt and tiny flies, but not as much fun as to catch a sunfish with a 3wt! I just wish the water wasn't so stinkin' shallow!
 
JustFish

JustFish

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What about the northern stretches? Is the condition any better further upstream or is it the whole stretch in PA that is being affected?
 
MattBoyer

MattBoyer

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JustFish wrote:
What about the northern stretches? Is the condition any better further upstream or is it the whole stretch in PA that is being affected?

I have no data to prove this and it's just my opinion, but it seems to have gotten much better from Sunbury and up in the last 10 years. My buddy has a camp up in Jersey Shore and we used to catch nothing but carp(not that I have a problem with this), cats and the occasional rock bass there. It's been darn good fishin' the last few years. It seems most of the fishkills were from the Juniata down, although my favorite spots in Millersburg ain't been doin' so hot the last 3 or 4 years either.

Boyer
 
JustFish

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Mattboyer,

I fished by Sunbury last year and did pretty good with a spinning rod. However, I am gonna hit it hard with the fly rod in July and August after I get the cast off my leg. Your recommending Sunbury and north then?
 
JustFish

JustFish

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I also thought there were spec. regs areas south? Does anyone know yet what the heck is going on with the decline in fish numbers?
 
R

RustyRat

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I've only casually followed all of the talk about the warm water out of the electric plant, the spawning torn up by bad water conditions and the sewage issue. Is there a root cause for the dissapearance of the SB or is it a combination of all of these?
 
shipnfish2006

shipnfish2006

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The "special regs" is just the big bass program which starts at the bridge in Sunbury if I remember correctly. I have found from about Liverpool north, the fishing definitely picks up. It seems the further north you go the better. Also I've been picking up a lot of nice walleyes up that way so it makes the cost of gas worth it when I bring home a limit of walleyes for dinner and the freezer.
 
JustFish

JustFish

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shipnfish2006 wrote:
The "special regs" is just the big bass program which starts at the bridge in Sunbury if I remember correctly. I have found from about Liverpool north, the fishing definitely picks up. It seems the further north you go the better. Also I've been picking up a lot of nice walleyes up that way so it makes the cost of gas worth it when I bring home a limit of walleyes for dinner and the freezer.

Are you using the fly rod? Is it fairly wadeable like the lower stretches?
 
shipnfish2006

shipnfish2006

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I carried both fly and spin tackle. It seems I was catching a lot of the smallies on flies and a lot of the walleyes on spin gear with a few here and there on flies. Big stonefly and hellgramite nymphs, black wooly bugger (dead drifted), and krystal buggers accounted for a lot of fish. The river is wadable in some spots, but you need to pick your areas carefully. From just north of the Isle of Que boat launch and up I wouldn't suggest wading even when the river is at 3.1 at Harrisburg, as it is pretty dang deep from there up in most areas. The train bridge at the Isle of Que is my cutoff point when it comes to wading.
 
Dances_With_Brookies

Dances_With_Brookies

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The Susky was a huge disappointment last year. I can attest to the sewage problems plaguing the river as I fished in the Dauphin area several times over the course of the summer. I saw very few fish, caught even fewer, and the odor emanating from the river was flat out putrid. I did find however, that the fishing got much better in the Millersburg area and all points north. A friend of mine who is an attorney representing the borough of Dauphin, Halifax, and Millersburg told me to keep tabs on the situation as it is going to come to a head soon. The sewer plants are failing in large part because they are being taxed beyond their limits due to increases in population and shortage of $$$ to make necessary upgrades. Jokingly, he said that Rendell may have to lease I-81 in order to come up with the necessary funding in order to clean up the river sufficiently to support bass populations in proportions to prior year surveys. The comment was funny at the time, but the more thought that I give it, the closer to the truth it really is. I used to intern for the CBF and this problem is nothing new and directly attributable to the demise of the Bay.
 
tabasco_joe

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Dances_With_Brookies wrote:
The Susky was a huge disappointment last year. I can attest to the sewage problems plaguing the river as I fished in the Dauphin area several times over the course of the summer. I saw very few fish, caught even fewer, and the odor emanating from the river was flat out putrid. I did find however, that the fishing got much better in the Millersburg area and all points north. A friend of mine who is an attorney representing the borough of Dauphin, Halifax, and Millersburg told me to keep tabs on the situation as it is going to come to a head soon. The sewer plants are failing in large part because they are being taxed beyond their limits due to increases in population and shortage of $$$ to make necessary upgrades. Jokingly, he said that Rendell may have to lease I-81 in order to come up with the necessary funding in order to clean up the river sufficiently to support bass populations in proportions to prior year surveys. The comment was funny at the time, but the more thought that I give it, the closer to the truth it really is. I used to intern for the CBF and this problem is nothing new and directly attributable to the demise of the Bay.

Is it really the sewage plants causing the problem? The whole water shed has tremendous agricultural activity. Lots of untreated animal waste and fertilizer run off. I see some of the same issues on feeder creeks that don't have sewage plants but have lots of dairy farms.
 
PennsCreek

PennsCreek

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The sewage plants do play a part in the problem because of all the nitrogen and phosphorous that is put into the river, depriving it of oxygen. They are also cracking down and lowering effluent limits because sewage plants are much easier to regulate compared to the agricultural sector. The farmers get away with alot because it is very hard to enforce the laws on that much land in the state.
A big part of the problem comes from the spreading of manure on fields, yes they are required to have it turned into the soil within 24 hours of application but how can that really be enforced on the big scale. I was rabbit hunting a farm down in lancaster county this past winter and witnessed the neighboring farmer spread manure on his field that day. The weather was in the low 30's that day and had been much colder earlier in the week. So the ground was pretty much frozen so the manure could not be turned in and then it rained the very next day, where do you think all the manure ended up. Just some food for thought.
 
S

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As the Susquehanna's population has declined, the Allegheny's smallmouth population has taken off.
So, what lessons can we garner from this? The Susquehanna has all that rediculous habitat. The Allegheny has nothing like this at all. This hasn't changed, of course. However, the water quality and possibly the water stability of the Allegheny has gotten much, much better. Most water in the Allegheny that I fish comes from resiviors (Tionesta and Kinzua). I don't have any information about the river flows from 15 or 20 years back, but one thing that I have heard MENTIONED was that the Army Corps would shut the flows way down to keep water in the resiviors for water skiing over Memorial Day and what ever else. Perfect, right? So this water drop would leave a lot of spawning beds, which I found to be in about 18 inches of water, high and dry, killing all the eggs. So, like the Delaware, it's a water management issue.

The next big issue for the Allegheny was sewage pollution from all the cabins, camps and houses along it's banks. Anyone who's traveled along this river, especially the upper parts, will recognize it as a nearly continuous residential city, miles long, stuck in the middle of relative wilderness. All the sewage from these residences put a great hurtin' on the river's ecosystem. As a child, I remember it as being choked with that milfoil or coon tail weed and it smelled like dead carp. To the chargrin of the "Gumment cain' tell me what ta do" crowd, new regs made modern sewage systems and treatment the law. Since then, EVERYTHING has gotten better. What I believe, and it's only a hypothesis, is that the 1st year survival rates got a lot better. A reason for this is that the improved water conditions allowed more mayflies to thrive and provide baby smallies food back in the areas they live. There are loads of little mayflies sitting on the water throughout the season an I see baby smallies picking them off in the eddies and deep rock water. While smallies are fairly pollution tolerant, the mayflies are not. Cleaning the river intiated this survival chain that has the smallmouth population growning.

Now,the Susquehanna is so HAMMERED with effluent and runoff, it jumps right out of my paradigm. Have you frequenters of the Susquehanna noticed a drop-off in mayflies? This could be one reason, but if you dump enough chemicals and sewage into a river system, it ruins everything.

Syl
 
W

Woolybugger

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So very true! I fish the Susquehanna all the time, it's my Nirvana. But how can you say the Allegheny is any better? I fish there also, and it stinks like a cesspool! Actually there are more people flushing their toilets in the Allegheny than the Susquehanna...... and more stupid farmers putting pig poop and urine on the fields that runoff to the water!
Overpopulation is the problem. All the rivers can never be as good as they were before! Every square foot of wilderness is bought by someone and a stinkin' house or strip mall is built on it!!
The multi-millions are flushing their toilets every nano second and tossing their trash out the window..... it all goes to the river!
I flyfish all the time, that's what I do, and I can see what the future has to offer us fishermen.
Enjoy while you can. Everywhere on our planet all fish species are in a major decline.
I also saltwater fish. It's enough to make you cry.
Oil has "peaked" and thank God for that!! When oil is $15 a gallon, we will be forced to use something else besides fossil fuels!
6.4 billion is too many, 9.2 billion is way too many!! We have to go back to "pre oil" days!! Less than 1 billion on this planet would be great for us fishermen.
WW3 just might be a good thing after all! Unless some of you educated folks can make a virus that will "eliminate" 90% of the worlds' population.
Sorry for being so truthful...... I'm a educated guy that loves to go fishing.
 
henrydavid

henrydavid

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Wooly, I'm afraid I'm in agreement with you, sad to admit it, but I believe you're right.
 
tabasco_joe

tabasco_joe

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PennsCreek wrote:
The sewage plants do play a part in the problem because of all the nitrogen and phosphorous that is put into the river, depriving it of oxygen. They are also cracking down and lowering effluent limits because sewage plants are much easier to regulate compared to the agricultural sector. The farmers get away with alot because it is very hard to enforce the laws on that much land in the state.
A big part of the problem comes from the spreading of manure on fields, yes they are required to have it turned into the soil within 24 hours of application but how can that really be enforced on the big scale. I was rabbit hunting a farm down in lancaster county this past winter and witnessed the neighboring farmer spread manure on his field that day. The weather was in the low 30's that day and had been much colder earlier in the week. So the ground was pretty much frozen so the manure could not be turned in and then it rained the very next day, where do you think all the manure ended up. Just some food for thought.

Here is why I have trouble believing the problem is primarily related to sewage plants. The population of Pennsylvania has only grown 5% since 1970. The sewage treatment standards have continuously improved and many more communities are on treatment now than in the 1970s. The problem with the Susquehanna seems to be getting worse or at least peaked recently. So the effect of sewage should be constantly improving rather than causing further decreases in stream water quality. It seems counter intuitive to be a sewage problem.
 
Padraic

Padraic

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tobasco,

I've been thinking the same thing. What I've been wondering is if all the pig farms that folks have been complaining about are the issue. There has been a growth in that industry in recent past.
 
Maurice

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My throey is the past five years the Susky has experienced "the perfect storm". Three of the past five years the river flooded either before or during the spawn and left the reds either on high ground or swept them away. Along with the low water during several dry summers, the high water temps exacerbated the growth of columnaris (sp?) the disease that was wiping out the young bass and other panfish.

Chalk it up to climate change. If we are dealt a good hand this summer, the yoy should fair well because we did not experience the flooding this spring as we did in years past.

Thats the way I see it through my rose colored glasses.
 
W

Woolybugger

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"Thats the way I see it through my rose colored glasses."

Good for you, it's good to look for something positive in everything. Years ago, when I was a young, stupid Church Guy, I took a course "Possibility Thinking" by Robert Schuller. Very nice, but only rose colored glasses! I was after some truth, and he was after my money! LOL
I also have my fingers crossed. I hope this will be a great year for the Susquehanna. I hate to brag, but if anyone can catch some smallmouth bass with a flyrod in that river......... that would be me!!
But I also don't have my head in the sand! I can see all the dead fish, all the stink, all the snotgrass, all the stinkin' mud on the bottom that once was gravel, the lack of small bass, the lack of rockbass, all the plastic crap in the river and all the houses and all the posted signs and all the stinkin' boats and all the cormorants and all the stinkin' people!
Everyone hates Al Gore, because he is a slow talking liberal, so nobody watched "An Inconvenient Truth" or any of the other Planet Pollution movies.
Global Warming is causing "wackey weather" just turn on the TV and see all the killer tornadoes. Look at all the people in China choking from the sulfur stink in the air.
The world is too overpopulated! We can't wait until Jesus comes down from the clouds on a white horse with a sword in his hand to kill the non believers! Can you imagine if Jesus really came down on a white horse with a sword in his hand and had to fight a dozen F14's with lazer guided missiles and smart bombs?
Fishing will never be the same until the population goes down to the population of the great fishing days! 1/10th of what it is now!!
My 2 cents
 
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