Susquehanna spawning conditions

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Fishidiot

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I'll be the first to admit that I don't know the answer as to why the Susky bass population crashed. I fish the lower Juniata and it crashed just as badly as the Susky as far as I can tell. This suggests to me that sewage plants in Dauphin Co can't be the entire problem - there must be similar problems in towns from Lewistown down to Newport. Moreover, if aging/failing sewage systems are the main problem, I would think other areas upstream would have been hit just as hard. Has anyone seen studies on water quality in different sections of the Susky? I do know there have been studies on columnaris indicating its prevalence in the lower Susky and Juniata. If there are specific sewage plants that are the problem it ought to be fairly easy to pinpoint them. Are there not aging sewage systems on the Allegheny and upper Susky? I also find the claim that "low, warm water" explains the lack of fish to be unconvincing. Back in the nineties we looked forward to very low water in the summer because it made for easy wading and you could catch dozens of fish every evening in the Dauphin Narrows, an area where I have have had very poor fishing the last few years. I still see tremendous numbers of crayfish and the white flies are still coming off (at least they were in 05 and 06) so lack of forage can't be a problem. As the saying goes, "more studies are needed." I remain skeptical of those who claim with certitude that they know the reasons for the decline of bass in these river systems.
 
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Woolybugger

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""Back in the nineties we looked forward to very low water in the summer because it made for easy wading and you could catch dozens of fish every evening in the Dauphin Narrows, an area where I have have had very poor fishing the last few years.""

You bring back such wonderful memories that it almost makes me cry!
The Dauphin Narrows and upstream in Perdix is where I used to wet wade all the time in the late 80's and the 90's. The fishing was Nirvana.
Standing in 3' of clear water, at mid day, in the bright sun, I could see lots of 10" smallmouth bass all over the place. The bass were so thick, they were "pesty" When I put a streamer in front of me to see how it looked in the water, a small bass would smack it right in front of me! LOL I always had to jerk the fly out of the water.
You talk about "dozen" days, but I can remember 100+ days! Mostly small bass, 10" to 14", but that's just fine with me. I could catch some huge bass, but that would involve a spin rod with a big spook at sun up. I like the action much better. Even so, I always got my share of huge bass with the tiny lures on a 6wt.
You're correct, we can't just blame the sewer plants. And it's all over. The salt water fishing is only 5% of what it was 30 years ago.
IMHO I can see huge changes in the Susquehanna since the 90's.
- Mud on the bottom. Before it was a gravel bottom clean water paradise.
- Sick fish. Sores on some and I still remember the millions of dying YOY gasping for breath in 03' at the Narrows.
- Fully exploited fish. All the Penrod boats make me sick, and all the jets going over the same area every day with the same stinkin' green pumpkin tubes. Good God, why don't those guys try a flyrod or at least use a different lure?
- Every time it rains now, we get the smelly brown water. Too much concrete and too many people living near the water.
- I C&R everything today, but back then I kept a few for table fare. Smallmouth grow about 4" a year, and if we had anything but horrible conditions there should be millions of bass in the Narrows area. Even 8"ers, I'd be happy with that....... nice fun with a 5wt!
I didn't take pix back then, but the memories are as clear as day to me.
No more whining. I still catch a few, very few, and with a nice flyrod it is truly a pleasure.
 
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troutbert

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Regarding upstream areas on the Susque. The summer loads of bass were dying a friend and I fished the river several places between the New York line and Wilkes-Barre. There were loads of juvenile bass dying up there too. They were all along the margins of the river. Thousands of them. We didn't see any dead adult bass though.
 
JustFish

JustFish

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This ia very depressing!!!!!!!!
 
MattBoyer

MattBoyer

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Wooly's last post took me back to the 80's in Millersburg. I was a spin fisherman only back then, and whenever I'd change Mr Twisters I would leave the line hang in the water while I put my pill bottle full of lures away. 9 times out of ten you would have a smallie on the other end of the line when you picked it up. I've often wondered if the big bass regs allows for too many breeding sized fish and they are just overbreeding themselves and causing disease such as columnaris to break out. Either way, I miss those days.

Boyer
 
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troutbert

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I've often wondered if the big bass regs allows for too many breeding sized fish and they are just overbreeding themselves and causing disease such as columnaris to break out. Either way, I miss those days.

I don't think so because a friend and I fished way up above Towanda, not far from the New York line and they were dying off up there too. That's a very long way from the big bass regs area.

It also seems to indicate that the problems are not just here in PA, because as far upstream as we were, most of the drainage was coming from New York state.
 
Maurice

Maurice

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TB,

When did you see the bass dying? was it this year, last, or '03 in reference to the other posters?

It wasn't clear in your post, at least not to me.

Maurice
 
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troutbert

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Maurice wrote:
TB,

When did you see the bass dying? was it this year, last, or '03 in reference to the other posters?

It wasn't clear in your post, at least not to me.

Maurice

Maurice, I checked my notes. It was August 6, 7, 2005. That was the year there was a lot of news about die-offs in the lower Susque. So we went to the upper river hoping to avoid that. In a correction to my last post, we fished around Tunkhannock, not Towanda, on the first day. Then fished above Tunkhannock on the second day. And there were loads of dying juvenile bass in that section. These areas are well above Wilkes-Barre, so very far upriver from the Harrisburg area.

I'm not saying the river is dead up there by any means. We caught some adult bass. And we didn't see any adult bass dying. Just hordes of the little ones.

The fishing was slow, but my theory was that the adult bass were probably gorged from eating the dying juveniles. It might be good fishing there this year. I'm hoping someone local will give us a report.
 
wingshot

wingshot

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Dear woolybugger,

I would like to know where it was on the Allegheny that as you said "smells like a sewer", I fish that river quite frequently and many of the northern stretches are pristine, clean and clear and some of the best smallmouth fishing I personally have ever had. The "Wild Area" declaration was the best thing that ever happened to the stretch of water that I fish and our biologists should be looking hard at what is going right for that fishery so they can figure out whats wrong with the Susky. The Little J is another huge success story as well. Please do not try to pass off the "convenient lie" (what I like to call it) of global warming as the culprit when the state looks the other way at agribusiness dumping their crap in the water and killing off the invertebra and fish life.

JA
 
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Woolybugger

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wingshot,
That was a bit south of you. It was summer 05' and I never went back!
I'm glad the Allegheny is still great fishing. I won't blame anything on Global Warming. So sorry.

But please, two questions:
- Does the Allegheny still have a gravel bottom? or are you seeing mud on the bottom? And snotgrass, do you have any?
- Do you have a good supply of small bass? Any dead fish floating down the river? Finally, any sores on the fish you catch?
 
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Woolybugger

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""Wooly's last post took me back to the 80's in Millersburg. I was a spin fisherman only back then, and whenever I'd change Mr Twisters I would leave the line hang in the water while I put my pill bottle full of lures away. 9 times out of ten you would have a smallie on the other end of the line when you picked it up. I've often wondered if the big bass regs allows for too many breeding sized fish and they are just overbreeding themselves and causing disease such as columnaris to break out. Either way, I miss those days.""

Matt, do you also post on River Smallies?
I also miss those days. I started with a spin rod also!! No bragging, but I think I might have been the first to use a 2" smoke grub on a 1/32oz head to catch over 100 smallmouth bass every time I went out!! LOL I would get a bass on every cast so I started using different lures...... and then a flyrod!
Times are changing rapidly, so you should be glad that you fished as often as you did back in the "good old days" Fishing will never be as great as it was...... but I loved every minute that I fished in the wonderful paradise called the Susquehanna.
 
yea-who

yea-who

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Being unemployed i have been down the river about 15 times in the past 2 1/2 weeks. and killing smallmouth with beadheaded buggers grizzly w/ black body. with 3 wraps of weight before the chenelle. if you don't feel the bottom your out of luck. the biggest was 16 inches on saturday. it was a she because it was fat ready to pop with the eggs in side.
 
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Woolybugger

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yea-who.
Where do you flyfish on the Susquehanna?
Way to go, bro!
Please send some pix with a report.
 
Padraic

Padraic

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I was just looking at the Harrisburg guage. Wow! The water is getting really hot already. Almost 90 degrees during the recent heat wave!
 
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Woolybugger

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Yea the water is hot!!! Too hot to fish in the daytime. I'm hard core and I went out in the heat spell!! LOL I almost passed out from the heat! No fish, they hide in the shade and wait for the sun to go down.
Another strange thing on the river today:
The White Miller hatch usually starts in mid July around Wrightsville and works it way upstream to Perdix and lasts until the end of August.
Today, or tonight June 11 the hatch started in the Susquehanna at Wrightsville.



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wingshot

wingshot

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woolybugger,

Sorry for the slow reply, (fishing you know) but can tell you that the upper Allegheny from Oil City down to Emlenton has a rocky bottom with lots of gravel with some deep slow moving holes that collect silt, mud etc. The rocky water is what I concentrate on and we catch SM in all year classes. My last two July trips have been very succesfull as far as numbers landed on the fly rod, not many over 18inches. When I hook up with my wifes cousins on the jet boat we frequently catch 20 inch plus fish with live bait caught out of the riffles dead drifted in deeper water. An added bonus is the occasional walleye or if the bait is large enough a northern or two and once in while some of resident muskies. It is the most reliable fishery I know of in mid-summer providing the water level stays low. I know the power boaters don't like those conditions but us kayak fishermen love it!

JA
 
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