HARRISBURG, Pa. — In a pair of recent reports, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) biologists concluded that the Susquehanna River is home to a healthy, abundant population of smallmouth bass and channel catfish.
From October 22-28, 2018, fisheries biologists conducted nighttime electrofishing surveys targeting adult smallmouth bass at four historic sampling sites located within the middle portion of the Susquehanna River between Clemson Island and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Bridge. Sites surveyed were near Clemson Island, Rockville, the Dock Street Dam and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Bridge near Highspire, Dauphin County.
Of note, the catch rate of smallmouth bass in 2018 was the fifth-highest on record since standardized surveys began in the middle section of the Susquehanna River in 1990. In addition, the surveys revealed a strong population of adult bass ranging in size from 6 to 20-inches, as well as record numbers of trophy-sized bass measuring 18-inches or longer.
“The findings of this survey continue to reveal a strong smallmouth bass population,” said Geoff Smith, PFBC Susquehanna River Biologist. “Because we’re seeing fish in all size categories, we believe the population will remain strong for years to come.”
In a second report, PFBC biologists outlined the findings of adult channel catfish surveys conducted between 2016 to 2018. During this time, biologists surveyed eleven sites; six in the middle section of the Susquehanna River extending from Sunbury to York Haven, and five in the lower Susquehanna River from York Haven to the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge.
Using commercial catfish bait, biologists collected thousands of channel catfish ranging in length from 12 to 31-inches. While equipment used in the survey is not capable of collecting younger fish, typically those under 12-inches, the number of catfish in the angler-preferred length of 24-inches or longer was good in both the middle and lower sections of the river with no evidence of overfishing.
The entire smallmouth bass report and channel catfish reports can be found at www.fishandboat.com.