BIOLOGIST REPORT

Lower Susquehanna River


Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) southeast Fisheries Management staff conducted their annual adult smallmouth bass assessment on the Susquehanna River from the Safe Harbor Dam tailrace upriver to the York Haven Dam tailrace in September and October. During this survey PFBC biologists collected 392 smallmouth bass in approximately 8 hours of electrofishing. Twenty-two percent of the smallmouth bass captured were >12 inches long while 3% were 15 inches long or longer. PFBC electrofishing results supported angler reports of abundant 12 - 15 inch bass in this portion of the river in 2000. The catch of smallmouth bass >12 inches long since the implementation of a 15 inch minimum length limit in 1993 has averaged more than twice the catch prior to when the 15 inch minimum length limit went into effect. Catches of smallmouth bass >15 inches have remained relatively unchanged. PFBC staff were pleased with the number of 12 - 15 inch bass collected during the survey, indicating that there should be a good number of bass >15 inches available next year provided there is no significant over-winter mortality.

During the annual smallmouth bass electrofishing survey, the biologists have routinely taken the opportunity to collect walleye that are caught in the electrofishing field. Although smallmouth bass sampling has required field personnel to be on the river earlier than preferred for the most efficient walleye sampling, PFBC biologists have handled 1,751 walleye since 1987. The majority (56%) of these fish have been between 8 and 10 inches long. Legal length (15 inches) walleye have comprised 10% of the catch since 1987 while walleye 18 inches and longer have comprised only 2% of the catch.

chart

Clearly the Susquehanna River is capable of producing walleye 18 inches long or longer as fish up to 25 inches have been collected. As was true with the smallmouth bass population prior to establishment of the 15 inch length limit in 1993, it is highly probable that the low number of walleye 18 inches long and longer in the river is a direct result of angler harvest.

-- Fisheries Management Area 6


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