Biologist reports logo Allegheny River

Allegheny County
June 2-3, 2004
Sampling Gear: Night electrofishing

The PA Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) conducted night electrofishing surveys in the tailwaters of two Allegheny River Dams: Lock and Dam 3 at Harmarville and Lock and Dam 2 (Highland Park Dam) at Sharpsburg. The Allegheny River was surveyed by the PFBC to target the bass, walleye, and sauger populations and to document the overall number of fish species. The Allegheny River has quality recreational fishing opportunities due to good water quality and productive habitat. The top three fish species that anglers fish for in the Allegheny River are walleye, smallmouth bass, and sauger. To add to the fishing opportunities, the PFBC stocks fingerling muskellunge on odd years and fingerling tiger muskellunge on even years in the Harmarville pool. The PFBC stocks hybrid striped bass fingerlings annually in the Sharpsburg pool. The Allegheny River during our survey was somewhat high and muddy. These river conditions were not ideal for our electrofishing and may have negatively affected our total fish catch.

Area 8 Fisheries Manager Rick Lorson with smallmouth bass from Sharpsburg
Area 8 Fisheries Manager Rick Lorson with smallmouth bass from Sharpsburg

Smallmouth bass dominated the catch over all other gamefish collected during the survey. A total of 58 smallmouth bass were collected in the two tailwater sections. Eighteen were processed at Harmarville with only one fish of legal size. The smallmouth bass catch at Harmarville was below average. Forty smallmouth bass were processed at Sharpsburg. Of the 40 fish, 13 (33%) were greater than 12 inches. Also from Sharpsburg, three fish were processed over 20 inches with the largest being 20.8 inches and weighing 4.2 pounds. The smallmouth bass catch at Sharpsburg was considered very good for fish over 15 inches.

Rick Lorson with more Sharpsburg smallmouth
Rick Lorson with more Sharpsburg smallmouth

Walleye and sauger were collected in good numbers but few large fish were processed. A total of 32 walleyes were collected with 22 of them coming from Sharpsburg. Of the 32 walleyes collected, only one (a 22 inch fish) was of the legal size of 15 inches or greater. The number of saugers captured was similar to the number of walleyes with a total of 30 saugers from both tailwaters. About 50% of the saugers were of legal size (12 inches or greater). The timing of our sample was late in the year for the ideal sampling time for smallmouth bass, walleye and sauger in rivers. This may have also lead to lower numbers and sizes of the three major target species.

Lorson with a Sharpsburg walleye
Lorson with a Sharpsburg walleye

The survey crew collected a total of 27 fish species. Other fish species that were seen during the survey include golden redhorse, silver redhorse, shorthead redhorse, river redhorse, smallmouth buffalo, quillback, river carpsucker, carp, freshwater drum, channel catfish, flathead catfish, mooneye, longnose gar, bluegill, white crappie, black crappie, white perch, gizzard shad, and Ohio lamprey. A large musky that was estimated at least 45 inches long was also seen during the survey at Harmarville, but it escaped the nets of our crew.

Fish Species Lock and Dam 3
at Harmarville
Lock and Dam 2
(Highland Park Dam)
at Sharpsburg
Number
Collected
Size Range
(Inches)
Number
Collected
Size Range
(inches)
Smallmouth Bass 18 6-13 40 4-20
Largemouth bass 0   2 12-13
Spotted Bass 1 5 0  
Walleye 10 10-14 22 11-22
Sauger 15 10-14 15 9-13
Saugeye 0   2 11
White Bass 1 10 2 7-10
Rock Bass 1 5 5 5-8
 
-- Area 8

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