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Susquehanna River
Smallmouth Bass

Near Pequea, Lancaster County

Night Electrofishing
September 25, 2007


Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission biologists conducted night electrofishing on September 25, 2007, to assess smallmouth bass abundance in the Susquehanna River at the historic sampling location. The reach of river electrofished for 2 hours 15 minutes was located along the Lancaster County half of the river between the mouths of the Conestoga River and Pequea Creek. This reach included a substantial stretch of poor smallmouth bass habitat comprised primarily of silt and sand.

Six smallmouth bass greater than 15 inches
Six smallmouth bass greater than 15 inches

The 2007 catch rate of nearly 7 smallmouth bass > 12 inches per hour of electrofishing (CPUE) was the fourth lowest recorded at the location (Figure 1) since the 15 inch size limit was implemented in 1991. The catch rate of just over 3 legal length fish (> 15 inches) per hour comprised 43% of the catch over 12 inches and marked the highest catch rate for 15 inch and longer bass at the sampling site for the 1992 through 2007 period (Figure 2). The catch rates of smallmouth bass less than 12 inches long in 2007 and 2006 were the lowest recorded for that period (Figure 3) which suggests that future recruitment of bass to legal sizes will be low in this section of the river. PFBC fisheries biologists are currently working to determine the possible factors affecting recruitment on the river.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

A second night of electrofishing that focused solely on good smallmouth bass habitat was conducted on October 3rd. This sampling revealed that a greater abundance of legal and larger size smallmouth bass was in the mid river rocky habitat downstream from Safe Harbor Dam. The electrofishing catch rate of legal size bass in this habitat was 7 bass per hour.

Area Fisheries Manager, Mike Kaufmann, with a 17 and 19-inch smallmouth bass
Area Fisheries Manager, Mike Kaufmann, with a 17 and 19-inch smallmouth bass

Other fish species collected of interest to area anglers included walleye, channel catfish, and flathead catfish. Eleven of the sixty-four walleye captured were of legal size, with the largest walleye being 17 inches long. A summary of the walleye catch below safe Harbor Dam from 1993 through 2007 is presented in Figure 4. Note that in 1996 and from 2002 through 2005 electrofishing was not conducted at the location. Noteworthy was the presence of a very abundant walleye year class in 2005 at other Susquehanna River sampling locations, indicating that future recruitment of the year class to legal size by this fall may be high for the lower reach of the Susquehanna.

Figure 4

 
-- Area 6

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