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2004 & 2005 Fairmount Fish Ladder Passage Data
Compared to Historical Counts

Information provided by Joe Perillo, fisheries biologist, Philadelphia Water Department


The following contains the 24hr/day, April, May, June counts for Fairmount Fishway in 2004 and 2005. A total of 8,017 fishes representing 25 species were counted passing through the Fishway in 2005, compared to 6,438 counted in 2004.  Despite the increase in total fish passage, there were decreases in numbers of American shad, striped bass, hybrid striped bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, and channel catfish for 2005.  The increase in total fish passage in 2005 was mainly from white sucker, quillback, common carp, and white perch.  Several power and software failures with the video monitoring system resulted in loss of video at peak passage times for American shad during the spring migration. The loss of video from these critical days in 2005 suggests that actual passage numbers of American shad were higher than recorded.

Fish counts

1. American shad
2004 counts of 91 American shad were the highest ever.  Previous high from counts made from 1979-1984 over various time periods and months was 22 in 1981 when counts were made from 10 AM to 8 PM 3/30/81 to 6/13/81.  The only previous 24 hr. counts were in 1979 when 2 shad were counted between 4/30/79 and 5/31/79. 

2005 counts of 41 American shad were lower than 2004 but still higher than counts form the 1970’s and 1980’s. The missing video from several critical days in May and June is a likely explanation for the reduced numbers.

2. Striped bass
A record high count of 161 striped bass observed in 2004.  The 2005 counts were slightly less with 127, but still much greater than the historical count of only 1 striped bass counted from 1979-1984.

3. Striper hybrids
The 20 hybrid striped bass observed in 2004 represented a new species for fishway counts.  16 striper hybrids were counted in 2005.

4. Quillback
The previous record count of 1807 quillback from 2004 was surpassed in 2005 with a record number of 2042 quillback passing through the Fishway.  The previous high count was 99 in 1982 when counts were made from 10 AM to 8 PM 4/12-6/25/82.
 
5. River herring
The two seen in 2004 and 5 counted in 2005 were the lowest number ever counted, even for years with very low effort when the lowest tally was 8 in 1984.  Highest previous count was 305 in 1981.  Large groups of 400 to 500 herring have been observed in the lower pools of the fishway, however, few of them make it past the viewing window.  Several river herring have been found in the stomach contents of flathead catfish removed from the Fishway, suggesting possible predation of herring.

6. Flathead Catfish
New species for fishway counts.  68 observed in 2004 and 43 in 2005.  Commonly observed “resident” believed to enter the Fishway and not leave in order to take advantage of the abundant supply of easily available prey fishes. 

7. Grass Carp
Two observed in 2004, a new fishway species.  No grass carp were observed in 2005
 
8. Brown bullhead, sunfish
Low brown bullhead count (none) and low sunfish counts may be something to watch into the future because of flathead catfish predation. We have had these low counts in the past as well as much higher counts so need more information through future counts.

9. Walleye
Schuylkill River walleye population is growing as reflected in the count of 57 in 2004 and 33 in 2005  Previous high was 21 in 1981. 
 
10. Channel catfish
2004 provided the highest count at 1816, but fewer in 2005 with 1663.  Previous high was 1436 in 1979, the only other year when 24 hr. counts were done.  Channel catfish are prevalent at night in the fishway.


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