Big Smallmouth Bass in the Lower Susquehanna
Certainly we should all be worried about the root causes of disease and intersex problems that have beset the Susquehanna River’s most revered game fish, the smallmouth bass.
But don’t be such a worrywart that you don’t go fishing and miss what has suddenly become the river’s best bronzeback fishing on record. At least in terms of catching big bass.
“Our surveys suggest that it’s a very good time to go bass fishing,” says Geoff Smith, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s Susquehanna River biologist. “Not only do we have high catch rates of fish in general, but we also have high rates of large fish.”
Consider that in the Lower Susquehanna, from the Maryland line to the York Haven Dam, the 2016 catch rates for smallmouths 15 inches or larger were the highest since the commission began annual nighttime electroshocking surveys in 1990.
Put simply, your chance of catching multiple lunker smallmouth bass on each outing has never been better.
On the Middle Susquehanna, from York Haven to Sunbury, large-bass catch rates weren’t quite as high, but still the second-highest since 1990.
The moratorium on keeping any bass, in place since 2011, is certainly a factor. It was leveled amid alarming die-offs and poor reproduction classes.
But not only are there more smallmouth bass out there getting older and bigger and fatter, promising young of the year classes are replenishing the overall number of smallmouths and making it less likely there will be big dips in the population from year to year.
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