RE: Susky and local Harrisburg Waters
I've been fishing the Susqy for over 20 years and the smallmouth bass population is at a all time low, at least since the PFBC started keeping young of the year recruitment records. Here's what going on: There has not been a positive recruitment class for 9 years. This has created a situation where as the older, larger fish die off there is no population to replace them.
What has created this problem? The causes are many. Pollution, a persistent drought/flood cycle during the spring that has wiped out entire year classes (EG> 2004 was wiped out by a flood and 2005 was wiped out by low water that led to a drought that led to a columnaris bacteria infection outbreak), excessive tournament pressure, excessive guides fishing the spawning beds, excessive catch and keep by the lower income "bucket anglers", improper handling techniques by the catch and release anglers.... it goes on and on.
On the flip side the low population has created a situation where the fish that are in the river have little to no competition for the food resources so they eat at will. The river has turned into a true trophy fishery. The fish are big, I mean really mamouth fish, however, you may only 10 or 15 in a trip, unlike in the late 90's where we were routinly having 100 fish days.
Also, the Walleye have stepped in to fill the void left by the absent smallmouth. Walleye spawn at a different time and haven't been as effected by the floods. Plus the PFBC has been stocking eye's for years which has helped.
ONly mother nature can really turn the situation around and allow the weather to facilitate some decent recruitment classes. BUT the PFBC also needs to declare the entire river from Sunbury to York-Haven a special regulation no harvest area. That means no harvest and no tournaments. They also need to close the spring season and stop the bed fishing.
The smallies will come back but it's going to be a while.