Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fish & Boat Commission Keeps Closed Season On Bass In Susquehanna, Juniata Rivers

Fish and Boat Commission Board Tuesday voted to keep in place for at least one more year a closed season on bass fishing in the middle and lower Susquehanna and lower Juniata rivers during the traditional spawning period from May 1 through mid-June.
Also, at the start of the meeting, the board elected Commissioner Rocco Ali as president and Commissioner Eric Hussar as vice-president.
President Ali represents Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Washington and Westmoreland counties. Vice President Hussar represents Bradford, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga and Union counties.
A closed season for smallmouth and largemouth bass from May 1 through June 16 has been in place since 2012 on approximately 98 miles of the Susquehanna River from Sunbury downstream to the Holtwood Dam and on 31.7 miles of the Juniata River from Port Royal downstream to the mouth. Anglers can target bass during the remainder of the year, but only on a catch-and-immediate-release basis.
The Board of Commissioners voted to keep the regulations in place for 12 more months, giving them time to review data from 2017 adult bass surveys, which are scheduled to begin in September. The board will then revisit the proposal at its July 2018 quarterly business meeting and decide if the closed season on these sections of the rivers should be removed beginning in 2019.
“The board’s action today provides time for our biologists to collect and evaluate another year of data, which hopefully will reinforce the encouraging trends we’ve seen the last few years in the smallmouth bass population,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway.
Commissioners also approved a proposal to place the upper reaches of the West Branch Susquehanna River under Catch and Release All-Tackle regulations. The focus area of the upper West Branch is approximately 26.6 miles from the acid mine drainage treatment plant in Watkins downstream to the confluence with Cush Creek near Dowler Junction.
“The change will help protect the wild trout populations as the river continues to recover from acid mine drainage,” said Jason Detar, Chief of the Division of Fisheries Management. “This is a special opportunity to protect, improve, and highlight the developing wild trout fishery in a region where many waterways have not supported fisheries for over a century due to pollution.”
The upper West Branch is currently managed under Commonwealth inland regulations. The designation change will take effect on January 1, 2018.
In other action, the board:
-- Added 99 waters to the list of wild trout streams and adjusted the section limits of seven waters.
-- Added 29 stream sections to the list of Class A wild trout streams.
-- Approved the acquisition of 1,900 linear feet on Elk Creek as it flows across a parcel of property in McKean Township, Erie County, for $26,000. The easement area is located off West Road immediately downstream of the PFBC’s Rick Road Access. Elk Creek is a popular steelhead and trout fishery and the acquisition of the easement will provide additional trout and steelhead fishing opportunities.
-- Approved the acquisition of an easement on a 0.4-acre parcel of land on Trout Run in Fairview Township, Erie County. This section of Trout Run is a critical steelhead brood collection location for the Lake Erie Steelhead Program and the acquisition of an easement is necessary to continue the program. The PFBC previously had agreements with the former owners of the property, and wants to enter into a similar agreement with the current owners.
-- Authorized a grant not to exceed $125,000 to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to help with the acquisition of the Indian Caverns property in Franklin Township, Huntingdon County, followed by the subsequent transfer of the property to the PFBC. The 13.56-acre property is located along Spruce Creek, a nationally renowned trout fishery. There is currently very limited public access, and the purchase would provide important access to one of Pennsylvania’s finest trout streams.
-- Approved a grant of up to $175,000 to American Rivers, Inc., or other appropriate partner organization for the removal of Delp Dam (also known as Swartley Mill Dam) across Indian Creek, Montgomery County. The funding is being provided by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to fulfill stream mitigation requirements as part of a highway widening project.
Click Here for the complete report on the meeting.
(Photo: John Arway, Executive Director of PFBC, holds a smallmouth bass he caught in the Lower Susquehanna River, Chesapeake Bay Journal.)

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