Fish & Boat Commission Finalizes Susquehanna River Bass Regulations

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) today placed permanent catch-and-immediate-release regulations on smallmouth and largemouth bass in portions of the Susquehanna and Juniata rivers, a move designed to protect the rivers’ existing bass population. At the same time, Commissioners at the quarterly business meeting approved publication of proposed regulations which would, if adopted on final rulemaking, close bass fishing on the same river segments during the spawning season and extend the catch-and-immediate-release regulations to portions of tributaries beginning in 2012.

“We know that deteriorating water quality is a significant factor contributing to the decline of the smallmouth bass population in portions of these rivers and we continue to work with other state agencies and conservation groups on the issue,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “But at the same time, we can protect the existing bass population by reducing angling pressure on them.”

The final regulations approved today have been in place since January 1 under a temporary order issued by Executive Director Arway. They apply to approximately 32 miles of the Juniata River, from the State Route 75 Bridge at Port Royal in Juniata County downstream to the mouth of the river at Duncannon, Perry County. On the Susquehanna, the regulations cover 98 miles, from the inflatable dam near Sunbury in Northumberland County downstream to the Holtwood Dam in York County.

Under the proposed rulemaking approved today, harvesting or attempting to harvest bass on the designated river segments and portions of tributaries would be prohibited during the spring spawn, from the first Saturday after April 11 until the first Saturday after June 11. During the remainder of the year, catch-and-immediate-release regulations would apply to anglers and a catch-measure-immediate-release format would apply to tournaments.

The proposed rulemaking also would extend catch-and-immediate-release regulations into the tributaries to a point one-half mile upstream. If approved under a final rulemaking order, the proposed regulations would take effect Jan. 1, 2012.

In other formal action today, Commissioners approved:

  • A recommendation to acquire property rights along Elk Creek in Fairview Township, Erie County. Acquiring the property will provide anglers with increased access to this popular steelhead fishery;
  • A renewal of a property lease at Franklin County’s Letterkenny Reservoir, an approved trout water which is heavily used by anglers;
  • Publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking to require mandatory life jacket use during the cold weather months from November 1 through April 30 for all persons on boats less than 16 feet in length, and on all canoes and kayaks. If approved on final rulemaking, this requirement would go into effect on Nov. 1, 2012;
  • Publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking to remove the “slow, no wake” designations on Hawns Run Cove and Anderson Bay in Raystown Lake;
  • A grant to the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited of $10,000 per fiscal year for the next three fiscal years to further expand the Trout in the Classroom program;
  • Regulations which will allow anglers to use three rods when fishing, effective Jan. 1, 2012. Current regulations allow for the use of two rods; and
  • Renewal of a grant with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support the Conowingo Dam fish lift on the west side of the Susquehanna River, and awarding of a grant to American Rivers, Inc., to remove the Norristown Farm Park Dam on Stony Creek, Montgomery County, and enhance habitat.

Also, Commissioners postponed until May 24 a formal vote on a proposal to add 99 new waters to the list of wild trout streams. The postponement will allow the Fisheries Committee additional time to consider the matter and make a recommendation to the full board.

A copy of the agenda can be found on the Commission’s web site at

The mission of the Fish and Boat Commission is to protect, conserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and provide fishing and boating opportunities. For more information about fishing and boating in Pennsylvania, please visit our website at

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One Comment

  1. Bob O'Dell says:

    As a long time Smallmouth fisherman I love the Idea of catch & release on the Susquehanna. But I truly don’t believe that closing the spawning season to fishing is going to do anything but put more pressure on other sections of the river. The problem isn’t the amount of fingerlings that are generated in a season. The problem is the amount that survive.
    The summer of 2010 as the worst I have seen. Thousands of dead and dying fingerlings as far north as Towanda. It always seems worse during dry hot summers as water temps go up and water levels drop. During all this water tankers are still lined up sucking more water out of the river. Who really knows how much? Is it actually measured? NO!!!.
    If you want to increase the number of fry and surving fingerlings. Quit sucking water from the River. Next thing is reduce the daily harvest limit to 2 fish and make it a slot limit 12″ to 17″. Close the entire river to Catch and Release only from Oct into November. The fall season is when most of the Big spawning fish are harvested because this is when they are the easiest to catch. Any biologist will tell you unlike Largemouth, Smallmouth spawn mostly by year class and we need those big females that carry 3 times as many eggs as a smaller fish. Plus it is a better gene pool and bigger fish will utilize prime spawning areas. This is why hatcheries use larger fish when collecting eggs.
    Thank you for your consideration Bob O

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