PFBC To Host Public Meeting on Susquehanna Smallmouth

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PFBC To Host Public Meeting on Susquehanna SmallmouthHarrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is inviting anglers and others with an interest in the management and protection of smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River to a free public meeting on Saturday, January 31, at the River Rescue Building in Harrisburg.

The meeting will touch upon subjects such as fish disease, fish population monitoring results, trends in consumptive water use and water quality trends. A question and answer session will follow the formal presentations. The time of the meeting and a formal agenda have not been determined, but will be announced in a follow-up press release in mid-January.

Smallmouth bass have long been the most prized gamefish in the Susquehanna River and the waterway is widely regarded as one of the top – if not the best – riverine smallmouth fisheries in the nation. Public interest in issues related to smallmouth bass management in the river was heightened in the summer of 2005 when biologists and anglers noted unusual numbers of distressed or dead juvenile smallmouth in various locations throughout the Susquehanna watershed.

The PFBC has determined that the affected fish were suffering from Columnaris disease, an infection related to a common soil and water bacteria Flavobacterium columnare (columnaris). Columnaris disease is considered a secondary infection brought on by environmental or nutritional factors that stress fish, weakening their ability to cope with the bacterial agent.

Since the announcement that it had pinpointed the type of fish disease affecting young smallmouth, the PFBC has been working with partner agencies like the state Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Geological Survey and Susquehanna River Basic Commission to look at factors such as river flow, weather trends and general water quality issues that, combined, may have contributed to the higher-than-usual occurrence of Columnaris in juvenile smallmouth bass in 2005, 2007 and 2008.

Specific information about smallmouth bass management on the Susquehanna can be found on the PFBC website at The website also contains presentations from a September 2007 meeting with commissioners and a similar public meeting that was held in January 2006. The information presented in this meeting will provide an update to the information that was presented in a similar meeting in 2006.

The River Rescue Building is located at 1119 South Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17104.

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