The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 22, 2012

Fewer bass spawn are surviving in the Susquehanna River

By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item

— HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission published the spawning data on the survival of newly spawned smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River for 2012 and the results show that, other than the north branch, all areas remain below median spawning levels.

Meanwhile, “25-30 percent of the smallmouth bass I had been catching (in October) continue to show the black pigmentation,” said William Yingling, a Freeburg-based medical doctor, who has for years been leading the call for investigation into the health of the River.

“There continues to be no explanation for the spawning problems or the black spots,” he said. “It doesn’t appear that anyone is really doing anything to find answers. Does anyone care?”

Kevin Sunday, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said Tuesday, “We spent hundreds of hours over the summer sampling the 5,500 square mile watershed. The watershed is a very large, complicated system, with many tributaries and overlapping ecosystems. Complicating this investigation is that the problem appears limited to the bass and the bass are exhibiting these lesions in a variety of environments. We are taking this very seriously and are working diligently on this investigation.

“We are going to spend the winter taking a close look at all the data we have accumulated,” he continued. “There is likely no single smoking gun but a possible variety of factors contributing here. Once we develop a solid bedrock of scientific evidence, we can move forward with the appropriate steps to protect the bass and the river.”