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The Shotem' and Caughtem' Blog is the place to find the latest reviews and commentary on gear, destinations, conditions, events, and general knowledge to inform our readers and give our opinions to anyone listening.

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Monday, 13 May 2013 21:17

Weather and Environment Cause Halt to Spring Small Mouth Bass Fishing

Small Mouth Bass Diseased PA Small Mouth Bass Diseased PA

We at Shotem and Caughtem read the news that spring Small Mouth Bass fishing Season has been halted in Pennsylvania and we thought we would pass along the news.  Many fishermen and woman love small mouth bass fishing throughout the United States.  Noticing conditions that have caused the problems in PA might help other states react faster to not cause this type of cancellation in other states.  If you have witnessed some of your catches showing signs like the ones in PA please advise your state Wildlife and Parks division.  Noticing these types of signs early might help prevent declines or transfer of a potentially harmful disease to other fish species.  Let us know if you have had similar occurrences in your area as many states have fought algae blooms due to the recent drought conditions in the comment section below.  

Over the past decade, the decline of one of the most prized freshwater sport-fish species -- the smallmouth bass -- has puzzled anglers and scientists.

Populations that once thrived throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed -- including the lower Susquehanna River -- have experienced fishkills and perplexing illnesses, according to a recent report from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The problems include lesions, blotchy skin, shorter lifespans and abnormal sexual development in which males grow eggs in their testes, said Harry Campbell, the foundation's Pennsylvania executive director.

A myriad of influences are coming together to threaten the smallmouth bass, Campbell said. Phosphorus and nitrogen pollution have been linked to spring algal blooms that create low-oxygen conditions that stress fish.

"These algae blooms occur when our smallmouth fry are most vulnerable to infection," said John Arway, executive director of the commission in a conference call hosted by the foundation.

Younger populations of smallmouth bass are dying at "unprecedented rates," Campbell said.

With shorter lifespans for adults and juveniles not living to adulthood, the overall population is feared to be near collapse, he said.

The loss of this species will have serious environmental and economic impacts, Campbell said.

In the Susquehanna River, smallmouth bass populations have plummeted, with catch rates of adults falling 80 percent between 2001 and 2005, according to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Subsequent studies by the commission have found that populations have not recovered.

This decline prompted the state agency to impose emergency regulations that prohibited fishing for the species in much of the river from May 1 to June 15, 2012, and again this year.