Input from anglers could ease restrictions on smallmouth bass fishing on Susquehanna River

Posted at 4:48 PM, Apr 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-14 17:02:15-04

Restrictions on targetting smallmouth bass along a stretch of the Susquehanna River could soon be eased.

Since 2012, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has made it illegal to target or attempt to catch bass along a 98 mile stretch of the Susquehanna stretching from above Harrisburg down to the Mason-Dixon Line from May 1 to mid-June. The concern had been decreasing catch rates during surveys and adult fish with lesions, including one with a cancerous tumor.

Now the health of the river seems to be improving and with it the health and population of the popular smallmouth.

The Fish Commission says surveys conducted from 2013-2016 showed increasing numbers of adult smallmouth. Because of those numbers, the Commission is now considering easing its "no targetting" restriction and making going with a catch-and-release policy. However, the proposal would still ban tournaments during the roughly six week spawning period from May till mid-June.

The new policy is would put that stretch of the Susquehanna in line with all other waters in the Commonwealth.

The PFBC is holding three public meetings with the first happening Monday night at its headquarters in Harrisburg.

April 17 – PFBC Headquarters
Susquehanna Room
1601 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg PA 17110
April 18 - Columbia Crossing River Trails Center 
Columbia River Park
41 Walnut Street
Columbia, PA 17512
April 19 - Susquehanna University 
Charles B. Degenstein Campus Center
Benjamin Apple Meeting Rooms 2-5
514 University Avenue
Selinsgrove, PA 17870
Comments can also be submitted online.
If the Commission approves the proposal, the changes would take effect in 2018.
*Jeff Herman is the assistant news director at WMAR | ABC2 and a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association. His main passion while not at work is fishing. This column is part of a series of columns he writes for our outdoors page . You can read more of his columns here . Follow him on Twitter @JeffABC2News  and @TightLinesABC2