Pollution Solution: Ban Tourneys

Let’s start this off with a couple quick newspaper quotes:

“In a bid to save a once-famous smallmouth bass fishery, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission [recently] passed emergency regulations for catch-and-release-only bass fishing on much of the lower Susquehanna River and part of the Juniata River. The new PFBC regulations also ban popular bass tournaments in the spring, and require catch, measure and immediate release for tournaments the remainder of the year.”

“The extreme action follows five years or so of alarming declines in the reproduction of smallmouths and catch rates by fishers.” [What’s that now? The PFBC is monitoring the catch rates of weasels?]

“Scientists were called in to investigate. They said they think manmade pollution contributes to the death of bass from stress and a bacteria. [“A” bacteria? Who’s editing this stuff?] However, the scientists have not been able to conclude if the problems are from chemicals or from excessive nutrients from agriculture and sewage plants.”

So let’s get this straight:

> The smallie population in the lower Susquehanna has been down.

> The culprit is pollution.

> The solution: ban tourneys.

Where does one go to get such smarts? Smart-Mart? Smarts R Us?

Props to George Acord, co-owner of Susquehanna Fishing Tackle in Lancaster and a derby angler (not fisher), who said: “We believe in following the science that biologists present to us, and they think it’s a water-quality issue.”

He added that banning tournaments and onshore weigh-ins doesn’t address the underlying water-quality issues, and that catch and release doesn’t further protect young smallmouth bass.

And here’s the exclamation point: “In addition, he said the agency gets much of its funding from federal taxes on fishing and boating equipment and fuel, much of which is provided by tournament anglers.”

Go Acord!


The new regulations apply to 98 miles on the Susquehanna, from the inflatable dam near Sunbury to the Holtwood Dam. On the Juniata River, they will be in effect from Port Royal downstream to the mouth of the river at Duncannon.



  1. Jeff

    October 15, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Thats horrible to hear that the susquehanna smallmouth fishery is not healthy. I live upstream from there and fish the chemung/susquehanna rivers in NY.

    Not to defend the situation, but it is a known fact that spending a day in a livewell is taxing on bass, especially in the summer months with warmer water. There have been many topics online and on bass fishing podcasts discussing fish care? Hopefully with these regulations on tournaments they are also looking into the causes of the pollution and aggressively pursuing a solution so that tournaments can get back underway.

    To finish, I will say that it is not a very proffessionally written article.

    • Jim S

      October 19, 2010 at 6:43 am

      That’s how things work her in good ole PA. The DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) has no authority over anything because so many other agencies trump them on everything. The only real action can be taken by the Fish Commission unfortunately the fish commission doesn’t have the authority to actually solve the problem so instead they can operate in a sort of “guardian mode” (to borrow a term from Mercury) So we are saving a declining fishery by shutting it down in hopes that a solution will present itself before it is too late. Yep, that’s PA for ya!

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