Second of a 3-part podcast series on the invasive flathead catfish covers how they have impacted other rivers
In the second of what will be a three-part series on invasive flathead catfish, PA Fish and Boat Commission biologist Geoffrey Smith, research student Sydney Stark and Assistant Professor of Biology at Penn State-Hazleton Megan Schall chatted with John Zaktansky o on the most recent episode of the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Podcast.
You can check out the first of the three-part podcast series with story component looking at an overview of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) and the history of the flathead in the Susquehanna by clicking here.
In the second episode, available in the audio player below, Smith, Stark and Schall talk about some other invasive species people may know fairly well and also look at waterways that have been invaded by the flathead catfish longer than the Susquehanna. They talk about the impacts the flathead has had on those waterways and some of the potential red flags in the Susquehanna where there may be similar negative effects on the aquatic ecosystem.
Check back soon for the third and final installment, which will look specifically at current research and studies being done on the flathead in the Susquehanna and what is being learned about their impact.
8/8/2022 07:37:51 am
I am glad to see studies are underway on flathead catfish. I own Southside Sports, a bait and tackle shop on the river in Sunbury just below the Fabridam. I have been guiding for multiple species, including catfish on the river for about 20 years. I have fished the river from below Brunner Island below Harrisburg to Lock Haven on the West Branch and Berwick on the North Branch. The first flathead I saw at Sunbury was in 2003, at that time we had heard of flatheads being caught regularly below Harrisburg. For the following years up until about 2010, flathead catches around Sunbury were unusual, but somewhat regular. After 2010, they became more common every year to the point where I started guiding for them in 2017. I am concerned about their impact. In the areas I frequent, which are mostly within 20 miles north or south of Sunbury, I see about 10 channel cats for every flathead, which likely means nothing as I believe flatheads spend more time hiding and channel cats are everywhere roaming around day and night. The river is in fact loaded with channel cats. If you float the river now when it is low and clear, you will see schools of 50 to 100 or more channel cats in the holes. You will see an occasional flathead hiding under a ledge or log. After dark you will see more flatheads. Flatheads are here to stay and I am neither a proponent or detractor of them, I have to roll with the flow. I am concerned that another invasive species that removes tons of fish per year from the river does not get much attention. I'm referring to the invasive cormorants. We have a flock of about a hundred that live at the fabridam.They are here for at least 8 months of the year, and they eat a pound to a pound and a half of fish each day per bird. They are here for at least 240 days x 100 lbs. per day. That's a staggering 24000 lbs, and that's at the low end of 1 pound per day. Flatheads are surely something to be concerned about, but cormorants have been given a pass for way too long. Other states have gotten permits to reduce their numbers as they are federally protected, but here we have done nothing other than a small ineffectual culling of a few that were endangering other avian predators at a small island near Harrisburg. It's great that we are studying invasive species, not so great that an invasive species like cormorants are ignored.
8/29/2022 11:04:48 am
Thanks, Ken. I am reaching out to both the PFBC and PGC about the cormorant situation and will let you know what I find. I agree that I have seen quite a few of them in our area and they obviously are having an impact on our fishery.
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John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.