I’ll just take my toys..
(With thanks to Susquehanna River Watch for posting this information)
So, the Susquehanna River Tournament Trail has decided to take its’ toys elsewhere on the Susqy this summer as all of their tournaments are being held North of the Sunbury Fabridam; with one being held in Willamsport. The PFBC, in its’ belated wisdom, has made the main stem of the Susquehanna (as of this writing; there is an April meeting where this may change) south of Sunbury into a ‘catch and release’ fishery; along with several miles of the major Tributary the Juniata.
Please don’t get me wrong; I’m not ‘anti-tournament’—I’m not a tournament angler because I fish to relax; I get enough competition in the daily grind. The only person I want to beat fishing is myself. However, some of the members of this group have been quite vocal in their opposition to the new rules. Their cry is that the tournaments aren’t to blame; all the fish are alive when they are released and that pollution is to blame for the problems with the Smallmouth Bass population on the Main Stem of the Susquehanna. I don’t disagree with this premise; in fact I am a firm believer that there are multiple reasons why there are issues. Combined Sewer Overflows are a horrendous problem; lawn and agriculture runoff is an issue, the chemicals humans put in their bodies to combat everything from osteoporosis to depression; even the chemicals we treat our roads with in the winter so that ice and snow are melted are all issues with the river as well. However, tournaments play a role as well. Depending upon the study you read; tournaments can account for a mortality of 5% to 40%. If 100 fish are caught (and typically they will be among the largest fish), the chance of losing between 5 and 40 fish in an already injured fishery seems foolish to me.
I agree with the new PFBC rules–because they are an excellent and easily handled set of rules given the current climate in Harrisburg with regard to the state budget. They are not a panacea however. The real fix will come when the other issues are addressed; however this will take time and will cost millions to fix in Harrisburg alone. Of course, the burden for this will fall on the residents of the city; who are already overburdened, given their economic climate. The other issues–lawn/ag runoff and chemicals used by humans will also cost millions to deal with; both in terms of enforcement of regulations and developing methodologies for removing the chemicals.
The response to the rule changes by the SRTT was to move their tournaments north of the Fabridam. Many of their membership live in the area of the Main Stem around Harrisburg and south; and now they are driving an hour and a half north of Harrisburg to conduct their Tournaments. Towing their boats behind trucks that get 25mpg or less; and polluting the air (and ultimately the river they claim they care for) just to compete with one another seems like an irresponsible action to me. They were advised by the PFBC about paper tournaments, but according to their website, paper tournaments “won’t work”. I would like to know their reasons for this; many tournaments—Kayak Tournaments for one–are held annually and are paper tournaments.
Personally, I believe their actions are like the stereotypical child who cries ‘Fine, I’ll just take my toys and go somewhere else’. Not exploring the option of conducting Paper Tournaments seems to me to be an irresponsible action by the SRTT; adding the pressure of their tournaments to an area that is already fished heavily just adds to that feeling of irresponsibility. I disagree with their reaction.