Striped Bass in the Schuylkill River: Myth or Fact?

The Schuylkill is home to many different kinds of species of fish. In terms of diversity, it's not an exaggeration to say that this river beats all the other waters around us easily! At night time, a possible Walleye or Musky at the Fairmount Dam. At day time, constant White Perch and Catfish action when the circumstances allow. Sunfish and Crappies can be fished under certain structures, and Carp can be landed at certain times of the year - with some effort. If you get lucky, you may end up landing a Beautiful Pumpkin Seed for your aquarium at home! Flatheads can easily become the night watchers at different portions of the river, and eels can become easy prey after heavy periods of rain. In the Spring, there's Striped Bass spawning, and the famous "Shad Run": American and Hickory Shad ready to be caught on Shad Darts, and so on. Occasionally, one may land a nice sized Yellow Perch by the end of Winter, and some Spot fish on Fall. With some persistence, a fisherman will surely catch some Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass next to the Falls. As I mentioned before, one of the richest spots in the city is the Schuylkill River, which some people, unfortunately, still refer to it as "City Sewer". Also, emphasizing a little bit, it's also not an exaggeration to say that the waters under the Fairmount Dam may be the BEST spot in Philadelphia - one of the most productive and unexpected spots! I like to say that surprises awaits different fishermen under the Dam.

Today's topic is short, and simple: Are Striped Bass really living in the Schuylkill River? Or are they only present during their run in Spring?

It's a matter of fact that the Striped Bass is naturally a fish from coastal waters. However, during the 1900's, people finally discovered that they had the ability to adapt to fresh water; specially after the incident at South Carolina: when waters from Santee and Cooper rivers were dammed in 1941. Striped Bass were trapped above the dam, and soon they adapted to it. After that, many different states had the excellent idea to create different stocking programs for this species of fish.

Some say that when a school of Striped Bass hits the surface in search of bait fish, there's no faster fishing! They will hit anything that tops the water, or gets close to them! And this is no myth: just a couple weeks ago, I've seen people get small Striped Bass at the Fairmount Dam using chicken livers on a size #4 hook, and a float.

Curiously, my friend RZ fished a small Striped Bass today at the Schuylkill Banks. It's very curious because the current of the river was altered, and the river was very muddy. Obviously this fish wasn't running up the river to spawn (they did that in Spring already). Therefore, the most reasonable explanation is that they are THERE. They are in the river! And you know what fisherman usually says, right? If there is a small one, there's a big one! It's true that this sentence is not completely true, hence some waters don't have enough conditions to breed big fish. However, the Schuylkill is far away from being one of those waters, and I hope to see the day that this river will be able to hold Trophy fish! Hopefully the quality of the water will keep increasing over the years, as consistent water treatment is made, and people become more conscious about environmental conservation.

What are the chances of getting a big Striped Bass at the Fairmount Dam in this season of the year? I have no idea, hence I'm not an expert in the area. However, let's not forget that the Striped Bass is a member of the Temperate Bass family...and this family is known to be one of the strongest fighting Game fish! Therefore, it's very worth to give it a try at the Dam!

Below are the images of the Striped Bass RZ caught today. All credits to him and his smiley face (just like a kid)! It's his first Striped Bass of the year! =)

Best of luck for all of us!

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Leo S.


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