Schuylkill Flooding + Updates and changes

---------- Changes + Updates ----------

Hello, readers! I'm sure it's been a while since I wrote, and I have a good reason for not doing so. The last three weeks of my life have been chaotic! I did not only have to engage in a lot of physics and mathematics exercises (for college), but I also moved out last month. Therefore, being busy in college, plus moving out and staying without Internet for about a week, delayed my posts. However, I do have A LOT of content to post, and I'll hopefully catch up now with the extra time I have (maybe even today). Anyways...thank you for your patience, and let's talk a little bit first about updates, and changes around Philly.

1. E-mails.

So, I've been receiving a bunch of e-mails from readers. I'm actually glad that people are using that service, since I made it for the purpose of receiving questions and comments. Hence I've received some e-mails that talk about the same subject (in general), I've decided to discuss some of the topics here (I'll not reveal the authors' name by means of privacy):

Q. "It's not worth to post of a tiny Smallmouth Bass as picture of the month."

- I've received lots of these after I posted that picture of the Smallmouth Bass from the PennyPack Park. My argument is that size is important, indeed. After all, everyone wants to see a big fish and say "Wow!". However, I'm not only interested in fishing big fish, as you all may have noticed. Other than being a fisherman, I am a very scientific type of person. If there are three aspects in fish that I like, those would be size, species, and behavior. Therefore, when I post pictures of small fish here, it's for the solely purpose of showing that that kind of species is present in that specific body of water. Is it surprising that there are Walleyes at the Fairmount Dam at Center City? Absolutely...and I would post one picture here even if the fish were small. Some people wouldn't believe that they are there, unless they saw a picture of it! The beauty of knowing that a certain kind of fish is around us is delightful. Diversity is one of the many factors that makes our sport more entertaining. You never know what you are going to catch next, even if you expect a certain species of fish. That's a reason why I always call fishermen "adventurers".

Q. "Can you eat the fish out of the Schuylkill River?"

- I've sent lots of responses back for this one. This is a very controversial question because the answer is: it depends. It depends on what kind of species we are talking about, the size of the fish, and sometimes even the specific portion of the watershed that the fish lives at. Other times, it depends even on the structure the fish lives at. For example: a small catfish that lives under rocks at a certain portion of the Schuylkill river may have lower heavy metal concentrations than a fish that lives near a sewer system, and so on. However, to clarify this question better, I've decided to make a list of fish that are edible/not edible according to my heavy metal experiments. Please, note that I always use "Osumax Heavy Metal Set" for my experiments, and all accuracy comes from the quality of their product. The list below is for edible fish:

- Channel Catfish (below 4 pounds)*
- White Perch (All sizes)
- Yellow Perch (All sizes)
- Spot (They are in the river only during late Fall, beginning of Winter)****
- Carp (below 5 pounds)
- Largemouth Bass***
- Smallmouth Bass***
- Striped Bass (All sizes at Spring time, during the run**)
- Walleye***

And the list below is for fish that are NOT edible:

- Channel Catfish (> 4lb - above 4 pounds) - Bluegills/Pumpkin Seeds/Red breast sunfish - Carp (5lb - above 5 pounds)
- American Eel

* I only tested for Channel Catfish. I didn't have enough samples to test for White Catfish, as well as Bullheads and Flatheads.

** Some Striped Bass adapted to fresh water. Those, who did not come from Jersey, should be tested before eaten.

*** I did not test for these, but they are known for having a diet based mainly on small fish and worms, which means that one could assume that the concentration of heavy metals is actually very low. This is a just an assumption, though.

**** Spots are not native to the Schuylkill River (They come from the sea).

Note that more research has to be done, specially with "fish diet". What happens when a fish eats another fish that has heavy metals in its body? Before giving an answer to this one, I would have to do some research on how they absorb components from their food. After all, if we (humans) eat too much lead, better say bye bye, right?

2. Changes around Philly

When I say changes, I'm referring mainly to changes in our body of waters. "Of course, right, Leo?", after all, this is a fishing blog. With all this rain recently, and lots of places flooding, there are a lot of changes. One of the main changes is the "migration of fish". Lately, fish did not migrate because they wanted to (it wasn't like the Great Migration of 1915); but they migrated because they were forced to.

In one of my posts below, I cited how I saw some hybrid Carp (Carp+Goldfish) at a portion of the Pennypack Park. They weren't there before. The reason they are there now is because they probably had no hiding options when the creek flooded due to Irene, and they were forced to follow the high rate of the flow of the water. Otherwise, the pressure of the flow would certainly kill them, or kill a good amount of them.

Fish usually has many options when it comes to changes in capacity and competence of the river. First, they can use structures and slow pools to hide (Keep that in mind - these are the good fishing spots during heavy flow of water, specially slow pools). Therefore, this is the reason why not all fish suffer from this migration. Second, they can follow the flow of the river and just move to a new location. Some species like to "travel", different from the Carp, who seasonally stay at certain portions of their specific watersheds.

Finally, changes in habitat/structure may change locations of certain fish. A clever example is the Yellow Perch, who prefers sand/gravel bottoms. I had specific spots at the Schuylkill River for this type of fish, and I would doubt to find them at the same spots after all these floods. Due to the remodeling of the bottom of the rivers, much more sand/gravel bottoms were probably created, and they could easily change their habitat. Another clever example is the Black Crappie, specially at the Fairmount Dam area. Just let me know if someone finds one - send me an e-mail! They are already very hard to find, and their locations vary seasonally. Fishing for them is easy. Finding them is up to expertise.

3. Schuylkill Flooding

Finally, I'm bringing some pictures of the Schuylkill flooding. These are picture of the 3rd flooding, and not the recent one. The Schuylkill River is the main subject of this topic because it suffered four floodings in a matter of thirty days. One may ask why the Delaware is not the main topic, then. After all, it suffered four floodings as well, isn't it? The main reason is the depth: the Delaware River is much deep than the Schuylkill; therefore, there were many more changes in the Schuylkill than in the Delaware. For fishermen, this could be absurd! For fishermen, this means that places that didn't have snags can easily have snags now. It means that old structures were probably blown away, and new structures were possibly formed. It means new species could be in the river, and all the stuff I cited in the "changes" section above.

However, here are two positive assumptions that I have for the Schuylkill river right now:

1. I wouldn't be surprised if the number of Flathead catfish increased at certain portions of the river. Flatheads tend to feed at night time, unless the river is really muddy. If the river is muddy, "they tend to feed at day time". I put that in quotes because that is partially true, and most fisherman take that for granted. It's true that they feed at day time because the river is muddy, but that's not all of it. One of the other reasons is the so called "change of habitat" that I've been emphasizing here. Flatheads are lonely fish (unless spawning), and they tend to have their own areas - their own "kingdoms". They will be vigilant towards their ranged area, and they will chase off others, as well as members of their own species. The other reason they may feed at day time is simply because they found food while migrating with the flow. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the monsters from Norristown travelled all the way down to Center City, meaning that 30+lb Flatheads could be swimming around! Therefore, all this flooding is a wonderful chance to explore the area better, find new good fishing spots, and maybe fish one of these monsters. Of course this is an assumption, but a very smart one. Therefore, this is what we call a hypothesis. Therefore, my next step is to test it and turn it into something else (by using the Empirical way of Francis Bacon, and all the scientific stuff that people don't want to hear about). Please, note that Flatheads are a danger to aquatic ecosystems, and the Boat and Comission highly encourages people to NOT put them back after fished. Note that it's not a "must", but a "should". Then, it's up to you.

2. The same above applies for the Channel Catfish and the Carp, specially for the Channel Catfish. People take this sentence for granted as well: "They become more active when the river is muddy, mainly because there's more food floating around". The statement is true, and bigger catfish tend to get more active during changes of flow and so on. However, big Channel Catfish that are migrating may as well bite while he's travelling around.

Notice, by logic, that small fish have better chances of finding places to hide, while it's more difficult for bigger fish. Therefore, when there's this forced migration of fish, it usually happens with the big ones. Considering the speed of the flow of the water after the worst flood (among four), even the monsters would be forced to move.

So, next time someone gets a fish at the Schuylkill during times of changed flow rate, look twice at the fish's face because you may have caught a fish that travelled hundreds of miles to get where you are at - a foreigner.

Below are some pictures of the flooded Schuylkill River:

This is a good spot. It's partially a slow pool in times of floods, and I highly recommend this place. However, the snag rate there is higher than some other places.

Same place as above.

A photo of the river until the South Street Bridge

Flooded benches at the River.

Floods usually leave a good amount of particles (mud) on the ground.

A good picture to show how the river is overflowed.

A fast current near the Chestnut Bridge.

Floods bring with them a lot of natural debris, which can be seen in this picture.

Pillar cutting the flow of the water in two directions.

Another picture that gives a good idea of how high the river flooded.

The Loop, at the Schuylkill Banks.

Between Chestnut and Walnut.

More mud on the ground.

Picture of the flow of the water under the Chestnut Bridge.

Pathway between Chestnut and Market st Bridges.

Same Pathway - upward angle.

Same pathway - upward angle.

Flow of water around the Market st Bridge.

Flow of water between Market and Chesnut Bridges.

Picture taken from the Market St. Bridge.

I'll try my best to bring the other posts up soon!

Thank you for your patience and comprehension.

Best of luck for all of us!

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Leo S.


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