Anglers Finding Three Rivers Excellent for Bass Fishing

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
19 June 2011
By Bob Frye

The reports coming from Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission waterways conservation officers regarding the fishing on Pittsburgh's rivers has had a common theme recently.

Anglers are getting lots of bass.

"Fishing on the three rivers was excellent this past weekend," one wrote Thursday. "Anglers boating in the vicinity of the Point were catching good numbers of smallmouth bass."

"Smallmouth bass have been active over the last couple of weeks at the Allegheny River dams and hydro plants...," wrote another.

"Allegheny River anglers seem to be catching plenty of smallmouth bass," wrote a third.

That's should surprise no one. The rivers — especially the Monongahela and Ohio — hold good populations of mainly smallmouth bass, according to survey work done this year.

Biologists with the Fish and Boat Commission have been compiling an "index of biological integrity" on each of the rivers. That's a survey of all the fish, game species and others, that swim in the rivers, said Matt Kinsey, a fisheries biologist aide.

Breaking out the bass numbers from that has been revealing.

Commission standards label a water as a good bass fishery if surveys turn up 35 total bass per hour, with seven per hour 12 inches or longer and two per hour 15 inches or longer.

At Grays Landing on the Monongahela — in many ways the top spot examined — biologists found 54 total bass per hour, with 34 per hour exceeding 12 inches and 15 per hour exceeding 15 inches.

"There's a ton of great habitat there," Kinsey said.

At the Braddock lock and dam, biologists found even more bass — 62 per hour — if slightly fewer big ones. The Maxwell lock and dam, meanwhile, gave up 50 bass per hour.

The Ohio River is no slouch either. Kinsey said survey work at Dashields lock and dam turned up 60 bass per hour, with 32 per hour exceeding 12 inches and 10 exceeding 15 inches.

The Allegheny is less impressive. Work done at Freeport found 24 bass per hour, with two per hour exceeding 12 inches and none exceeding 15 inches. The biggest handled went 14 inches.

"But I don't think it's anything to be concerned about," Kinsey said. "The walleye catch there tends to be higher than on either of the other two rivers, so I just think that speaks to it being a slightly different fishery."

All in all, the rivers — once so polluted as to be devoid of fish — offer good bass fishing, and should for a while to come, he said.

"Everywhere we collected fish, there seemed to be a variety of size ranges, a lot of year classes, so that speaks to the health of the fishery," Kinsey said.

Bob Frye can be reached at or 724-838-5148.