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Fair Catch: Fishing on the Schuylkill

PAC Member Chris Eife with a 30” Striped Bass caught on an A Salt Bomber Lure.

Philadelphians are often surprised to learn just how diverse the wildlife can be below the surface of the waters around our city. These recent catches by members of the Philadelphia Anglers Club are great examples of fish species that swim our rivers, right under your nose! These fish were released back into the wilds of the Schuylkill.

Chris at it again with a Flathead Catfish over 20 pounds!

And PAC Co-Founder Matt Coll with a 25 pound Carp caught on a piece of fake plastic corn.

Read more blog posts about local fishing:
Shad State of Affairs, Part Two: Swimming With Mackerel
Reel Good Time: Photos from the 2012 Philly Fun Fishing Fest
Northwest Passage: Fairmount Fish Ladder Helps Shad Swim Up The Schuylkill

And learn about Pennsylvania’s many fish species on the PA Fish & Boat Commission’s species gallery:

Reel Good Time: Photos from the 2012 Philly Fun Fishing Fest

Last weekend's Philly Fun Fishing Fest was, um, off the hook. Nearly 100 participants came to the Schuylkill banks, and the fish were definitely biting. A total of 225 fish were caught; 10 different species were hauled in during the catch-and-release event, including striped bass, white perch, yellow perch, channel catfish, white catfish, small-mouthed bass, blue gill, alewife, spot and blueback herring.

Thanks to our sponsors (Dick's Sporting Goods and Plano) and our partners (Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Schuylkill River Development Corporation). More photos after the jump.

Fishing Fest Registration Closes Today

posted in

Don't let the deadline to register for the 2012 Philly Fun Fishing Fest "bass" you by—today is the last day to sign up for the free event on Saturday, September 8 on the Schuylkill Banks from 7-11 a.m. Remember to print and sign your release form. And in the event of inclement weather on Saturday, we'll announce a rain date right here.

More information >>

Register for the 2012 Philly Fun Fishing Fest

Bring your family and friends out to this year's Philly Fun Fishing Fest! This is a great opportunity to enjoy the river, catch fish and win prizes!

Saturday, September 8th 7am - 11am

Schuylkill Banks near 24th and Walnut Streets

More Information
Registration Form

Enter the Schuylkill Shots Photography Competition

Ah, the lovely Schuylkill River 

It's your chance to show off your artistic talent and unique view of the Schuylkill River! The Schuylkill Action Network (SAN) is hosting a contest to find the best photos and will be awarding many great prizes.

Contest Categories

Wild & Scenic
Upstream View of Green Lane Over the Schuylkill - 1935

Fun on the Schuylkill
East River Drive Boating on the Schuylkill - 1968

Tip Top Tap
Portable Water Fountain on SW corner of 21st St & Parkway - 1953

Learn More About The Contest


PWD Answers: What's on the Mysterious Island in the Middle of the Schuykill?

The Philly Watersheds Blog would like to take a siesta from the incessant posting of spokesdog photos to direct your attention toward a recent post on City Paper's Naked City blog. Writer Isaiah Thompson asks PWD's Chris Crockett and Adam Levine: What's the story behind the little island in the middle of the Schuylkill?

Peter's Island, as the little mound turns out to be named (even on Google Maps), has left a surprisingly faint trail in Philly history, considering how long it's been there. Illustrations of it date back at least to the early 1800s (in them, it looks considerably less ominous than it does now). By the mid-20th century, the island had actually ceased to be an island at all, according to Adam Levine, a historical consultant for the Philadelphia Water Department who runs the website A mountain of sludge — the remnants, Levine says, of a century of coal mining that had washed its way to Philly — had simply extended the river's western bank all the way to the island. It remained a peninsula until some time in the 1950s, when the western channel was dredged back into existence, and the sludge pumped 11 miles southwest to create land in Eastwick, near the airport.

Thompson also discovers firsthand the large population of xenophobic geese living on the island. Check out the whole story  here.

Upstream Battle: Shad Ascend Schuylkill Past Phoenixville for First Time in Almost 200 Years

Last summer, we celebrated the spotting of American shad below the Black Rock Dam near Phoenixville—the first time the native species had been observed above Norristown since 1820. This summer, the shad look to shatter that record. Earlier this week, biologists from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission observed several adult American shad passing through the Black Rock Fishway. This marks a 37-mile journey up the river for shad, which migrate annually upstream to spawn, and is a testament to the success of shad restoration in the Schuylkill. A total of 10 dams in the Schuylkill have either been removed or now
have fishways that allow fish to pass through; many of these restoration
projects were completed in the last five years.

Image: PA Fish and Boat Commission

The Philadelphia Water Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed and sponsor the first fish ladder on the shad's journey upstream at the Fairmount Dam; read last month's post about the Fairmount fish ladder and keep an eye out for shad at the Fish Cam.

A Shad State of Affairs

Photo: Emma Lee/NewsWorks

Two shad posts in a row? It's a shad shad shad shad world. [Please make the shad puns stop. Thanks—ed.] As the peak of the shad spawning season arrives, WHYY's NewsWorks has a very informative article (and great photos) about the Fairmount fish ladder, including interviews with PWD aquatic biologists Lance Butler and Joe Perillo:

Historically, the shad traveled as far as 90 miles upriver from Philadelphia, past Pottsville, Pa., in the Schuylkill River system to spawn. In colonial times, shad dominated the Schuylkill's ecosystem and shaped life in Philadelphia. "Many families relied on the protein of shad to get them through the winter. They would salt barrels of shad, and that was their primary protein source," Perillo said. Industrial pollution and the construction of dams eventually depleted the shad population. With the Clean Water Act in the 1970s, a trickle started to return, but the Fairmount Dam blocked their way.

A quick note on shad and colonial times: Many sources mention that George Washington fed his troops shad from the Schuylkill River during the Revolutionary War. A previous post from last year—We've Been Shad (that was a pre-existing shad pun and is therefore not a punishable offense, right?)—calls this item into question.

Northwest Passage: Fairmount Fish Ladder Helps Shad Swim Up The Schuylkill

There's a lot of traffic on the Schuylkill, but for once it's not a backup on I-76. Thanks to the Fairmount fish ladder (as well as upstream fish ladders and dam removals), shad are once again migrating up the Schuylkill River to spawn. The resurgence of shad indicates improved ecological conditions, as shad populations decimated by pollution in the early 20th century began making a comeback in the 1980s. Fish ladders such as the one constructed at the Fairmount Dam (pictured above) four years ago provide a stairway to the Schuylkill, whose main stem and tributaries are the shad's native habitat. A recent report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (which sponsors the fish ladder along with the Philadelphia Water Department) points to the project's success:

"The data shows the project has been an incredible success," said Project Manager Terry Fowler, a planner with the Philadelphia District. "Certainly the fish have voted and we're happy with the result." Fowler said the functionality of the rebuilt ladder was a vast improvement over what existed previously. The District rebuilt the entrance and exit gates, chamber pools, and a structure to help fish find the entrance to the passage. Project Biologist Mark Eberle said the features help simulate the natural experience a migratory fish would have when traveling upstream.

The graph below indicates the significant impact the fish ladder has had on the number of shad passing through—more than 3,000 in 2011:

Learn more about what PWD is doing to monitor fish populations and restore fish habitat.

East Falls: You've Got Stormwater Bumpouts

Pop Quiz! A Stormwater Bumpout is: 

a)  The name of a wizard in the Harry Potter books
b)  An obscure '70s prog-rock band
c)  A vegetated curb extension that manages runoff by infiltrating water into the soil, thereby helping to prevent combined sewer overflows into our rivers and streams

Obviously, it's c). You can see a stormwater bumpout up close and personal tomorrow, April 5 at 4:30 at Queen Lane and Foxt Street in East Falls. Philadelphia's first bumpouts were installed at Queen Lane (pictured above) as part of the Green City, Clean Waters plan to manage stormwater through green infrastructure. PWD's Soak It Up! crew will be on hand with free refreshments, art activities, yarn graffiti, flower bulb plantings and more. 

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