Biologist reports logo Lower Woods Pond
Wayne County
July 11, 2006

Largemouth Bass and Walleye

Lower Woods Pond is a 91-acre lake owned by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission located in Lebanon Township in Wayne County. Big Bass Regulations for largemouth bass were implemented in 2000. All other species are managed under Commonwealth Inland Waters regulations. Lower Woods Pond is annually stocked with walleye fingerlings.

In late June, a bass group reported the presence skin irritations on some of the largemouth bass caught during a recent tournament. They noted that some of the bass had open sores around their head region, and reddish blotches on the sides of the bodies. In response their concern regarding the conditions noted, on July 11 staff from Fisheries Management Area 5 collected 27 largemouth bass in 1.25 hours of dayboat electrofishing. Sizes ranged from 175 to 524 mm (7 - 20 inches). Eight of the 27 bass collected exhibited regions of skin irritations. Their sizes ranged from 325 to 449 mm (13 – 17 inches), roughly the same size ranged noted by the bass angling group. All bass caught were placed on ice and transported to the USFWS Fish Health Unit at Lamar, PA for analysis.

GOOD NEWS: Tests results from the 27 largemouth bass submitted for pathogenic analysis were negative for viral and certifiable bacterial pathogens. Toxicology tests were also negative. What we do know is motile aeromonads, a bacterial group, were present in fish tissue of 5 of the 16 bass sampled. Motile aeronomads are common soil and water bacteria that can become pathogenic when the fish becomes stressed. Based on these findings, although the exact cause is not known, motile aeronomads are the leading candidate for causing the skin irritations. It should be noted that due to very cool May and June temperatures, the spawning period may have been prolonged, thus extending the physiological stress associated with spawning. The age of the bass noted with lesions should range from should 4 to 7 years, based on previous Lower Woods Pond age data. These are the prime ages for spawning. Largemouth bass younger than the spawning age did not exhibit any external signs of skin irritations as noted during our survey and by the concerned bass club.

Largemouth bass with skin irritation
Largemouth bass WITH skin irritation

Largemouth bass without skin irritation
Largemouth bass WITHOUT skin irritation

Also, seven legal size walleye (15 inches and larger) were observed in the course of this survey. The presence of walleye was impressive, since the survey was conducted during daylight hours and walleye typically move to shoreline locales at night.

-- Dave Arnold, Area 5 Fisheries Manager

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