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Southeastern PA Waters
2007 and 2008 Warmwater Stream Survey results from ten southeastern Pennsylvania waters

In July and August of 2007 and 2008 Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Area 6 along with other agency personnel sampled 10 different moderately-wide to wide (14-36 meters) warmwater streams in southeastern Pennsylvania to document the warmwater fish communities as part of a greater project that would eventually characterize warmwater stream fish communities throughout the state. Sample sites measuring 300-500 meters in length were electrofished at specific locations (segments) on each stream, which are listed in Table 1. Most of the stream segments were characterized as slow moving with few riffles and long pools or long glides. The majority of the pools were up to 1.25 meters deep, but pools were occasionally up to 2.0 meters deep. Streams sampled included those both in the Delaware River drainage and Susquehanna River drainage.

Electrofishing crew
Electrofishing crews sample Codorus Creek’s fish community

Smallmouth bass
Two 15 inch smallmouth bass

The majority of sportfish captured in sampled streams consisted of smallmouth bass, rock bass, and redbreast sunfish, with one stream, the South Branch of Codorus Creek near its confluence with Codorus Creek, supporting a good population of largemouth bass ranging in size from 2 inches to 14 inches. As shown in Figure 1 the East Branch of Perkiomen Creek had the highest electrofishing catch per hour (CPUE) for smallmouth bass with a catch rate of 199 per hour. The levee section of Codorus Creek in York had the highest CPUE of rock bass at 157 per hour. Although not shown in the figure, the West Branch of Brandywine Creek had the highest CPUE of redbreast sunfish at 70 per hour. Legal size smallmouth bass (>=12 inches) were most numerous in the West Branch of Brandywine Creek and Codorus Creek downstream from York, with Codorus having produced the largest smallmouth, a 19 inch fish. Legal size smallmouth bass were also seen or captured in East Branch Perkiomen, Tulpehocken, and Chester Creeks, as well as Buck Run. Rock bass nine inches long and longer were captured in Chiques, South Branch Codorus, Codorus, and Tulpehocken Creeks. Of those stream sampled, Tulpehocken Creek produced the largest redbreast sunfish, which was over eight inches. Isolated areas of habitat, known to local anglers, may have held larger individuals of the above species in these streams. The electrofishing sites we selected were generally representative of typical habitat for each stream.

Channel catfish were found in four streams and walleye were found in two streams. Moderate to large populations of channel catfish were present in Chester Creek in the Chester/Upland area (CPUE=10 per hour), in Chiques Creek near its confluence with the Susquehanna River (12 per hour), and in Codorus Creek downstream from York (35 per hour). A small population was present in Maiden Creek near its confluence with the Schuylkill River (2 per hour). Channel catfish ranged in size from 9 inches to 24 inches, with the largest found in both Maiden and Codorus Creeks. Good populations of walleye were present in Codorus Creek downstream from York (20 per hour) and in Chiques Creek near its confluence with the Susquehanna River (50 per hour). Smaller populations of walleye were found in the levee section of Codorus Creek in York (9 per hour), but it was suspected that occasional deeper pools may have held larger numbers. Codorus produced the largest walleye, a 24 inch fish, all other walleye collected were 17 inches or less in Codorus and Chiques Creeks.

We suspect low-head dams blocked movement of fish within or into some of these streams. We suspect that both channel catfish and walleye move into Chiques Creek from the Susquehanna River and would probably continue their upstream migration if their progress was not blocked by dams. Channel catfish likely move into Maiden Creek from the Schuylkill River and may reach the base of Blue Falls Dam. Walleye are seasonally reported to do the same. Channel catfish and walleye also likely move into Codorus Creek from the Susquehanna and move as far upstream as Myers Mill Dam, located at river mile 6.7. Channel catfish and walleye may also move down Codorus Creek from Lakes Marburg, Redman, and Williams, although movement out of the lakes was not evident in these or previous surveys of Codorus and its tributaries. It was apparent that walleye either move downstream from the lakes or reproduce in the York City section since Myers Mill Dam blocks their upstream movement from the river into the City.

The Codorus Creek survey was the first to document the movement of flathead catfish from the Susquehanna River into a tributary stream. While only three 11-16 inch flatheads were collected, the flatheads had moved five miles upstream in Codorus Creek.

American eels, which migrate from the Atlantic Ocean’s Sargasso Sea and utilize rivers and streams as nursery water before returning to the Sargasso Sea to spawn were present in some Delaware River Basin streams. Eels were captured in Chester Creek, the Brandywine branches, Buck Run, Tulpehocken Creek, and Maiden Creek. Their presence was evidence of their uncanny ability to move around or over some low-head dams. Those in the Tulpehocken may have by-passed as many as eight dams on the Schuylkill River and in the Tulpehocken itself, but it is unknown how many eels remained stranded below these blockages.

Unusual finds were numerous American shad fingerlings, one striped bass fingerling, and blue crabs in Chester Creek. American shad utilize the Chester/Upland portion of Chester Creek as nursery water and migrate to the Atlantic Ocean in fall. Chester Creek had been previously unknown as American shad nursery water.

Rock bass
10 inch rock bass

Other fish species captured in these warmwater streams were as follows: green sunfish, bluegill, pumpkinseed, black crappie, yellow perch, white perch, stocked rainbow trout, stocked brown trout, wild brown trout (Buck Run, Tulpehocken Creek), wild brook trout (Buck Run), white sucker, shorthead redhorse, northern hogsucker, quillback carpsucker, gizzard shad, redfin pickerel, longnose dace, blacknose dace, rosyside dace, tesselated darter, banded darter, greenside darter, shield darter, common carp, goldfish, central stoneroller, cutlips minnow, bluntnose minnow, banded killifish, common shiner, spotfin shiner, spottail shiner, comely shiner, swallowtail shiner, satinfin shiner, rosyface shiner, yellow bullhead, brown bullhead, margined madtom, creek chub, river chub, and fallfish.

While fishing access on some warmwater streams is limited, kayakers and canoeists were seen floating or were known to float the East and West Branches of the Brandywine Creek as well as the section of Codorus Creek between Myers Mill Dam and York Furnace. Canoe access points were developed along the West Branch of the Brandywine Creek. As always, with safety in mind, kayakers and canoeists should familiarize themselves with the waters that they intend to float, including the location of dams, before setting out on a day trip.

Table 1. Warmwater Stream Upper and Lower Survey Limits

Stream Upper Survey Limit Lower Survey Limit
East Branch Brandywine Creek Downingtown Mouth of Stream
South Branch Codorus Creek E. Branch’s mouth Mouth of Stream
Chiques Creek Little Chiques Ck. mouth Mouth of Stream
Codorus Creek S. Branch’s mouth Mouth of Stream
Tulpehocken Creek Blue Marsh Res. Mouth of Stream
East Branch Perkiomen Creek Sellersville Mouth of Stream
West Branch Brandywine Creek Buck Run’s Mouth Mouth of Stream
Maiden Creek Sacony Ck.’s mouth Mouth of Stream
Chester Creek W. Branch’s mouth Mouth of Stream
Buck Run Doe Run’s mouth Mouth of Stream


Figure 1. Warmwater Stream Smallmouth Bass and Rock Bass Catch per unit effort (CPUE) per hour

Figure 1

-- Area 6

2009 Survey of Warmwater Streams

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