PFBC Confirms Bass with Black Spots Found and Should Be Okay to Eat
If conservation of our dwindling wild fish stocks haven't convinced you to practice catch and release, maybe smallmouth bass with black blotches on them with cause these fish to be released.
The black marks, most often found on the head, lips, tail or fins is often referred to by fisheries scientists as melanosis. Fisheries biologists don't know what causes the condition but according to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), the fish are safe to consume under the state’s general fish consumption guidelines. That's very reassuring. We don't know what causes the condition, but Bon Appétit!
Late last year anglers began voicing their concern about the black blotches on the bass, but according to Andy Shiels, PFBC deputy director of operations, the black blotch condition has been occasionally observed in Pennsylvania water since 1980.
Previously, the blotchy bass condition has been documented in the Susquehanna River (2011, 2006); Cowanesque Lake, Tioga County (2003); the Allegheny River (1999); and in the 1980s in Conneaut Lake (Crawford County), Presque Isle Bay (Erie County), Raystown Lake and several other waters. It also was observed in New York’s Hudson River during the 1980s.
There's another condition affecting smallmouth bass in Pennsylvania primarily affecting young-of-year smallmouthbass. This disease outbreak has been so severe that the PFBC was compelled to place catch and release regulations on all smallmouth and largemouth bass on portions of the Susquehanna and Juniata rivers and on their tributaries with a season closure season from May 1 through June 15.
If you run into any sick fish in Pennsylvania the commission would like to hear about it. They've set up a website just for this purpose www.fishandboat.com/bassproblems.htm.