Concern over dead, sick fish in Susquehanna River

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. - It's not a lovely sight - or smell, for that matter. Dead fish along the Susquehanna River.

Fishermen in Goldsboro, York County said they're finding dead catfish in unusually high numbers.

"You'll see big fish coming down, like 30 inches, that are dead, belly up, sores all over them," Jesse Dellen Jr., a fisherman, said. "Skin half eaten off."

"I'm 63 and I've been fishing at the river since I was 6 years old," Ken Shartzer, a fisherman, said. "And I haven't seen anything like this."

The PA Fish and Boat Commission said they have received reports of dead catfish and carp on the Susquehanna and Juniata River. Their biologists have seen them too. They said it's common, though, as both species spawn in the summer, and the stress can make them more susceptible to diseases. Shartzer said it's not the dead fish, but the lesions that concern him.

"It's alarming," Shartzer said. "That's all I can say. It's alarming. I'm not a biologist but something's wrong. I think over there is a dead one."

But for these fishermen, the concerns go far beyond the unpleasant smell.

"How's it effecting the water? With people out there swimming... Yes it's smelly," Dellen said. "It's just nasty looking. It's like what's happening? It's like something you see on some crazy movie with zombies or something. That's what it looks like."

"We have to find out what's happening here," Shartzer said. "What's going on with the fish. Because that's a lot of people's livelihood."

The PA Fish and Boat Commission has a hotline for people to report suspected pollution or serious poaching. The number is 1-855-FISH-KIL (1-855-347-4545).
They ask you don't collect any samples.

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