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Smallmouth bass with cancer caught in Susquehanna River

Posted at 10:20 AM, May 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-07 10:20:18-04

PENNSYLVANIA (WPMT) — A smallmouth bass with a giant tumor on its lip caught last year in the Susquehanna River has tested positive for cancer, Pennsylvania’s Fish and Boat Commission said.

The commission said the fish’s condition is rare, but local fishermen aren’t surprised. Jacob Myers and his family have been fishing on the river for decades. He joked about the abnormalities in the fish he’s caught.

“You know, we’re just waiting to catch one with three eyes,” Myers said.

The bass in question was caught in November 2014. It’s the only document case of this type of malignant tumor found on a smallmouth bass in the state, officials said.

“If you go up to Sunbury where Juniata lets in, you can just see there’s a big clean mark into the Susquehanna where the Juniata lets in and then it’s all muddy. It’s pretty bad but it’s what we’ve got to fish,” Myers said.

The Susquehanna is notoriously polluted. Two years ago, the state’s fish and boat commission sought to have the waterway declared impaired. But the Department of Environmental Protection doesn’t agree.

That agency said there is not a clear distinction between whether there’s a water quality issue or if it’s a bass problem.

Regardless of the reason, residents who spoke with WPMT said they would never eat a fish from the river. For them, it’s a game of catch and release.

“I feel that it’s unsafe. If we were to catch a fish you would see the spots and stuff that are already on the bass,” fisherman Aleem Harden said. “It’s just that right there is enough for me. I wouldn’t dare.”

State fishing officials are still urging the Department of Environmental protection to add the river to its list of impaired waters.