Re: NANFA-- Native fish in Potomac River Basin

Dave Neely (
Wed, 03 Nov 1999 11:31:24 CST


>A question for the list. Does anyone care to speculate (or know) >what the
>original fish population of the upper Potomac River would >have looked
>like. It seems to me that all of the large fish are >introduced(smallmouth,
>largemouth, channel catfish, walleye, carp). >Would redhorse, redbreast
>sunfish, fallfish, and rock bass have been >much more abundant or would the
>biomass have been made up of smaller >fish. Does any historical data

There's a really neat section in Jenkins and Burkhead (1993) on native
fishes of the upper Potomac. Actually, rock bass aren't native to the basin.
J&B also make the statement that "the only native upland freshwater fishes
present and valued as game or food were chain pickerel, white catfish,
yellow and brown bullhead, brook trout, pumpkinseed, redbreast sunfish, and
yellow perch." They then note that some of these may have only occurred
below Great Falls, which calls into question why he didn't include various
clupeids, Acipenser and Morone, which almost certainly were abundant, but
occurred only below the Falls. J&B also noted that Anguilla and Semotilus
also were large fish in the upper basin that may have been utilized.
Certainly the large hatchery built in DC by the US Fish Commission played a
large role in the many introductions of large piscivores into the basin.

Early collections from the Potomac and New basins in the Smithsonian (USNM)
seem to indicate that the densities weren't all that different from
contemporary habitats, but that species diversity and compositions were in
many cases drastically different.


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