Which types of fish inhabit the rivers of Pittsburgh?

Tourist Attractions

By Kristy Tolley

Introduction to Pittsburgh’s River Fish

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is known for its three major rivers, the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela, which converge in the heart of the city. These rivers provide an important habitat for a diverse array of fish species, both native and non-native. Fishing has been a popular activity in Pittsburgh for generations, with anglers seeking out game fish such as smallmouth bass and walleye, as well as catfish and other species.

The Three Rivers: Ohio, Allegheny, Monongahela

The Ohio River is the largest of the three rivers, stretching over 981 miles from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Illinois, where it meets the Mississippi River. The Allegheny River flows 325 miles from northern Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh, where it joins the Monongahela River to form the Ohio. The Monongahela River flows 128 miles from its headwaters in West Virginia to Pittsburgh. These three rivers provide a diverse range of habitats for fish, including fast-moving rapids, deep pools, and shallow riffles.

Native and Non-Native Fish Species

Many of the fish species found in Pittsburgh’s rivers are native to the region, including smallmouth bass, channel catfish, and brown trout. However, non-native species such as rainbow trout, carp, and Asian carp have also been introduced to the rivers. These non-native species can have negative impacts on the local ecosystem, outcompeting native species and altering the food chain.

The Endangered Shortnose Sturgeon

One of the most endangered fish species in Pittsburgh’s rivers is the shortnose sturgeon. This species was once abundant in the region, but overfishing, habitat loss, and pollution have led to a significant decline in its population. Efforts are being made to protect and restore shortnose sturgeon populations, including habitat restoration and fishing regulations.

Smallmouth bass are one of the most popular game fish in Pittsburgh’s rivers. These fish are known for their strong fighting ability and can be found in both the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. Smallmouth bass are catch and release only in Pennsylvania and must be at least 12 inches in length to keep.

The Elusive Walleye: A Favorite Catch

Walleye are another popular game fish in Pittsburgh’s rivers. These fish are known for their delicious taste and can be found in the Ohio River. Walleye can be difficult to catch, but anglers who are successful are often rewarded with a large and tasty fish.

Surprising Sightings: American Eel

The American eel is an unusual sight in Pittsburgh’s rivers, but they can occasionally be found in the Ohio River. These eels are catadromous, which means they live in freshwater rivers but migrate to the ocean to spawn. American eels are not commonly targeted by anglers, but they are an important part of the local ecosystem.

The Remarkable Catfish: Channel and Flathead

Catfish are a common sight in Pittsburgh’s rivers, with two species in particular, channel catfish and flathead catfish, being highly sought after by anglers. Channel catfish can be found throughout the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela rivers, while flathead catfish are primarily found in the Ohio River. Both species can grow to massive sizes, with channel catfish reaching up to 40 pounds and flathead catfish reaching over 100 pounds.

Uncommon Finds: Sauger and Shovelnose Sturgeon

Sauger and shovelnose sturgeon are two lesser-known fish species that can be found in Pittsburgh’s rivers. Sauger are similar to walleye in appearance and can be found in the Ohio River, while shovelnose sturgeon are a smaller relative of the shortnose sturgeon and can be found in the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers.

Invasive Species: The Notorious Asian Carp

Asian carp are a non-native species that have caused significant problems in many of the rivers and lakes where they have been introduced. These fish are known for their ability to quickly reproduce and outcompete native species for food and habitat. Efforts are being made to prevent the spread of Asian carp in Pittsburgh’s rivers, including the installation of barriers and other control measures.

Fishing Regulations and Licenses in Pittsburgh

In order to fish in Pittsburgh’s rivers, anglers must have a valid fishing license and follow all state regulations. These regulations include size and bag limits for certain species of fish, as well as restrictions on fishing methods and gear. Anglers should also be aware of any special regulations or closures in effect for specific sections of the rivers.

Conclusion: Protecting Pittsburgh’s River Fish

Pittsburgh’s rivers are an important habitat for a diverse array of fish species, both native and non-native. While fishing is a popular activity in the region, it is important to protect these fish populations and their habitats through responsible fishing practices and conservation efforts. By working together, we can ensure that Pittsburgh’s rivers remain a healthy ecosystem for generations to come.

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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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