As he released sampling results recently, Ohio biologist Travis Hartman praised B.A.S.S. for its assistance in a survey during the Bassmaster Pro Shops Northern Open on Lake Erie last fall.
“We get more smallmouth and largemouth biological samples from your tournaments than we get anywhere else,” said the fisheries expert for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Sandusky Fish Research Unit.
“We greatly appreciate your cooperation.”
Incredibly, competitors caught smallmouth bass from 16 year classes, with the oldest 17 years old.
“A lot of the trophy fish are 10 to 15 years old,” Hartman said. “Usually the older fish aren’t the largest, because they are slower growing.”
The most productive year classes for smallmouths were 2005 and 2007.
Anglers brought in largemouth bass from nine year classes, with the oldest being 12. Year classes 2007, 2008, and 2009 yielded the most fish.
The event provided more largemouths than biologists had seen in the past, Hartman pointed out, including some that measured 19 inches. He added that anglers have been catching more in recent years near shore and around islands, “getting good numbers and size.”
The mean length for the 758 smallmouth bass measured was 16.6 inches (the average of all lengths divided by the number of fish), while the mean length for 53 largemouths was 16 inches.
Biologists originally planned to measure all fish caught on the first two days and keep the deceased. Then with the field reduced to 12 competitors on the final day, all bass would be kept and taken to the lab to determine age and gender, as well as length and weight.
But with the second day of the tournament cancelled, they decided to keep 136 bass on Thursday. Biologists measured and weighed these fish, as well as determined sex and age (from otoliths, or ear bones).