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Entries in smallmouth bass (59)


Possible State Record Smallmouth Caught In Montana

Mike Dominick caught this 7.51-pound smallmouth bass Sept. 23 on Montana's Fort Peck Reservoir and weighed on a certified scale. Likely state will recognize it as state record, surpassing 7.4-pounder caught in 2016 at Flathead Lake.

“I think an 8-pounder will be caught next year,” he said, noting that the fish he caught would be about 8 pounds if it was full of eggs during the spawn.

Fort Peck could easily produce that next big bass, he believes. On his last trip he caught five fish over 6 pounds. One trip he and another angler caught 30 smallmouth over 3 pounds in an hour-and-a-half and never moved the boat. The reason the fish are so beefy is the large baitfish population. He’s seen bass stuffed full of cisco, an introduced species also known as lake herring.

“They’ve got the perfect recipe for growing them, as long as the bait keeps up,” Dominick said.


New Arkansas Bass Plan Includes Smallouth, Spots

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) has released its blueprint for improving bass fishing. Unlike previous versions in 1990 and 2002, this latest Reservoir Black Bass Management Plan focuses on smallmouth and spotted bass, as well as largemouth.

In announcing this latest update, AGFC said the mission of plan "is to facilitate the management of a fishery--- fish, habitats, and people--- and provide background and guidelines for AGFC's management of Arkansas reservoirs and lakes while utilizing the best available science and practicing adaptive management."

According to the plan, variables that resource managers must consider include sampling, habitat, health and disease, tournament fishing, supplemental stocking, population characteristics, and human dimensions.

Goals include the following:

  • Managing black bass fisheries using the best data available for decision making, including current and historical standardized sampling data, the scientific body of literature, and this plan.
  • Striving to better understand black bass anglers and to increase interaction with them to make them aware of our efforts, incorporate their preferences into management decisions, and foster greater collaboration and trust from both parties.
  • Using science-based methods to evaluate reservoir habitat quality, and prescribe both chemical and physical methods for habitat enhancement where necessary.
  • Maximizing efficiency and effectiveness of the AGFC culture system to produce sufficient quantities of fish to meet management goals. Evaluating the contribution of stocked fish to reservoir fish populations to ensure that resources are maximized.
  • Seeking to obtain the personnel, equipment, and other resources necessary to carry out the provisions of this plan.

KVD Reveals How to Boat More Bass

You’ll catch more bass if you set the hook properly. Many anglers mistakenly use the same “hard jerk” set for all baits, instead of just Texas-rig soft plastics.

I once asked Kevin VanDam, one of the nation’s top bass anglers, to tell me how he sets hooks and keep it simple. The information was for an article that I was writing for young anglers.

But just about any bass fisherman can benefit from Kevin’s experience.

Texas-rig soft plastics: “You have to drive the hook through the plastic,” he says. “I like a little slack line. I drop the rod tip and hit real hard.”

Spinnerbaits: “It’s more of a pull set. Let the rod load up and pull into the fish. Reel hard and pull.”

Topwaters: “Reel until you feel the weight of the fish and then set the hook. Today’s (treble) hooks are so good, so sharp, that you don’t need to set the hook hard.”

Crankbaits: “Reel and pull.”

Light-tackle spinning gear: “I don’t jerk at all. I reel set. I reel fast and let the rod load up before I pull. I fish for smallmouths a lot with a spin rod. If I miss a bite, I let the rod back down and smallmouth bass will hit it (bait) again.”

Braided line: “You don’t need to jerk nearly as hard. That’s important to remember because there’s no give there. (By contrast, monofilament line “stretches.”) With braided line, you want a shock absorber, like a softer rod tip. I use it for certain applications only.”


Bass Populations Improving at Greers Ferry

Finally, resource managers have good news  regarding the bass fishery at Greers Ferry Lake.

"The bottom line is the largemouth and smallmouth bass populations are no longer declining and are starting to improve," said Matt Schroeder, fisheries biologist for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC).

That's probably because of the stocking of threadfin shad and recent high water.

“All told, we stocked close to 600,000 shad (in 2016),” the biologist said. “We stocked 200,000 in the lake and then we raised another 400,000 in the (Greers Ferry) nursery pond.

“The Joe Hogan Hatchery at Lonoke also purchased threadfin shad to use as brood fish in their first attempts at culturing the species. The Andrew Hulsey Hatchery at Hot Springs used brood fish obtained from Lake Hamilton. They were both successful in their efforts and provided over 150,000 of the fish that went into Greers.”

Shad also were stocked in June, with plans to continue the program for three more years.

Meanwhile, water was 7 feet above normal pool in early May, meaning flooded buckbrush and trees provided much needed refuge for recently spawned bass.

"High water also delivers more nutrients into the lake, which promotes better phytoplankton and zooplankton blooms, the base of the aquatic food chain," Schroeder said. "Plankton are an important food source for young black bass, as well as other predator species before they convert to insects and prey fish.

"Important prey species such as threadfin shad are planktivores and feed on plankton their entire lives."

Populations of bass and other sport fish began to decline following a forage crash in 2013 and 2014. Likely, an overabundance of predator species, including stripers and walleye, ate up most of the shad. And consecutive harsh winters could have wiped out survivors, since threadfin die when water temperatures drop below 45 degrees.

“That’s just speculation, our best guess as to what caused it," Schroeder said. "We have nothing empirical as to why."


Largemouth Stocked as Smallmouth Killed at Elkhead Reservoir

The war on bass in the West has taken a conciliatory turn in Colorado, at least. Responding to public outcry at the possible loss of the warmwater fishery in Elkhead Reservoir, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and volunteers with boats stocked 120 largemouth bass, weighing 3 to 6 pounds each, during June.  

Earlier in the year, 125,000 fry were added to the fishery in northwest Colorado, while 680 yearlings were released in 2016, the first bass legally stocked in the fishery since the 1980s.

"We are increasing stocking for more opportunities for anglers to catch alternative species in place of the species that we are trying to reduce for downstream management," said CPW biologist Tory Ayre.

Meanwhile, CPW also sponsored a June 24-July 2 tournament, offering financial incentives for anglers to remove as many smallmouth bass and northern pike from the Yampa River impoundment as possible.

What's going on? Why stock largemouth bass and kill smallmouth? Resource managers believe that the latter and pike escape over the spillway and threaten recovery of four federally endangered species: humpback chub, bonytail, Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker. CPW is mandated by law to protect those native fish.

Initially, biologists considered poisoning the 900-acre reservoir and restocking with more desirable species. But opposition from local anglers convinced them to take another approach, which includes a net across the spillway, an annual "kill tournament" for smallmouth and pike, and stocking with largemouth, bluegill, and crappie.

"It's great, we appreciate the CPW's help," said volunteer Norm Fedde. "We know they are for the sportsmen, but the federal government is not."

For the week-long tournament, which has no entry fee, CPW tagged one smallmouth bass and one pike, each worth $1,500. Additionally, the agency gave $750 each to the anglers who caught the most of each species, as well as a variety of daily prizes.

To the south, meanwhile, CPW sponsored the third annual "kill" tournament for smallmouth bass July 7-30 at Ridgway Reservoir in Ridgway State Park. The fish were illegally introduced there about a decade ago, and also pose a risk of escaping into rivers to threaten native species.

"A primary mission of Colorado Parks and Wildlife is to work to sustain native species," said John Alves, senior aquatic biologist for CPW's Southwest Region. "Colorado's anglers contribute significantly to our work and we greatly appreciate their support in helping us to maintain the state's fisheries."