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Entries in smallmouth bass (55)


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."


Rebuilding Flaming Gorge's Smallmouth Fishery

Hoping to help revitalize the smallmouth fishery in its portion of Flaming Gorge, Wyoming implemented catch-and-release, effective January 1 of this year.

“The catch and release regulation implemented on the Wyoming portion of the reservoir is intended to keep the remaining bass in the water so they can spawn every spring and help rebuild the bass population as burbot numbers decrease," said biologist John Walrath.

"Fall netting data suggest burbot numbers are no longer increasing at an alarming rate but instead may be slightly decreasing.  The catch rates of the larger and older burbot have definitely decreased in recent years.”

Burbot predation is believed to have been a primary cause of the disappearing smallmouth population. From 2003 to 2013, bronzeback catch rates declined by  97 percent in the northern third of the impoundment, where burbot densities were the highest.


Havasu Yields Another Colorado River record for Arizona

Ho-hum. Lake Havasu, a 19,300-acre impoundment on the border with California has yielded another Arizona Colorado waters record fish.

Of course, the  record smallmouth bass, checking in at 6 pounds and 4.48 ounces, wasn't boring for Sue Nowak. "I thought it was a tree stump or rock," she said. "Then the snag moved."

Fishing with Shaun Bailey's Guide Service on Feb. 23, Nowak caught the big bronzeback on a dropshot-rigged True Image Mini Shaker finesse worm in lemonade.

The fish surpasses the 5-10  caught on Lake Havasu by Justin Kerr in 2011. According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) it "was weighed on an AGFD certified scale at Bass Tackle Master in Lake Havasu City." It added, "And so, this catch answers our question from just one month ago: Where will the next Arizona state record come from."

By comparison, the "inland waters" record is 7-1, caught by Dennis Barnhill at Roosevelt Lake in 1988. AZGFD maintains separate records for the Colorado River.

Biologist Russ Engel said, “Havasu fishing is getting better. It’s become very good in the past few years. The fisheries improvement program has made a big difference. The number of shad are making a comeback as well. When those small baitfish numbers go up, every fish in the lake does well.”

For 15 years, AGFD has worked with sportsmen's groups and federal agencies in one of the nation's largest enhancements projects  on 19,300-acre Havasu, installing more than 875 acres of artificial habitat in 42 coves to attract fish and enhance spawning and fry survival.

Other Colorado River records caught at Havasu include redear sunfish (5.8), green sunfish (1.33), black crappie (2.75), carp (42) and razorback sucker (9.81).

The lake also has yielded a 37-pound striper. Additionally, the lake contains trout and catfish, with both shad and tilapia as forage.


That's Not a Goby . . . THIS Is a Goby!

Fish in the top photo is a round goby, an exotic fish introduced to the Great Lakes in the ballast water of ocean-going ships. They grow to about 6 inches maximum, but 3 to 4 inches is the norm. Also, they have proven to be among the favorite forage for smallmouth bass, and anecdotal evidence suggests that they are growing faster and larger on a goby diet.

Fish in the bottom photo is the world record marbled goby, caught in Thailand by John Merritt. It checked in at 5 pound, 3 ounces. IGFA says that it is "likely the largest of gobies." And with a mouth like that, it likely could turn the tables on some of those smallmouth bass that are eating its smaller, globe-trotting cousin.

You can see more "weird world records" at Sport Fishing.

The International Sport Fishing Association (IGFA) is the official record keeper for both fresh and saltwater species. You can see the full list here. For line class records and additional information, you must become a member.


Battling the Big Ones

With the fish so well hooked, Dance understandably thought that he was about to land the biggest smallmouth bass of his young life, possibly even a world’s record. Based on mounts that he had seen at a taxidermist, he was certain that this bass weighed more than 10 pounds.

Excerpt from "The Big Picture," about Bill Dance and other notable anglers who tangled with trophy fish in Why We Fish: Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen.