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Entries in trophy bass (67)


Myths About Bass Exposed

For some bass anglers, their favorite soft drink isn't the one that they prefer to drink. It's the one that they pour on fish.

While professional athletes, especially baseball players, are noted for their superstitions, fishermen, especially those who fish for bass, "take the case" when it comes to myths. The problem isn't that they are ignorant. The problem is that they know so many things that simply aren't so, including the belief that pouring a soft drink on a fish's gills to stop the bleeding is a good idea.

This is not to suggest that it  doesn't work. Plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests that it does. And Dr. Bruce Tufts, a fisheries expert at Queen's University in Ontario, said this:

"I've discussed this with my physiology colleagues and we're pretty confident we can explain it. The carbonation (carbon dioxide) in pop causes the gills to vasoconstrict and stop bleeding. It's a pretty cool scientific explanation."

But while it might stop the bleeding, it also feeds into possibly the greatest myth among bass anglers: Any bass released alive is healthy and will survive.

"Too many bass fishermen don't understand delayed mortality," said Gene Gilliland, National Conservation Director for B.A.S.S. and a fisheries biologist who has seen the soft drink solution employed. "They think that you can just add water and forget about it."

But resource managers, marina owners, and those who live near tournament sites know otherwise. They've seen the bodies of bass that looked healthy when released, but later died because of stress, infection, or injury.

Similarly, Coke or Mountain Dew might stop the bleeding, providing a visible and immediate fix, but what does it do to the delicate gill structure long term?

 Such tricks are well intended, "but so misguided," said Judy Tipton, an ardent angler, conservationist, and inventor of the V-T2 livewell ventilation system. Just putting the fish into water, she added, also slows down the bleeding, without possible delayed side effects.

"Until it (soda) is tested for delayed mortality, we don't know the effects," Gilliland said. "Whether it's good or bad is an unknown.

"What we do know is that the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) has approved only ice, salt, and oxygen (for fish care). So we don't recommend anything else."

Myths abound related to the spawn too, including the notion that bass spawn only during a full moon. Perhaps it's the romantic in us that perpetuates this one, but hatcheries have proven it verifiably false. Day length and water temperature are the determining factors, especially the latter.

"Hatchery managers who make a living spawning bass report bass spawning on all moon phases," said Dr. Hal Schramm, a long-time fisheries researcher for the U.S. Geological Survey. "Peak spawning occurs when water temperature is 64 to 68 degrees."

Also, Schramm added, female bass do not help guard the eggs, as many anglers believe. Rather, they often are "loose women" who move on to spawn in multiple nests.

"You will find a female bass at a nest before she spawns," he said. "Every biological study of bass spawning has found that the male guards the eggs and the female spawns and leaves."

Plenty of weather-related myths are out there too. But the one that gets the greatest "rise" out of anglers is related to barometric pressure. They believe that high pressure turns off the bite.

In truth, bass probably barely notice the pressure difference, if at all.

"Water doesn't compress like air," said Gilliland. "If you are underwater, the difference is almost immeasurable. All a bass has to do is adjust the air in its bladder and move up or down a few inches. Barometric pressure probably doesn't affect a bass directly." 

Instead conditions related to the pressure change, such as clouds, wind, rain, and rising water, affect the fish's feeding pattern. "Pressure affects the environment and the food chain, not the bass," Gilliland said.

Finally, if an angler elects to keep 10- or 12-pound bass, "the trophy of a lifetime," catch-and-release zealots should just calm down and go fishing. Removing that double-digit bass from the fishery doesn't trigger its collapse.

"When a bass gets to be that size, it's probably not going to live that much longer," Gilliland said. "It's had plenty of time to spawn."

Plus, as female bass age, their reproductive capacity declines. The most fertile and productive bass are typically 5 to 7 pounds.

But whether you've caught a 5-pounder or a 10-pounder, if it is bleeding from the gills, you might want to consider keeping it. Or, if you choose to release it, follow the lead of doctors who practice the Hippocratic Oath and "do no harm." Save the Coke for yourself.

(A variation of this article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)


Caddo Angler Catches Second 15-Pounder for ShareLunker Program 

Ronnie Arnold earned himself a unique place in Texas' Toyota ShareLunker program recently, when he landed a 15.7-pound largemouth bass in Caddo Lake, a fishery on the border with Louisiana.

In donating the fish to the trophy bass spawning program managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Arnold became the first angler to enter two fish of 15 pounds or more. In 2009, he caught a 15.1-pound fish, also at Caddo.

Seventeen anglers have multiple entries, including five with three fish. Bill Reed's two were the heaviest pair collectively, with one weighing 16.54 pounds and the other 14.91.

Arnold's catch was the ninth from Caddo donated to the program begun in 1986. The lake record, 16.17, was entered by Keith Burns in 2010. Then, Sean Swank caught the same fish in 2011, when its weigh had dropped slightly to 16.07.

The latest Caddo entry was the third of the spring statewide for ShareLunker and No. 568 since the program began in 1986. It also was the largest since Swank's catch.

With a minimum weight requirement of 13 pounds, the program was established "to promote catch-and-release of large fish and to selectively breed trophy largemouth bass," TPWD said. "The first fish entered into the program was also a new state record, a 17.67-pounder caught from Lake Fork in November (1986)."

The first ShareLunker of the 2017 season, meanwhile, also was historic. Testing revealed the 13.07-pound fish caught at Marine Creek Lake was spawned from ShareLunker 410 and a male ShareLunker offspring. That made it the first of that size from  specially selected trophy-potential parents paired in 2006 as part of a research project to evaluate the growth of selectively bred, faster-growing Florida largemouths in public reservoirs.

“The catch of ShareLunker 566 from Marine Creek Lake not only validates the goal of TPWD’s selective breeding program of producing ShareLunker-size bass, but also demonstrates how anglers can help others by donating their ShareLunkers to TPWD for breeding purposes,” said ShareLunker Program Coordinator Kyle Brookshear.


Kansas' La Cygne Yields Double-Digit Bass

In late March, a tournament angler caught one of the biggest largemouth bass every taken in Kansas public waters. At the late afternoon weigh-in on La Cygne, Jeremy Conway's double-digit bass checked in an 10 pounds, 15 ounces.

The last two state records, 11.8 (11-13) and 11.75, were taken in private waters. Record before that was 11 pounds, 3 ounces. 

Doug Nygren, fisheries chief for the Department of Wildlife and Parks, wasn't surprised that this 2,600-acre impoundment in eastern Kansas yielded the lunker.

"There's just no doubt that La Cygne is the best of our lakes when it comes to quality bass," he said. "Most years, out of all those lakes we sample, the biggest are in La Cygne. It's special."

Nearly half of bass over 8 pounds collected during sampling of state waters since 1979 have come there, he added.

Genetics likely play a role. Nearly 40 years ago, Florida strain bass were stocked with the hope that they would thrive in the warmer water provided by discharges from a coal-fired power plant. No research has been done in the past few years, but La Cygne bass reflected that genetic tie for decades after.

In addition to a longer growing season, the fishery also has good habitat, including water willow, and an abundance of big bluegill. Offspring of the latter provides plenty of food for bass, Nygren said.

Conway caught the big bass on his first cast of the day, using a Rapala crankbait and 10-pound line.



Record Field Expected for Bassmaster High School Southern Open On Chickamauga

Big things just keep happening at Chickamauga Lake.
Last week, the 36,240-acre Tennessee River impoundment hosted a Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open, with John Cox winning the pro division and Darrell Davis landing an 11-pound, 5-ounce largemouth that ranks as the biggest bass caught in a B.A.S.S. event this year.
Now the lake is about to play host to the largest field in the 50-year tournament history of B.A.S.S.
The Costa Bassmaster High School Southern Open presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods is scheduled for Saturday, with takeoff at 6:40 a.m. ET from Blue Water Resort. The weigh-in is set for 2:40 p.m. at Dayton City Boat Dock, with a massive field of 416 boats.
With two anglers and a team captain or coach in each boat, more than 1,200 participants will be on the water. The previous record for tournament field size was 332 boats, set last April in a High School Open on Lake Guntersville.
“The overwhelming popularity of high school fishing just keeps shining through in these events,” said Hank Weldon, B.A.S.S. College and High School Series senior manager. “We’re talking about an incredible field — and they’ll be on an incredible fishery, which we saw with last week’s Open.
“It’s going to be a really exciting moment for the sport.”
Spawning bass played a major role in last week’s event at Chickamauga. Cox fished exclusively for bedding fish to catch his three-day total of 68-3, weighing in daily limits of 22-6, 25-7 and 20-6.
Saturday’s event is one of four High School Opens that qualify student anglers for the Costa Bassmaster High School Championship presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, which will be held on Kentucky Lake in June. The Western High School Open on Lake Oroville, California, also is being held Saturday. In addition to top anglers in the Opens, the highest-finishing competitors in state championships and sanctioned high school team trails also are invited to the High School Championship.


Near State Record Bass Caught in Florida

Dominic Montalto recently caught a bass just 8 ounces off the Florida record of 17-4.  Taken at a private pond in Estero, his 16-pound, 12-ounce lunker is now the heaviest catch leader for season 5 of the TrophyCatch program.

“When I first saw the fish, I thought it was a log with a volleyball under it – until it moved,” said Dominic. “Once I realized it was a big bass, I started targeting it and just kept trying until it took the bait.”

Dominic was fishing from shore around dusk, using a Johnny Morris Titanium 8 heavy-action rod with a Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier 7.1:1 reel and a XPS Z9R Perch Swimbait lure in bluegill color.

He is 19 years old and learned to fish from his father, Joe. The Montalto family refers to themselves as a “fishing family,” noting that they made the move from Illinois to Florida a year ago and specifically selected their home based on nearby fishing ponds. Dominic  attends Florida Gulf Coast University, where he is pursuing a degree in physical therapy.

A team of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists verified the accuracy of Dominic’s scale, catch videos and photos.

TrophyCatch is a partnership between FWC biologists, anglers and fishing industry leaders, such as Bass Pro Shops, that rewards the catch, documentation and release of largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or heavier in Florida. To be eligible for prizes, anglers must submit photos or videos of their catch to, showing the fish’s weight on a scale, before releasing it. FWC biologists use TrophyCatch data for bass research, to make informed decisions about the management of Florida bass fisheries, and to promote the catch-and-release of trophy bass.

Dominic’s trophy bass qualifies him for the TrophyCatch Hall of Fame Club, which offers rewards for catches weighing 13 pounds or heavier. Hall of Fame Club catches are celebrated at a ceremony each year and club members receive $100 gift cards to Bass Pro Shops and/or Rapala, a fiberglass replica mount from New Wave Taxidermy, a $50 SpiderWire merchandise credit code, and a Fitzgerald Rod, among other prizes. Since the beginning of Season 5 in October, 12 Hall of Fame bass have been approved.

Dominic’s catch also puts him in the lead for becoming the TrophyCatch Champion, which is awarded to the angler with the heaviest catch of the season. Anglers have until Sept. 30 to submit their catches.

Anglers are also eligible to win the TrophyCatch Grand Prize, which is awarded to the angler with the heaviest combined weight of approved catches throughout the entire season. The Grand Prize includes a Shimano prize pack of G. Loomis and Metanium combo, and a Lake County tourism prize pack of a three-day, two-night stay in Lake County with a fishing trip guided by professional angler Tim Frederick. Second prize includes a Shimano prize pack of Expride and Chronarch MGL combo. Third prize includes a Shimano prize pack of Exage and Casitas combo. 

The FWC encourages anglers to join TrophyCatch as citizen-scientists to assist in fisheries management and the conservation of Florida’s lakes and rivers. A new TrophyCatch mobile app is available for download on both Apple and Android devices. For more information about the TrophyCatch program, email Amber Nabors at