December 02, 2021

Since today was another 70+F (21+C) day, we decided to take off early and see if we could find the bluegills that had been feeding so voraciously last week.  When we arrived at the reservoir, we were not surprised to find others had had the same idea.  Luckily (I thought) the spot where we had caught our fish last week was still open.  Melissa tossed out her bobber while I set up my fly rod.  Rather than going with my trusty trout magnet, I decided to tie on the black woolly with an elk hair drop that has been so effective.  I fished for a half hour without is bite and Melissa only got 2 bites on the worm.  There was another couple fishing in my usual spot, and as they left the man told Melissa they had been catching a lot of fish.  After they left, we snuck over to see if we could do any better.  This time I threw out a worm as well and immediately caught a 12-inch (30 centimeter) bass.

When I looked online, I found the largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) is a carnivorous freshwater gamefish in the Centrarchidae (sunfish) family.  This species of black bass is native to the eastern and central US, southeastern Canada, and northern Mexico.  The fish is known by a variety of regional names.  The largemouth bass is an olive-green to greenish gray fish, marked by a series of dark, sometimes black, blotches forming a jagged horizontal stripe along each flank.  The upper jaw (maxilla) of a largemouth bass extends beyond the rear margin of the orbit (eye).  The largemouth is the largest of the black basses, reaching a maximum recorded overall length of 29.5 in (75 cm) and a maximum unofficial weight of 25 pounds 1 ounce (11.4 kg).  The Arkansas state record for the largemouth bass is 16 pounds 8 ounces (7.4 kg).  I do not think my fish was a challenge.

Many of the lakes and ponds we fish are part of the state’s Family and Community Fishing program.  This program provides fishing opportunities throughout Arkansas with fishing events, beginner fishing clinics, and tagged fish contests in selected cities throughout each year.  More than 50,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout are stocked each winter from November through February across the state in Family and Community Fishing Program destinations.  While most of these trout average just under a pound, a few 2-5 pounders are stocked each year.  Every sign I have seen at the entrance of one of these fisheries is the same.  It lists the creel limits (different than other state fisheries), with catfish (3), bream (25), and where applicable, trout (5).  Largemouth bass are said to be in these lakes but must be released immediately into the water.  I have only seen bass in one of these lakes, and never caught one.  The lake we were at today is not part of the program and did it have a sign with the reduced creel limits. 

Thoughts:  I have always heard bass are as elusive trout.  If you see them, they have probably seen you, and they will not bite.  Melissa and I fished a city pond when we lived in Wichita that was full of bass.  The bank had been built up to protect it from erosion and you could look down from a height of about 8 feet into the clear water.  There were always dozens of catchable-sized bass prowling the intermittent weed beds in the shallows.  Although we fished the pond several times a year, we were never able to get a bite.  Most wild animals are wary of humans but can be acclimated through repeated peaceful contact and even domesticated.  Oddly, it is the domesticated animals that should have the most to fear.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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