My primary focus over the last 20 years has been the largemouth bass but that’s not to say that there haven’t been occasional forays into chasing other species along with more than a few rewarding bass fishing “accidents”. To go along with my 4263 largemouth bass since 1997, here’s the rest of the 20-year tale of the tape on other species.
Coincidentally, my first ever muskie came back in 1997, a complete accident while casting a Zara Spook for bass on Snakeden’s Lake McMaster one nasty, rainy September morning with Dad. I’d been camping nearby at Little John Conservation Club and had trolling motor issues the previous evening that ruined a proposed outing. Then, the following morning it was raining so hard at the campsite that when Dad showed up to meet me we had to make sandwiches for lunch in the cab of his truck. But once on the water, every cast has the potential to brighten your day…
Among those walleye on the list are a pair which combined for 18 pounds out of Lake Storey. Dad was there for the largest of that pair too. In the interest of honesty, both of those fish were bass fishing mistakes as well, but I’ll take ‘em.
More or less annual creek fishing trips also helped to rack up a few catches as did panfishing trips for “coon bait.” In addition, the arrival of kids has contributed to further panfish catches but the bulk of those go on the ledgers of those budding anglers as I’m generally too busy playing guide to actually fish. A completely different source of enjoyment on the water that I really never thought much about way back in 1997.
Anyway, more than a few tales in there regarding some of those other catches but since the vast majority of recent years has been spent bass fishing I’ll leave the rest of those tales for other days and move on to some largemouth numbers.
20 Year Bass Length Totals
We’ll start with a graph that displays the size distribution of the 4,263 bass landed in the last 20 years. I still measure every catch to the nearest half inch and weigh those that measure up at 12” or better.
Shortest bass: 4.5” Lake Bracken 5/31/99 Crappie tube
Longest bass: 23.5” Buckheart Strip Mines – Fulton County 8/16/06 Senko
23.5” Emiquon Preserve 9/2/09 Crankbait
Notes: Speaking of Emiquon, the distribution certainly got a boost of 12+” bass with the arrival of fishing at the site in 2009. I’ll save the specifics for tomorrow’s report but the percentage at 12” or better was just staggering.
20 Year Yearly Bass Totals
Next up is the breakdown of bass caught each year. Really kind of weird here as I am not entirely sure what happened during 1998 and 2008 but apparently had something else to do besides fishing. At any rate, I hope it is not a ten year thing as 2018 might look a little bleak if that’s the case.
Top Year = 2013: 345 bass The decision to take a couple hikes into some IRAP ground certainly helped set the record with 99 bass in just under nine hours. Throw in 23 Emiquon bass (8.5 hours), 41 from another public Knox County spot I call The Buffalo Pasture (7.75 hours) and 21 from the Virginia City Reservoir (3.25 hours) where I later discovered that I may have actually been trespassing and the numbers start to add up. Finally, I had a banner year at Snakeden with some help from a friend and there you have it, a record haul.
20 Year Yearly Bass Hours
Each outing winds up covering a time frame that breaks down to a quarter of an hour. So if I start casting at 6:25am, I’ll make sure I call it quits at ten, forty or fifty five minutes after the hour, just kind of a silly, superstitious sort of record keeping habit.
Notes: Got married in 2002 so that year and 2003 racked up a few extra hours as I likely spent more time at the fishing hole as opposed to the local watering hole, much safer that way. Had kids in 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2011 so no surprise that there were dips in time on the water, right thing to do. Switched jobs in 2014 and moved a bit further from my regular stomping grounds so no surprise there either, plus an uptick in kids’ activities as they keep on getting bigger. Had what I consider a solid amount of time on the water in 2016 and if I can swing a similar amount in the years to come that will be just fine, lots more to do than fish but looking forward to using some of these kids as an excuse once they get a little bigger and hopefully hooked.
20 Year Yearly Bass per Hour
Gotta do this one just for fun since I’ve got the data. Fortunately, I have some numbers spots that make the catch rates look pretty friendly most years. Not always the biggest in terms of quality but do manage to have a big one beat the little ones to the lure often enough to post a respectable Top 5 the last several years.
Notes: We all know stats can often be deceiving and 2014 would be a case in point. On the surface, a 4.45 bass/hour average sounds downright impressive. However, one pothole gave up 20 fish in a half hour but the largest only 14.5” and 14 less than 12”. Another spot produced 32 bass in 2.5 hours but only 6 over 12”. I actually ate a sandwich while reeling them in, take a bite, cast, chew, catch, unhook, measure, repeat. In contrast, however, good old Lake Storey gave me a whipping with only 5 bass in 12 hours (0.42 bass/hour) but also provided a pair of bonus muskies. Always more to the story than just the numbers but all part of the enjoyment for me on (and off) the water.
Well, I suppose I could go on and on with some more analysis on this batch of numbers but figure I’ve kept you from doing something productive for long enough. Besides, there’s always tomorrow. Hope you’ll tune in again and talk to you later. Troy