"BIG BASS BONANZA" Part II
Is California The Only Place To Go For The Record?
Nearly everyone has a dream--but among the 13-million-plus anglers in the United States, a good percentage of them share the same one: to hang THE World Record largemouth (replica cast, of course) on their den wall. Last month I started this article with an idea of finishing it like I was the one going after THE big one. THE big one will be caught and certified sometime probably very soon. The lucky angler (for the person will have to possess an extraordinary amount of sheer, unadulterated luck and probably some skill, too) will be acclaimed worldwide as the world's top angler. It's fishing's biggest prize, worth millions of dollars if you play your cards right.
I remember one person's story about catching THE big one that he 'et'...Junior Samples' unassuming humor propelled him to regular appearances on the television show HEE HAW. Similarly, although stardom is a possibility, the person who really does haul in that prize will be an instant millionaire...just how big a millionaire depends upon his marketing skills, but estimates range from $1mil to $10mil. Geez. Only a few sports celebrities, rock stars and movie stars could equal that for one event.
Conditions have to be right in any body of water—there has to be ample resources for the fish to live long, grow big, and hide. The bass is an object-oriented fish and newer impoundments with plenty of good cover and forage provide the bass with those conditions for growth. Past their prime, older lakes still produce, but the prime conditions are gone.
Like you, I had heard of the giants produced in California lakes, particularly from Lake Castaic. Rumors that lake being dead are debunked by Bob Crupi, who says the lake is not dead and is capable of producing THE big one. He should know, he has a 22 pound one ounce fish from Castaic. Stocking the lakes with trout provides the caloric intake a bass needs in these lakes. Actually I would think it is caloric glut—Dennis Lee, a California Fish and Game biologist, says that “bass gorge on them.” He asserts that trout plantings are the reason the huge bass are produced.
But is California the only place to go for THE big one? What about storied Lake Fork, or Cooper in Texas? For that matter, how about other lakes in the southern U.S? A total of 14 states have introduced the fast-growing Florida bass (Micropterus salmoides floridanus) into their impoundments, and some are actually pursuing THE record with programs statewide.
Texas began stocking Florida bass into Texas lakes in 1972. The state record, which had been set 37 years before, was broken six times since. The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is apparently doing something right, but even with their Operation World Record effort, there are problems with mother nature to overcome. Allen Forshage, director of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, says, “We are trying to develop a fish that is unique to Texas. We are using Florida bass as the starting block, but we hope to ultimately change the genetic makeup of the fish enough to give it a new name…our goal is to produce a largemouth bass that will exceed the current world record weight.” Things take time, of course, and time is running out. THE record is in sight in California. It’s probably already produced that 24.1 ounce monster I talked about in the last issue.
Is it possible that there’s a George W. Perry out there, casting from a homemade boat in some obscure lake in the deep south, to reel in THE next big one?
Sure. Me? I think I’ll head South in February. After all, I buy lottery tickets, too. I figure my chances are about the same.
Jim Pankey, USN (Ret.)