Volume XVII, Issue 18 # April 30 - May 6, 2009

The world record was caught on June 2, 1932. It weighed 22 pounds four ounces. It hit a Creek Chub Fintail Minnow and after being measured, weighed and photographed was cleaned and eaten for dinner.

The People’s Fish

Who’s most popular of all?

What is the most popular gamefish in Maryland?

Many Marylanders would declare the rockfish the most popular.

What are the favorite methods of catching it? Trolling, jigging, chumming, live lining, bait fishing and plug casting would be the primary candidates for favorite angling styles.

Wrong on every count.

For more than 75 years, the ghost of George W. Perry’s world-record largemouth bass has haunted its detractors.

The largemouth bass is pursued by more anglers in the Free State than any other species. Favorite styles of angling for this gamefish are cranking, flipping, pitching, waking, (plastic) worming, wacky worming, drop-shotting, frogging and finesse fishing, among several others.

Surprised? You really shouldn’t be. Largemouth bass fishing is the most popular angling sport in America, perhaps the world.

The number of our state’s anglers pursuing this freshwater gamefish continues to increase season after season. The largemouth is challenging, exciting and available almost year-round virtually everywhere there is fresh water.

You don’t need a $50,000 boat (though some choose that option) or expensive and fancy tackle to pursue this fish. A stout spinning rod and a few basic artificial lures will give a fisherman or fisherwoman almost as much opportunity on any given day as the most sophisticated angler. Boats can be as basic as a simple canoe, rowboat or even an inner tube. Fishing from the shoreline of our public lakes and impoundments can be just as effective as in open water.

Who’s This Bass?

The largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides — also known as bucket mouth, big mouth, black bass and green bass — is a member of the sunfish family and widely distributed throughout the United States and Mexico.

The world record largemouth was caught on June 2, 1932, by 20-year-old George Perry in Telfair County, Georgia. It weighed 22 pounds four ounces. It hit a Creek Chub Fintail Minnow and after being measured, weighed and photographed was cleaned and eaten for dinner.

Inside the Sport

Since then, bass fishing has become so popular in the U.S., and such a recreational industry has built up around the pastime, that a fisher who broke Perry’s record today would become an instant multi-millionaire in endorsements alone. If you google George Perry, you will get more than six million hits. More extraordinary, with hundreds of thousands more fishermen and millions of person days on the water since June of 1932, no one has managed to break his record.

But it hasn’t stopped people from trying. Tournament bass fishing has also become an incredibly popular competition throughout America. The top professional anglers earn over a million dollars a year in prizes.

Historically, most cash-fishing competitions have promoted only fish waste, poor sportsmanship and downright fraud, but Tournament Bass Fishing has had the opposite effect. All competitions are no-kill; in fact, an angler loses points for fish fatalities. Additionally in the last 20 years, a total catch-and-release ethic has spread widely among freshwater anglers, a change many predicted would never come.

Though in the Tidewater nothing will replace the rockfish as our most beloved species, it may be wise to take note of what goes on in the rest of the angling world. There is much to be learned from our freshwater brethren and their relationship and obsession with the largemouth bass.

Fish Are Biting

Rockfish trophy season is developing traditionally. The incredible pre-season bite disappeared at opening day. A nice number of good fish are being brought to dockside, but the predicted rich haul of giants has evaporated yet once again. Do you think they know? The area around the Bay Bridge, south to Bloody Point and north to Love Point seem to be producing better than more southern sectors.

Our white perch run this spring has been conspicuously absent, at least for recreational anglers. This is the second season in a row with a poor showing of these fish during the spawn. I fear we may be witnessing the beginning of problems for yet another species.

Government In Action

Despite encompassing six major rivers, more shorefront than any other county, more boats than any other county and more fishermen, Anne Arundel County still provides no public boat ramp facilities. The county does, however, operate two massive golf courses, a show dairy farm, at least one horseback riding facility and two public Olympic-sized swimming pools amidst a host of other recreational services. Unless anglers and boaters own waterfront property, live in a water-privileged community or are able to afford expensive private slip fees or launch fees, they have virtually no county access to our rivers or Chesapeake Bay.

One or two extremely modest ramp efforts are in the early and very slow planning stages, but the situation remains pathetic. Letters to county executive John Leopold anyone?

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