NICE FISH, Justin...

I know the answer to this one already…but is it me or is it true that nobody really cares about smallmouth bass?

Except for that little flurry of studly, hybrid-looking bronze fish out of Lake Pardee (where despite genetics the smallies look like spots and the spotted bass look like largemouth) the California record story of 9.83 pounds is already covered in dust.

The world record smallie isn’t faring any better. In fact, other than maybe it’s size–11 pounds, 15 ounces–who can tell me the record-holder’s name, the lake or do they even know what the heck a 300 Bomber might be?

The smallmouth standard was caught 23 years after the George Perry world record largemouth, but today we’re barely conscious of the details. That 1955 smallmouth was 27 inches long! But nobody cares.

I think a great case in point is Justin Kerr’s recent Colorado River region record of 5.63 pounds from Havasu. Of course, it’s a nice fish. And yes, it’s the official record there. And sure, we all want to get over there this winter and catch our own 5-pounders. But that’s where it ends.

Anybody who ever stopped in at the bass fishing hub of Lake Havasu, John Galbraith’s Anglers Pro Shop, knows Kerr’s fish is not the biggest smallie seen in those parts. It’s just the one for which they took the time to fill out the  paperwork. I talked to one Havasu regular who claims a dozen smallmouth from 6 to 7 pounds. But not just “claims;” they are backed by video.

Add to that a pretty reliable account of a next-to-the-net fish that would have cracked the 8 to 9-pound barrier and you know Havasu will soon top the Great Lakes for smallmouth bass production. Yet rather than take the trouble, Havasu anglers would prefer their exploits stay “escondido” and probably wouldn’t have shared their catch with either Galbraith or the Department of Wildlife, anyway.

It’s sort of like sport of boxing–back when it mattered in the U.S. There was the coveted heavyweight title, and then there were a bunch of smaller guys busting lips. Smallmouth are basically like those lighter weight classes–lots of frenetic action. But nobody really cares.




5 Responses to “Smallmouth bass: nobody really cares”

How big would a small mouth have to be before it should be considered for a wall mount?

Anything bigger than 4lbs is a slab and worth mounting!

11-lbs.,15-oz., caught at Dale Hollow Lake in Kentucky, July 1955, by David Hayes.

I think we care more about smallies than you give us credit for. I know here in my state, Oregon, where people have a passion for salmon, steelhead and sturgeon, I reckon most anglers on the water can tell you about PacNW smallmouth fishing. Most can tell you, at least pretty close, what the state smallmouth record weighed (8lbs 2oz) and where it was caught (Hagg Lake, producer of the previous state record). I doubt many could tell you that the national record smallmouth was bigger than our state record LMB. They can tell you the Columbia and Willamette Rivers running through and around Portland are home to some great smallmouth fishing. Some will also share secrets of 100+ fish days on the John Day or Umpqua Rivers. Or of mountain lakes so full of 5-6lb fish that the State wish people would keep everything they catch.
Washington State has it even better with a state record of 8lbs 12oz, a record that’s been on the books since the mid-60s. Eastern Washington has slab trophy smallies all over the the place, begging to be found, and the West side is no slouch either.
I’d say we care more about smallmouth fishing than you know.

by George Kramer

I’m sure we can attribute that to regional bias, Isaac. We just like bigger here. Frankly, the only smallmouth to get any attention in my coverage of fishing over the last 30 plus years was any 3-pounder than jumped and threw the hook in the U.S. Open. Thanks for checking in!