Every bass might have a tale

EVERY CATCH is clean, right?

Of course, everyone is above reproach. Never in the history of angling–make that bass angling–has there ever been a sniff of impropriety. All anglers can be trusted. All significant catches are certified. Go-Pro makes it so. PhotoShop confirms it.

So what are the two biggest, most recent stories in circulation this fall?

Isn’t one the sentencing of team partners for their catch scam in Alabama (click here)? And the other, the unfortunate, algae-driven die-off of the private, trophy fish factory–Lake Mission Viejo? (click here)

Sadly, we just never know, given the opportunity, what may enter into the hearts of men. Is there so much reward in a crummy little fishing derby that someone would actually cheat? Is there so much ego lift in standing on the podium, it doesn’t matter how you get there?

I don’t know. But when I hear the annual whisperingsĀ of catches made without supervision in SoCal, I understand the bass community is fearful. The particular knock on Mission Viejo is the neighbors peeking out their lakeview windows probably can’t discern swimbaits from swimming baits.

Having been privileged to spend time in the boat with Joe Everett and knowing how important the quest for a world record has been for him, I can’t imagine what a blow this MV fish die-off must be. Yet, he’s only one guy fishing maybe three months a year. He’s not the policia marina.

I live within maybe 75 miles of the most prominent big bass lakes in Southern California, but frankly, this newsbeat is not as much fun as it used to be. Emails, texts and private conversations continue to warn I shouldn’t be as worried about things elsewhere, say, some Chinese guy fishing live turtles for bait.

So, from a Neighborhood Watch perspective, maybe this fish-kill isn’t so bad. Maybe it will also kill the temptations and the rumors.

I can hope.






11 Responses to “Not everybody is crying about dead bass…”

To answer both of Kramer’s questions about rewards and ego, it’s a resounding YES on both. Yes, people will do these things for even modest payoffs. Between myself and George, we have covered more big bass, world record cheating fiascos than any two people on the planet and you know what? Having a world record bass in your lake is probably the worst thing that can happen to you as a casual angler or a self-proclaimed record hunter. It screws it up for everyone. The increased attention, fishing pressure and general bullroar that accompanies it somehow leads these waters to eventual destruction. To be sure, there’s more factors than just big bass involved and I’m not quite sure how it all comes to pass, but it does. A brief list of the doomed includes Lake Fork, Castaic, Casitas, San Diego City Lakes and now Mission Viejo. When I lived in Texas, I fished Amistad long before the rest of the world got wind of it. This lake, like Fork and some others, can trace the beginning of the end to the big bass mania followed by major televised tournament events that unearth many of the key locations (areas that took locals years to discover). And who is responsible? To me, it falls on the very same shoulders in all these stories – fishermen who just can’t keep their mouths shut for the same reasons Kramer wondered about – rewards and ego. I’ve never met Joe Everett and while he may be a great guy, I have no sympathy. The moral to this sad little tale is almost biblical in that it has been happening since there were big fish and fishermen to catch them.

Mission Viejo Lake falls into the same classification as Canyon Lake. Cool if you can get on and fun when it’s hot, but in the realm of Bass fishing means nothing. If Joe Bob can’t get on it has no pressure.

I agree with Rick, pressure is far from the only thing affecting lakes like Mission Viejo. I believe that when a lake gets top heavy with big fish, it is at its most fragile. Having dealt with fisheries biologists for many years, I would think that most prefer their lakes to have more 2-3 pounders. It would be interesting to hear some thoughts on this. With a lake at its peak, other factors seem to be more disastrous. It’s as if one thing compounds the next.

This story was much more than one guy, Joe Everett, or one lake Mission. It was truly about what can happen on our delicate fisheries if not watched closely and how a simple little organism can lead to disaster. I know Joe well and not one time has he ever poked any angler, recreational, big bass or tournament angler, in the nose for what they do. He just did his thing. Golden alga is a bad hombre and it seems like it is not selective. I feel bad for Joe, that lake and all of the water issues currently going on in Cali. I live thousands of miles from Cali but see many of the same issues facing my friends there becoming very real in the rest of the country. I personally live for dreamers like Joe what he tried to do on a small lake of 124 acres. If as an angler you are not sad when things like this happen no matter where you live it makes sense to get out of the sport. I respect George Kramer, Mike Jones and Rick Grover who have replied here and hope they use this awful deal to help from keeping it happen again. We know it will and I will be just as sad.

While I agree with you on the sad impact to this fishery (actually its second such demise, if I recall) you are just too far away to see the negative impact of private lake/pond angling claims that trouble the sport locally.

Whether here or there, the issues are similar….we have less lakes, more pressure per acre on those lakes and even though we don’t have studs like you with 15 pounders, most of our lakes are over-fished and a lot of folks never release anything. One day maybe we can all get along. Appreciate what you do George.

It is really sad to hear about what is going on! I fished the lake for 25 years and cannot even count how many trophies I caught there including an 18.2lb fish in 2007. The lake gets a bad rap as just a clear water sight fish lake but it was so much more!!! Some Guys do only fish the lake 3 months of the year sight fishing and I see the same fish in 10 magazines! I think they’ve got a long road ahead unless they want to start learning other lakes? I learned so much from all my years there and I have brought that to Colorado! I fish for giant smallmouth here on PUBLIC lakes now and I do it exactly how I fished for the deep water fish at MV! A lot of us get no respect for having fished at MV since it is a private lake, I never listened to them and never will……Just hot air!!! Since Ive moved to Colorado, ive won Rookie of the year (Denver Bassmasters) and Angler of the year (Denver Bassmasters)2013 and caught 2 Smallmouth within 10 ounces of the state record! All thanks to what I learned on Lake Mission Viejo! Im in a better place now with more fishing friends then I know what to do with! But I will never forget that lake and what it has given me!!!

Well said Shawn- I fished LMV for many years and never had close to the success you and a few others had, it’s not that easy. Sad to hear…

Yeah MV is not exactly Oso Reservoir or Vail!!! That’s some Bill dance private water right there! The truly great fisherman catch fish on all waters!! But id agree everyone thinks theyre a pro in March! Hope all is well with you Chris!!!

Of course, there’s the old saying: “are all fishermen liars or are all liars fishermen?”

In any event, anytime you have a concerted push to create an increasingly elite group pulling in an increasing proportion of money you will have scandal – the incentive simply increases.

Sorry to hear about LMV. Mother Nature can be pretty resilient and So Cal lakes do have their ups and downs – naturally occurring or otherwise.

I can’t believe some of the comments here. Sounds as if some are actually pleased to see lake MV’s demise. What, your butt hurts because you don’t have a pass to fish there? No opportunity for you to pull off a record setting catch?

I love what Shawn had to say above. Anyone who bad mouths Lake MV is just a hater. kick rocks because we don’t want you at our lake anyway.