Sunday, June 21, 2020

Landing a Hugh Spotted Bass

I never landed a Spotted Bass until Cathey and I moved to Jasper Alabama. I had caught a bunch of Largemouth Bass in Mississippi, with a few Smallmouth sprinkled in. I thought both species were respectable fighters until I encountered my first Spotted Bass on Smith Lake using my fly rod. Landing a couple pound or better Spotted Bass using a 4/5 weight fly rod is a challenge for the angler especially if you rush landing the fish. Smith Lake is loaded with Spotted Bass, in fact, the state record is an 8 pound 15 ounce caught in 1978. The record still stands today. 
First Spotted Bass Tuesday morning fishing a Barr Nunn popper. The popper was supposed to attract a big bull bluegill, but this bass got to the popper first. I was using my 4 weight Redington fly rod. All my fishing trips on Smith involve the 3, 4, 5, or 6 weight fly rods. I am interchanging fly rods all morning sometimes when certain color poppers are not producing. The best time to land fish using the popper on Smith is at daylight and any shaded areas on the rock walls before 10AM. After the sun hits the walls the bite is over. All my trips usually last about 4 hours. 
  The spawn is over for this moon cycle causing the big gills to move to the rock walls until the next spawning cycle. These bluegills in the cooler prove to be a worthy opponent on the 3 or 4 weight. I usually leave the lake with 8 or 10 bluegills that are fillet and baked in the oven. 
These big bluegills inhale the popper like a vacuum cleaner. Most poppers are in no condition to use after three or four of these fish hit it. Getting the popper out of their mouth even with forceps can be a challenge. 
Every once in a while I get a hit from a nice bass and Tuesday morning was one of those mornings.  I got a chance to test my skill landing a 3 pound 14 ounce female Spotted Bass in excellent condition. She nailed a Barr Nunn Aqua color popper intended again for a big bluegill. The hit had me thinking I had hooked a bluegill but after the first surge stripping drag into deep water, I 
knew better. The fight to bring this fish to the net took close to 5 minutes. I'm glad I had one of my fishing buddies with me to net the fish. I used side pressure left and right to try to tire the fish but she kept stripping drag on every run in the deep drop off from the down timbers near the bank. 
 The long fight was attributed to the fact I was using my 4 weight. I truly believe if I had not got the fish on the reel as quick I did I would still be wondering how large it was. This was the largest Spotted Bass I've ever landed using the fly rod. What made it so special for me was landing it on a lightweight fly rod.  


Mark Kautz said...

So much fun catching big fish on light tackle.

Justin said...

Bill, I never knew bluegill were edible! Do they taste good? I guess the closest I have tried is perch, in a restaurant in Zurich, and that was good.

Brk Trt said...

Hey Bill there's some big ones.
Looks like early morning is productive for you.

Feather Chucker said...

Nice fish. I'm not sure I could tell I caught a spotted bass. They look just like largemouth to me. How hard are those gills to clean?

Bill Trussell said...

Catching a fish like this is special; I may never land another Spot this big. They are hard to come by on Smith. Thanks for the comment

Bill Trussell said...

Bluegill is special not only for their fight but their table fare as well. Fried or baked they are delicious. To make them really special add coleslaw, fries and a cold beer. Thanks for the comment

Bill Trussell said...

The daylight hours are the turn-on for the bass and bluegill on Smith. Thanks for the comment

Bill Trussell said...

The Spotted Bass has a mouth smaller than the largemouth. It looks similar to the Smallmouth. This fish is a bass on steroids and much more powerful than the largemouth. In other words they don't know when to quit fighting.
I did a video sometime back on how to fillet the bluegill---follow the link below

David Knapp said...

That is an amazing fish! Congrats!!!

Bill Trussell said...

One should never say never but I don't think I will ever land a Spotted Bass that big again. I was lucky and thankful I got to touch her. Thanks for the comment