Every year I seem to focus on something a little different in my fishing. I never know what it will be until I get attached to an idea, but there is usually always something to track. Several years it has been all about numbers of bass, but then last year was about numbers and variety, every fish I caught. Other years I've never tracked, preferring to just fish for fun. One thing I haven't really done yet, largely because I'd much rather catch a lot of bass than just a few bigger bass, is to focus on trying to target "big" bass. Seems kind of ironic given the name of the site.
Back in December 2006, I examined tournament reports from six states, which consisted of 18,000 tournaments and four million angling-hours of competition, and concluded that the average time that it took the anglers in these tournaments to catch a five-pound bass was 495.5 hours. That data was assembled just a few years after the largemouth bass virus had affected many of the southern tourney waters (primarily 1998-2002). I later looked at more recent data (2008-2010) for these same states, and the fisheries had rebounded somewhat. It still took on average 148, 189, and 288 hours to catch a five-pound bass in Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi, respectively. Additionally, data showed it took about 106 hours to catch a bass over 20-inch (4.5 pounds) in Kansas, and 211 hours to catch a bass over four pounds in Tennessee.
That four pound mark is somewhat cemented in my mind as the dividing line between what is a "big" bass and what isn't. In his book, "In Pursuit of Giant Bass", the late Bill Murphy stated, “When bass reach a size of about 4 pounds, they normally undergo a change in personality – they begin to lose the habits of smaller bass and take on the characteristics of adults.” Bill went on to state that any time you caught a bass that was 4 pounds or better, the bass and the bait/color he hit meant something.
So I've decided that this is the year I focus on primarily trying to catch these 'above average' bass. I plan on only posting photos and details of the bass I catch that exceed the four pound mark. Not "eye-balled" fours, either. Everything gets confirmed on either of the two calibrated scales I keep in the boat. Who knows, that might make for a pretty boring site as far as my fishing reports go :) but I'd like to think that as much as I fish, I would have a few things figured out by now, or at least some theories or approaches to try. I guess we'll see.
And, just to get things started off on the right foot in 2016, here are the first fish to begin the quest. The following fish went 4-02, 6-02 and 6-04 and were caught on a trip this past Friday. The smaller of the three was caught on a jig, the larger two were caught on jerkbaits.