BassParade: Science

Those Good Old Days of Yesteryear

We’re going way back in the archives here, but I came across a great article from an August 19, 1963 Sports Illustrated magazine over the weekend that sheds some insight into what biologists knew and believed concerning largemouth bass and angling for them back then.

A lot of the discussion in the article is pertinent to some of the stuff Jay has been posting recently concerning the Minnesota/Wisconsin culling laws and open season timing. The article interviews Dr. George W. Bennett, chief of the Aquatic Biology Section of the Illinois Natural History Survey in Urbana at the time. The article is 3 pages long and entitled “This Is The Fish You Can’t Catch Too Many Of”.

Some excerpts from the story follow.

  • Dr. Bennett rates the largemouth as the most intelligent of freshwater fish. “Smallmouths,” he says, “are not as smart.”
  • Educated bass are sometimes the reason why fishermen complain that a pond has been fished out. “A fished-out pond usually contains bass,” Dr. Bennett says. “Nine-tenths of the time the fishermen just can’t catch them.”
  • “Even though bass soon become wary of lures and baits, there are three, according to the statistics compiled at Ridge Lake, that are generally effective. These are, in order, a blue jig, a yellow popper and a nightcrawler on a harness.”
  • “Legal length? What’s the basis for legal length? So the bass can reach maturity and spawn. But what difference does it make, if one pair of bass is capable of repopulating a lake like this with its own spawn?”
  • “I think the closed season is the silliest law ever concocted,” he says. “We presume that by closing the season we’re going to have a lot of bass, and that isn’t true at all.”
  • “There’s only one reason for a creel limit on bass that I can think of, and that is because some fishermen are successful and others are not. Our studies show that 10% of the fishermen—and it’s consistently the same 10%—catch 80% of the bass, and the remaining 90% catch only 20%. A creel limit stops those 10% from making hogs of themselves.”



  1. Ronald J. Lindner

    June 13, 2011 at 9:22 am

    open seasons/closed seasons..have a very important place in fish management ..but they need to be selectively applied condemn no-culling or seasons or length limits as to be short sighted

  2. LarryB

    June 13, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Informative piece that should be sent to the Canadian agencies that have been apparently protecting”our” fish to death for years too.

    Thanx for bringing this to light again.

    Tight lines,


  3. admin (mostly Jay)

    June 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Interesting, Brian! I predict that in 10 years we’ll have to read 50 pages of regulations on how, when and where we can fish or hunt in a state. Luckily our iWhatevers will be able to do some intelligent searching for us.

  4. BryanT

    June 13, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Closed seasons are not important or else 45 other states would have them. I’ve lived in SC, TX, WI, and now IL. Only WI has a closed season. In that closed season in the southern section of the state, only a small portion of the spawn is protected in shallow darker water lakes. Other areas of the state the spawn happens after the season opens. If I can get good scientific non-subjective reasoning for closed seasons, I’ll listen. In reality though a lot of northern midwestern fisheries depts. are political institutions and not science based fisheries managers.

  5. Chad Keogh

    June 13, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    As the second excerpt points out, fishing pressure educates the majority of bass, but not necessarily the majority of anglers…

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Gitcha Bassin' Fix

The best, worst and funniest in bassin'! Jay Kumar is the guy who created, co-hosted Loudmouth Bass with Zona, was a B.A.S.S. senior writer and a whole lot more in bassin™. Make sure you sign up for the BassBlaster email!

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