Exhibiting potential as a future Bass Angler of the Year, Chad Hagar of Saranac Lake smiles while admiring a fine largemouth he had just landed.
Although the recent weather patterns have been decidedly summer-like, the actual summer season did not officially begin until Wednesday, June 20th. It seems like we have been enjoying summer since March!
However, for many eager anglers the true summer actually arrived just a few days ago, with the Opening Day of bass season on Saturday, June 16th.
Bass fishing, like apple pie and the Fourth of July, has become an American tradition. Bass are one of the most widely distributed of all freshwater game fish species, and they are to be found almost anywhere there is water and a forage base.
In fact, Andy Griffith and Opie opened the popular television program Mayberry RFD, while toting an impressive stringer of bass back from the fishing hole. Bass, Bubba, and beer, these are American traditions.
Alaska is the only state in the union without a bass population, which is too bad because bass can actually be fished through the ice. Hawaii received the state’s first bass when they arrived by boat, likely while being transported for introduction into Japan in 1925. That was the year Akabishi Tetsuma, a Japanese businessman shipped over seven-dozen largemouth bass from California’s Ashino Lake for introduction to the island nation.
Although American servicemen that were stationed in Japan after the war enjoyed the opportunity to fish for bass, the non-native fish is still considered an invasive species. Many Japanese anglers would prefer to see it eliminated.
It is an unfortunate perspective, since it was a Japanese largemouth bass that captured the current world record largemouth, when a 22-pound, 5-ounce largemouth was taken from Lake Biwa on July 2, 2009.
The monster largemouth fell for a live bluegill on a reservoir near Tokyo that was offered up by Japanese angler, Manabu Kurita. His catch topped the historic world record by only one ounce.
George Perry had established the bass World Record on Georgia's Montgomery Lake way back in June 2, 1932. It was, and still is one of angling’s oldest remaining world records.
There’s still a lot of controversy surrounding the issue. Even though the Japanese largemouth tipped the scales at 22 pounds, 5 ounces, which topped the current bass record by a full ounce, the International Game Fish Association requires potential record fish to outweigh the old record by at least 2 ounces. The IGFA, which certifies game fish records worldwide, ruled the record a tie, and now, both fish jointly hold the World Record.
When Manabu Kurita was awarded the World Record for Largemouth Bass in 2009, it constituted the second time in five years that a Japanese angler had intruded on a blue blooded, American tradition.
The first occasion happened in Plattsburgh, NY, when Japan finally topped the United States at it’s own game. Short of knocking off the New York Yankees in the World Series, there had never been such an upset in modern day sports.
The initial incident occurred on June 24, 2004, when Shinichi Fukae of Osaka, Japan, the reigning Japan Bass Angler of the Year, made professional bass fishing history by fending off his closest American challenger to win the coveted Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year title. Fukae’s win marked the first time in the 36-year history of professional bass fishing, that someone earned angler of the year titles in two countries, and it occurred on Lake Champlain of all places.
Is it any wonder that Gary Yamamoto manufactures Senko’s, which have rapidly become the most popular, and likely the most productive softbait ever? Maybe the US should never have allowed either baseball, or bass to be taken out of the country.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.