Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass can be found across the United States.

TNS PHOTO

The sunfish family is comprised of quite a few different species, including bluegills and their relatives, as well as the basses. There are several bass species, too, but the most popular bass sportfish around here is the largemouth bass. There have been multitudes of articles and information written about the largemouth bass, and I won’t even attempt to try to come up with anything new. Instead, I thought it would be interesting to test your knowledge of the bass, and see how much you might know about these fun aquatic creatures.

Here are a few trivia questions, with the answers below. See how many you can get right.

1. Where is the 2018 Bassmaster Classic being held?

2. Bass have a sixth sense. True or false?

3. Which is larger, a male or female bass?

4. The largemouth bass is the state fish of several states. Which state does not belong on the list? A. Georgia, B. Mississippi, C. Louisiana

5. How big is the world-record largemouth bass, and where was it caught?

6. Which does not belong on this list of bass? A. Largemouth, B. Spotted, C. Pinstriped, D. Smallmouth

7. Do bass live longer in the North or South?

8. Bass don’t have the greatest of eyesight. Which color do bass see the best?

9. Bass are native to Australia. True or false?

10. How long do bass normally live? A. 5 years, B. 10 years, C. 20 years, D. Up to 50 years

OK. How did you do? Hopefully you didn’t cheat and look at the answers! Here we go.

1. The 48th annual 2018 Bassmaster Classic will be held once again in Greenville, South Carolina, at Lake Hartwell.

2. True. Besides having the sense of smell, sight, hearing, feel and taste, bass have a lateral line that helps them to feel vibrations in the water. This helps them to locate forage fish and they can also sense predators approaching. Lures that vibrate and spin in the water help bass to fix in on what they consider food, and will often strike a lure simply as a natural reaction.

3. Female. Female bass of the same age will be larger in size and weight compared to a male bass. In addition, female bass that are full of eggs will be heavier and have much larger bellies.

4. D. Louisiana does not have the largemouth bass as its state fish. In addition to Georgia and Mississippi, Indiana also has the largemouth bass for a state fish. Other states, such as Florida, have the bass recognized, but they also have numerous state fish. They have freshwater and saltwater, sportfish and non-sportfish, as well as other categories of fish.

5. 22 pounds, 4 ounces. The world title is shared by two people. George W. Perry held the world record for 77 years after catching his world-record bass on June 2, 1932, on Montgomery Lake in Georgia. The record was tied by Manabu Kurith in Japan after he caught his big lunker in Lake Biwa on July 2, 2009. It was recognized by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) as a tie to the world-record fish, and agreed to allow the title to be shared. According to IGFA rules, the record must be beaten by a fish weighing at least 2 ounces more than the current record.

6. Pinstriped? There are no pinstriped bass, unless it’s one that just ran through the paint booth of a local body shop.

7. North. Bass live longer in the northern waters. They grow faster and bigger in southern waters where they are able to eat well year-round, but they will live longer in the cooler regions.

8. Red. Bass eyesight is not the best, in comparison to the eyesight of some other fish. One color that really stands out to them is red. In some lakes, bass will bite best on lures that have some red on them. This does not always hold true, but experiment with it some.

9. True. There are native largemouth bass in Australia, on the east coast, primarily in Victoria.

10. B. The average life span of largemouth bass is about 10-12 years. As mentioned above, bass live longer in the north. Eight to 10 years is about the limit in the South, while bass may live up to 16 years in northern waters.

Well, how did you fare? If you got eight or more of these questions answered correctly, you might be part fish and you better make sure that you’re not growing a tail. If you got five to seven answers right, you know your way around the pond. If you got three to five answers right, well, you’re probably just normal. If you got fewer than three right, you better brush up on your bass knowledge before heading to the lake with a pole. Good luck!

Taxidermy Tip of the Week

How do we mount fish? No, we don’t stuff them. It’s not like we stick a hose into the back side and blow it full of stuffing. No, we don’t pull out every scale and glue it back onto a mold. No, we don’t mess with the guts. I hate guts just as much as the next guy. So, how do we do it?

A fish is skinned just like any other bird or mammal. The scales are attached to the skin the same way that hair and feathers are. Yes, they can fall out and they can come loose with too much manipulation of the skin, but here is where the expertise comes in. An expert taxidermist will skin out a fish with minimum scale loss and be able to put the skin over an artificial body.

Most expert taxidermists with a lot of experience will carve their own artificial body out of foam. After years of study of the natural poses and anatomy of fish, a taxidermist will learn what makes an anatomically correct fish body and prefer to carve their own foam body instead of relying on something “close” from the catalog. Foam bodies can be purchased, but there are only so many sizes and shapes and poses available. After taking careful measurements and drawing a pattern, a good taxidermist can carve a body for a fish that will fit perfectly, and be in whatever pose he/she chooses.

After the skin has been properly cleaned and preserved, it is glued onto the form, fins are carded in the proper positions, and the fish is set aside to dry. After completely drying, the whole fish will need to be painted. The color that we see on fish is in the skin, underneath the scales, and when the fish is dried out the color fades away.

Shrunken areas are filled in with epoxy fillers, any fins or scales that have damage are repaired, and a sealer is applied to the fish. Then the painting process starts. Layer after layer of base colors, metallics, marking colors, pearls and bright colors specific to the species are applied to the fish. The best paint jobs will require a fair amount of time and numerous layers. The fish is then given a gloss to give it a wet look, then fastened to a base.

The next time you think a taxidermist is too high-priced, remember how much work he/she has to go through to preserve your trophy. As the saying goes: Cheap isn’t good, and good isn’t cheap. A good, experienced taxidermist will take care of all the little details that may go mostly unnoticed, but all work together to make a very pleasing mount.

Daryl Keyes is owner of Pheasant Hollow Taxidermy. His columns on the outdoors are featured regularly in The Telegram.

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