Be careful with the big bass

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By Shelton Young

 I heard a very disturbing story the other day. When talking to a potential member of our Puddle Jumpers I mentioned we’d be fishing Spurlington Lake.

The guy asked if there were any big bass left in the lake. I told him I saw an 8 to 10 pounder in the shallows last year, but didn’t catch it! Also told him one of our Puddle Jumper anglers, Michael Veatch, caught a monster out of there last year.

He told me about a 10-plus pounder he weighed for a guy earlier this year, but don’t count on catching “that” bass. Seems like the young man who caught it actually broke its jaw holding it by his lip. Then he proceeded to “show off” his bass till it died!

Now don’t get me wrong. When I say I wish he’d been more careful with the bass and returned it to the water, he had a right to his bass!

I don’t begrudge him his bass. Even keeping it to mount would have been reluctantly acceptable. But breaking his jaw! Everyone knows, well, apparently not everyone knows, you handle a truly humongous bass differently than an “average size” fish. 

A belly lift supports the weight while holding the lip merely stabilizes the fish with the belly lift.

Ideally you take measurements and pictures, and then release the bass to hopefully be caught again, when it’s bigger!

All this measuring and picture taking is done quickly, very quickly, so you don’t kill the bass!

But it’s a monster! I’ve never caught one that big! I want it, bad!!!

All right, you want to remember your bass, well, you want to “show off” your bass. As an angler you’ll always remember catching your bass. You’ll remember your rod/reel, bait, location, time of day, etc., so you want your bass for the “wow” factor.

Anyway, instead of a “skin mount” that necessitates killing your bass, how about just getting a fiberglass replica made? These replicas are made listing the pictures and measurements you take. The replicas’ actually look as good, and hold up forever, as opposed to a skin mount that will eventually “age.” So do everyone a favor, don’t kill the big bass.

But I like eating fish, you say! Don’t ask me to believe that you’ll starve if you don’t eat the big bass. Why not eat those “barely legal” bass instead?

Do you have the right to keep “any” legal bass? Yes. Do you have the right to eat a legal bass, no matter how big? Yes, you do! Do you have the right to remove and kill an obviously genetically superior specimen that can no longer pass along those superior genes? Regretfully you do!

O.K., end of rant!


Anything going on, except fishing? Well, the season never closes on groundhogs or coyotes.

I’ve had a little, very little, luck on groundhogs.

Unlike in the 1960s when every field had groundhogs, often right out in the middle of the field, that’s the way they were when I went into the military. Hogs were simply “everywhere.”

When I came back to Kentucky, in 1978, there didn’t seem to be “any” groundhogs. What happened? I don’t know, but they were gone! Some say the coyotes’ got’em?

Fast forward from the “old days” to “today.” Groundhogs are on the rebound, much to the disdain of the farmers, but they are much fewer in number. They also tend to dig their dens under buildings and in heavy growth fence rows.

Maybe the groundhogs have “evolved” and dig their dens where the coyotes have a harder time getting to them!

At any rate, I’ve shot a few around an old barn where I can sit on a hill, OK, in the shade, and shoot down on the hogs.

As for coyotes, yes, you can hunt them in the summer! They smell bad, really bad! They are eaten up with ticks and, in a lot of cases, mange! Their fur is beyond useless and they have all the food they need. Plus, you can no longer hunt with lights at night!

The upside is that this year’s pups are still stupid!

Hunt real early or late and I won’t bother with bringing one home! 

P.S. I haven’t had a problem with what to do with a coyote I’ve shot. That sounds better than “I ain’t got nothin’ yet!”


Our local Puddle Jumpers fished Spurlington Lake on Sunday. As I understand it, this is another state-owned, managed and maintained park. As such, it’s a nice lake. It’s the “getting to it part” and “parking” I want to complain about! Now I realize there’s very little anyone can do about the parking. But it seems they just plain forgot about getting up to the lake. Deep gullies and washouts make the access road the worst I’ve ever seen. The only part of the road that was decent, without gullies, was at the top of the dam. Given the grade and angle of approach, even that was bad.

While it wasn’t the best day of fishing we’ve had, Mike Smith did manage a limit. He did this after a late start. Ya see, he knocked a small hole in his boat while coming up the access road. Did I mention how bad it was?

Anyway, Mike got his three bass limit for a weight of 4.01-pounds. He also had the day’s big bass of 1.19-pounds.

Newcomer to the Puddle Jumpers and a member of Taylor Co. High’s fishing team, Ezra Oliver took second with his single bass of 1.11-pounds.

Third went to Chris Mattingly with one bass weighing .15-ounce.

Nobody else caught anything. I was one of the nobodies!


Our next Puddle Jumper tournament will be held on Laurel County’s McDougal Lake. This Saturday’s July 19 tournament will be the first tournament on this 87-acre city owned impoundment.

Launch will be at 6 a.m. for this six-hour tournament.


Our next Mid-KY Bass tournament will be coming up Sunday, June 29, launching out of Green Rivers’ Lone Valley Ramp. We’ll launch at 6 a.m. for this eight-hour tournament.


That’s it for now! Get out, enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer, stay safe and I’ll see ya next week!