You've seen them on television; read about them in a magazine or on the internet, bass, with both the largemouth and the smallmouth bass having a great following.
In the upper Midwest, there are several bass that anglers pursue, where you have a great opportunity at receiving an award for a large fish or having an opportunity to set a state record.
There are several state awards for bass in South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and other upper Midwestern states.
In South Dakota, the Game & Parks has the Proud Angler Program and if you catch a Largemouth over five pounds or catch and release one over twenty inches, or a Smallmouth over three pounds or catch and release one over eighteen inches you qualify for this award.
The South Dakota State record Largemouth weighed in at nine pounds five ounces and was caught in Indian Scout Lake.
Its state record Smallmouth came from Horse Shoe Lake, one of the Glacial Lakes in the northeastern part of the state, and weighed seven pounds three ounces.
In the Cornhusker state, they have a Master Angler Program, where anglers who catch a Largemouth over five pounds or twenty inches for Catch & Release qualify to receive this award.
The state records in Nebraska for Largemouth bass is a ten-pound eleven ounce taken from a Sandpit, with the state record Smallmouth coming from the Missouri River, a seven-pound four-ounce fish
In Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources has their Master Angler Program, where an angler catching a Largemouth weighing five pounds seven ounces or one caught and released that’s twenty-one inches long can qualify for their award.
The Smallmouth Master Angler has to be five pounds fifteen ounces or larger or at least twenty-one inches in order to receive that award.
Their state record Largemouth is an eight-pound fifteen-ounce fish taken from Auburn Lake, while the Smallmouth record was caught in West Battle Lake and weighed eight pounds.
When I first moved to northeast Nebraska, I’d never taken a largemouth bass and the only places I knew of to fish were the smaller ponds in the area.
After getting permission to fish these small waters, I set out to figure out how to catch a largemouth bass, it was quite an experience for me as, I’d came from the Glacial Lakes of northeastern South Dakota, walleye country and never caught a largemouth.
In order to go after them, I needed to gather information on the fish, to understand their life cycles, habitat and spawning,
So, I headed for the library, looking for any information on bass fishing available and reading all the outdoor publications with stories and ideas as to how to catch the fish.
I spent numerous hours and through persistence and a lot of time fishing the shoreline of these waters, I started catching a few bass.
Through trial and error, I learned, a lot by losing bass, that they’re fighters, spending, more time in the weeds than in open water, requiring heavier tackle than I used up north.
Bass were my main pursuit and I spent numerous hours around these smaller lakes, trying to understand them.
In these ponds and the shallower smaller bodies of water I fished, weeded up very quickly, so I needed to come up with a method, where I could work my baits on top of and through the heavy weed cover,
with spinner and buzz baits working very well for me as well as jigs with plastic trailers.
Then, I obtained my first boat, a well-used wooden boat that gained weight every time I put it in the pond, but to me, I was living large and on my way.
Later I came upon on a used aluminum boat with a smaller motor, where I made out the check, and made a mad dash back to my banker, fortunately for me he was an outdoor person and after he asked what type of boat I was looking at, I let him know, it was right outside his window.
He just shook his head and gave me a goofy look, and the boat was mine, now the only thing I needed to do was get it past the wife.
This boat allowed me to get on the river and fish for bass in the backwaters of the Missouri River around Springfield, South Dakota.
Bass fishing advanced quickly, with new tackle, rods, reels and baits, with new methods that I needed to test and learn, so I kept at it.
I got hooked on bass fishing, joined the Bass Angler Sportsman’s Society, “BASS” became a member of the Yankton Bass Landers club and started fishing their tournaments on smaller lakes in southeastern South Dakota, on the Missouri River, as well as in the southern states where, I had a great time, bringing home a few checks and trophies.
When Smallmouth were stocked in South Dakota water, their population grew, with good numbers of these bronze back fighters becoming a main target for bass fisherman in the river.
Once my boat and motor were sponsored my good friend and great angler Jeff Rausch, from Norfolk fished the state tournaments qualifiers on the Missouri River, qualifying for a couple of the state tournaments.
We did quite well, and on one tournament I qualified for, another of our bass club members qualified as a non-boater for the tournament and since he had fished with me in some of the local tournaments, was a good angler and good in a boat, I loaned him my boat, where he and two other non-boaters could fish out of my boat and did very well.
I guess, I would say that, I love bass fishing, but, I’m one of those anglers that if the bass have lockjaw, and won’t pay attention to my baits, I’ll head to a different spot and fish for what ever is biting, yet if I have an opportunity to tangle with a Smallmouth or its cousin the Largemouth, I’ll be there, testing my skills against these hard hitting, deep diving fish.
Bass fishing, has always had a huge following in the southern states, and the Midwest, was quick to learn how exciting fishing for them can be and once you’ve battled with either of these fish, I’ll bet you’ll be hooked.
Gary Howey, Hartington, Nebraska is an award-winning writer, producer, broadcaster, former tournament angler, fishing and hunting guide and in 2017 inducted into the "National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame”.
He developed and was the Producer-Host for 23 years of his award winning gary Howey’s Outdoorsmen Adventures television series. He’s the Host of the award-winning Outdoor Adventures radio program carried on Classic Hits 106.3, ESPN Sports Radio 1570 in Southeastern South Dakota, KWYR Country 93 AM and Magic 93 FM in Central South Dakota, As well as on KCHE 92.1 FM in Northwest Iowa. If you’re looking for more outdoor information, check out www.GaryHowey'soutdoors.com , and www.outdoorsmenadventures.com, with more information on these Facebook pages, Gary Howey, Gary E Howey, Outdoor Adventure Radio, Outdoorsmen Productions and Team Outdoorsmen Productions. The Outdoor Adventures television show is available on numerous Independent markets, and the MIDCO Sports Network.