They say you don’t remember second place, but as I look back on 2009, I can hardly remember first place.
I’m sure for many, outside of a few fish-snagging rumors and the occasional monster bass sighting (in this country) the year will be remembered for the impact of a poor economy. We all had a dose of that, some of us more than others.
Just looking at my mileage log, it’s pretty evident I didn’t pull as many miles as normal. One reason, fewer tournaments on the calendar, and also, especially this past spring, there was pretty good fishing at home on Lake Elsinore—for bass and wipers.
But then, Nature decided, things were going too smoothly on the natural lake and threw in a couple of fish-kills…one particularly hard on the hybrid stripers. There was one estimate that maybe 500 of the big 4 to 10 pounders succumbed.
Also playing the “bad economy card” was the Metropolitan Water District, which, though it has more money than the Arab League, got fishermen to foot the bill on an extended launch ramp at Diamond Valley Lake. I think they wanted to contribute to my personal bad economy.
If you don’t follow the tournament scene than you maybe won’t exult in the fact that Californians won both the Bassmasters Classic (Skeet Reese) and the U.S. Open (Gary Dobyns) but those were pretty big deals. Yet, it would also be safe to say that generally speaking, tournament attendance was down.
If there was a highlight in 2009, you’d probably have to say it was the fact that a bass weighing at least 22 ¼ pounds was caught and certified in Japan back in July. The fish, as I’m sure you’ve heard, was just a smidge heavier than the long-standing record held by George Perry.
Parts of the world have already made the determination that the Japanese fish, taken by Manabu Kurita while slow-trolling a live bluegill, is the new world standard. However, the International Game Fish Association had yet to make its call going into the final week of the year.
The Association has a lot weighing on its decision, not the least of which is its credibility and maybe even its relevance as they have pretty much hung their hat on the oldest record in the books. IGFA rules give the organization a partial out, since they establish new records of fish this size only if they exceed the existing mark by at least two ounces. But wow, in an the era of high technology, two ounces might as well be two pounds—this should be an easy call.
I contend that maybe IGFA held off its decision for the release of Bill Baab’s book on the life of Perry, the enigmatic record holder for more than 75 years. Research sometimes takes a long time when you can’t talk to witnesses. We learned more about the kid from Japan in a few months--and we don’t even speak the language.
Still, I sense far less interest in this catch than had it been made 20 years ago. What do you think? U.S. anglers are really that provincial?
But what the hey? That was last year.
Bass columnist George Kramer, who would like to wish everyone a happier New Year in 2010, can be reached by email at email@example.com.