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Observations from Home

The Elite Series Tournament at Guntersville was really an unbelievable event. The catch rate was beyond anyone’s expectations.  I had a great practice and first day, but my bite declined and I moved down the list more each day.  I did fish Saturday, looking for new spots and schools of bass. I found a couple of new schools too, but unfortunately, they were all of the 2-pound variety.

G’ville seems to have an outstanding future as a bass fishery too. There were plenty of all year classes of bass in evidence all week. That is a testimony to the value of submerged vegetation and water flow with good nutrient levels in creating a quality bass population. I think the prevalent catch and release ethic has played a role as well. 

There are several benefits to catch and release beyond the obvious ones of allowing the fish to grow and reproduce.  Recent research has shown that bass populations are made up of three types of fish.  One group, the one we like most, is pretty susceptible to lure fishing. They bite our lures and don’t learn from it.  The second group seems to bite a lure occasionally, but only once in their lifetime. In other words, they become un-catchable after being caught one time.  The third portion of the population seems impervious to lure fishing.  They never succumb to the temptation we offer with our lures. These three portions of the population are about equally represented in the wild.

By catching and releasing the “catchable” portion of the population and NOT killing them, we allow them to pass their genes on to their offspring. If we kill every bass that bites our lures, we accelerate the natural selection process, thereby favoring reproduction by bass that do not strike artificial lures. I am convinced that this is the reason that the Florida strain of bass has proven to be more difficult to catch than their northern cousins. Florida bass have been exposed to more long term, year round fishing pressure than northern fish, so their populations have trended toward less susceptible individuals.

We have been home from Guntersville about a week now and it has been a good time.  We came home to a lawn that was so tall that I had to look out for turkey nests and deer fawns as I mowed.  That’s the risk/reward of living in the middle of Tarbone Ranch.  I think the fawns are hitting the ground right now and we will see a few before we leave in a couple more weeks. It’s a grand time to be home with everything green and fresh.

Being home has also had a down side.  I have had an ongoing knee pain problem for several years and have been in a pain management situation for a couple of years now hoping to extend my ability as long as possible.  I had an MRI examination of my right knee last week with hopes of having arthroscopic surgery to relieve some of the discomfort before proceeding into the remainder of the season.

The news was not good.  When the radiologist told me he was surprised to see me walking without crutches, I had a little letdown, to say the least.  I am waiting on a second opinion, but it looks like the only relief I will get will be from a complete knee replacement, or two. Obviously, this will have to wait until the end of the Elite season.  Until then, I will just have to grin and bear it.  I think the hundred thousand mile warranty on my knees has expired.

The rest of the bad news is related to the difficulty of having good health insurance.  Being self-employed all these years has been a tremendous advantage in many ways, but the availability of affordable health insurance is not one of them. It looks like next year I will be investing in the medical industry more than bass tournament entry fees, but I am not ready for full time occupancy of the recliner.

On the up side, bass are biting here too.  It took me a few days to get caught up and ready, but I’ve been to my favorite local lake a couple times now and my thumbs are a little sore again.  I can’t seem to sleep past daylight anyway what with the turkeys gobbling their fool heads off about 200 yards from my bedroom window. It’s tough to be home.

 I’m already looking forward to Kentucky Lake, so I have been packing my Rapala DT’s, Picasso Fantasy Football jigs and Berkley 10” Power Worms for that trip. It could actually be as good as Guntersville.

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