I have never been much into weighing fish. Usually a quick measurement and picture are sufficient enough for me. Throughout the years there have been a handful of smallmouth bass I was always curious about that I never weighed. Several 20-21 inch fall smallies on Lake Geneva during the early days come to mind. A 21 inch prespawn smallie on Delavan around 2007. A few 21-22 inch mid summer smallies caught on the Waupaca Chain during annual vacations. Usually I don't have a scale or if I do it is habitually out of batteries. Just not a big priority for me. I was lucky enough to be in Adam Bs boat a few years ago when I caught a big largemouth on Delavan just under 7 lbs. Adam has a nice scale and unlike me, he actually changes the batteries when needed! Adam was with me this time around up in Door County for another special fish. The funny thing about the smallies up there is that I have seen a wide variety of weights for fish in that 20-21 inch class. It seems they stop growing as much length wise and just get higher backs and put on more bulk as they age. I have seen fish in that category go from 4.5 lbs to low 5's, so the length can definetly be deceiving to the overall weight. On this particular day Adam had just caught his pb at 4.65 lbs an hour or so earlier. We were dealing with some wicked storm systems going through the area and had already ran back to the launch once because of thunder storms. We decided to hit an area that is a shallow sand flat that leads to about a 5 foot weedline, then drops off about 4 feet into a shallow basin. Earlier in the morning we caught several fish doing this, but most were of the smaller variety. As we drifted down the structure, which stretches hundreds of yards, i made a cast with a tube a little farther into the sand flat then normal. Upon picking up the slack from the initial fall I felt some resistance and set the hook. I tend to set the hook on anything up there because sometimes the slightest tick in the line is a fish. Initially the fish took an angle toward the boat and I advised Adam I did not think it was a big fish. About 20 feet from the boat the fish tried to jump, but it was so girthy it just kind of wallowed on the top of the water. A few "oh shits" were exchanged and Adam got ready with the net. After a few runs near the boat the fish came headfirst at a good angle and Adam scooped her into the net. Adam summed it up best when he said look at the eyeballs, they are as big as a persons. Although this fish was still in that 21 inch range, it was obvious to us this was a different class fish then others we had previously caught.
So previously, my official pb weighed smallie was with HnG on Lake G many falls ago at 5.3 lbs. This girl came in a 6.15 lbs. I was initially confused thinking it was 6 lbs 15 ounces until Adam broke down how his scale weighs in decimals. We took a bunch of pictures and released her for another day. This is my 4th time up in DC to fish smallies, and honestly I was just trying to break 5 after catching so many upper 4 lb fish. Never even really considered a 6 in the middle of the summer, when typically the bass are not the heaviest in weight. With that said, I can probably close the door on my pb smallmouth. What a sweet fish it was, and hopefully it provides a future angler with as much pleasure as it brought me.
If I ever get around to posting a report from that DC trip it was epic. Awesome start the first few days with decent numbers and several bigs. A cold front shut down fishing for a day or so and it was tough. The last 2 days I went farther off shore looking for reefs and found 2 humps full of zebra mussel shells absolutely loaded with fish. 50 fish one day and 20 the next before heading back home, almost all in the 3-4+ lb category. Big winds, big waves, but definetly a world class fishing destination worth rolling the dice at.
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