Kelly and I are trying to be the first to complete the task with a fly rod. I actually only recently discovered the "Bass Slam" challenge when I picked up a copy of Bassmaster magazine at the grocery store, but I had basically come up with the concept on my own... thanks to a truck stop T-shirt.
A couple of years ago I bought a really cheap T-shirt at a truck stop somewhere along I-55 in Mississippi because I thought it was a bit funny... at least from the perspective of a fly fishing naturalist. The shirt reads "Bass of North America" and depicts the Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted, Shoal, Redeye, and Guadalupe Basses. What was funny to me was that this truck stop souvenir also had Mississippi printed across the bottom, and three of the six fish are not found in Mississippi. Additionally, Smallmouths can only realistically be caught "in Mississippi" from the waters of Pickwick Lake which forms the northeastern boundary of the state.
At some point while Kelly and I were out fishing and I was wearing this horrendous garment, I got the idea to try and catch all of the species on the shirt and photograph them while wearing it. The official "Bass Slam" challenge also includes the Suwanee Bass and splits the Largemouth and Spotted each into two distinct subspecies, so it definitely adds a bit more fun to the adventure.
Wearing "the shirt" with a Redeye Bass:
|The "Bass of North America Mississippi" T-shirt|
(I know... I know... I should have been fishing with a 5 wt... please ignore the overkill 7 wt. I really had no idea what I was getting into fishing for Redeyes for the first time.)
The Redeye Bass seemed to give the first round of "Bass Slam" anglers the toughest time. This is probably because chunking a big spinnerbait at a fish that has been called the "Brook Trout of warmwater game fish" isn't the best approach. The fly rod on the other hand...
Initially the length requirement for the Redeye was 12", but it was cut back to 8" after no one could land a foot long "lunker." Most of the Redeyes submitted by the first round of Bass Slammers were barely the required length. Kelly and I have caught "monster" fish of around 10" in Alabama... catching qualifying Redeyes shouldn't be an issue for us.
To get to the point of this post, Kelly once again showed me up with her fishing prowess. We managed to squeeze in a day of kayaking and fishing for Spotted Bass last week during our Thanksgiving visit to south Mississippi. We floated down the Bowie River near Hattiesburg, and Kelly landed a very nice qualifying fish of 14.5" (the minimum for the Spotted is 12"). I caught a few fish... the biggest was around 10"... why does she keep making me look like such an amateur?
|Kelly's "Bass Slam" 14.5" Spotted Bass, November 23, 2010|
Anyway, I was very proud of her. We are well on our way... I just need to get with the program.
For any of you overzealous bass fly fishers, please don't steal our thunder and try to beat us at our own little quest. To my knowledge no one has accomplished this feat with a fly rod (at least if they have they didn't submit their application to Bassmaster), and we would like to be the first to do so.
After all, Bassmaster stole the idea from me and my shirt. I just want a little bit of my originality back.