Thursday, March 10, 2016

Rules are rules: potential world record bass denied

I haven't posted anything in a really long time here... but the great thing about a blog like this is everything is pretty much the same as when I left it. Hopefully I'll be making more frequent contributions here, and hopefully some of my followers are still out there.

Most of the content I have shared on my blog is entirely original. In order for me to share somebody else's video, it has to be pretty special. I felt like this video qualifies. It's currently trending on YouTube. I saw it last week when it was only a couple of days old. Now it has been seen by more than 125,000 viewers.

If you like seeing big bass, then this should be enough to make you drool. Take a few minutes to enjoy seeing a truly special fish.



The video brings up a couple of really interesting points.
  1. If you want to catch a world record fish and submit it to IGFA, you better follow the rules. In this case weighing the fish in a boat on the water (and not on dry land) cost the angler a world record.
  2. The fish in question is not a Spotted Bass (Micropterus punctulatus). The fish is an Alabama Bass (M. henshalli)- formerly Alabama Spotted Bass (M. p. henshalli). For details on current taxonomy see the following paper: "The Alabama Bass, Micropterus henshalli (Teleostei: Centrarchidae), from the Mobile River basin."
I seriously doubt you will see point #2 discussed anywhere else, but it's of great interest to me as a biologist and an Alabama fisherman. The "Spotted Bass" swimming in most of the state's waters, except the Tennessee River drainages, aren't just any old Spotted Bass anymore. They were long considered to be a unique subspecies of Spotted Bass, but as is often the story with the classification and taxonomy of living organisms, things have changed. In this case, the Alabama variety of Spotted Bass has been elevated to full species status.

So... you may be wondering how I know (or at least why I believe) the fish in the video is an Alabama Bass.

Well... it is pretty well known that the reservoirs of California that are well known for their "Spotted Bass" fishing were originally stocked with fish from Alabama. As a matter of fact, if you do a little research, you will find out that the first "Spotted Bass" stocked in California's Perris Lake originated from Lewis Smith Lake- "Fishing Through Life" Bill's home water. I should also add that the two species of bass just don't even really look alike... but that's just my opinion. Anyone who has caught true Northern Spotted Bass should be able to see that the giant from California just doesn't look like the fish they've caught. The differences which actually distinguish the two species are obviously a bit more technical than just general appearances... but to me it's obvious.

I seriously doubt anything will change with IGFA anytime soon, but based on the current state of taxonomy, there should now be two separate world records for Northern Spotted Bass (M. punctulatus) and Alabama Bass (M. henshalli). Considering that the current world record for "Spotted Bass" is from a California reservoir it is highly likely to actually be an Alabama Bass. Who knows what the largest true Northern Spotted that was ever caught might have been? It's essentially a record that has been lost... one that for now doesn't even exist. I don't expect the fishing community at large or the IGFA to immediately pick up on new taxonomy when it is first introduced, but to me it makes fishing just a bit more interesting. One of my favorite things about fishing is catching as many different species as possible. Adding another unique species to the lifelist of species I've caught is good stuff.

If you have any questions or want to debate taxonomy or whatever, please leave a comment below. I'm looking forward to reconnecting with my readers.

8 comments:

  1. Jay
    Great video---a fish of a lifetime for sure---I can't imagine landing a fish this size on the fly. Thanks for sharing

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    1. Based on the history I've learned, that fish is a descendant of the Smith Lake "Spots" right in your backyard, so landing a fish like that might be more possible than you think. Let me know when you get the boat ready, and we'll get after some. ;)

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  2. Nice post. I'm from San Diego and I was wondering if that bass was from a nearby lake. Never knew a lot of the bass stocked near SD were originally from Alabama.

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    1. Kevin,
      I didn't pay close enough attention to the video to know exactly which lake it was from. I'm not sure they ever said specifically... I just know it was from California reservoir. Thanks for reading.

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  3. I just stopped by to let you know we're glad you're still alive and kicking.

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    1. Thanks, Howard. Still alive and kicking and fly fishing!

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  4. I hope this means that you are coming back to blogging. I missed your naturalist posts and keeping up with what you guys are doing.

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    1. I'm trying to make a comeback. Stay tuned!

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