You think you’re smarter than a bass?


G. Sam Piatt



The most likely spot right now for the early spring angler to see some action is at Greenbo Lake.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources on Feb. 26 stocked 5,500 rainbow trout and 2,000 brown trout into the 181-acre clear-water lake.

Best artificial lures are small inline spinners, such as the RoosterTail or Mepps. If you’re in a boat, cast and retrieve them about 20 feet off shore or troll them slowly. Fun can be had by trolling dry flies on an 8-foot flyrod, too. From the shore or boat cast with No. 6 longshank hook baited with cheese, wholegrain yellow corn, miniature marshmallows, orange trout bait from a jar or trout eggs, or redworms.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Fisheries reports the state will stock more than 100,000 rainbow trout in the state’s public lakes this spring. Adams Lake in Adams County and Pike Lake in Pike County will both be stocked April 8, Rocky Fork Lake April 6, Lake Vesuvius will receive trout April 18 and Jackson City Reservoir April 20. Turkey Creek Lake will be stocked with rainbows April 27 in conjunction with the annual Portsmouth Trout Derby.

OUTSMART A BASS? Today let’s deviate south to Knoxville to check on some anglers who decided to become professional bass fishermen. It’s a life involving three days of tournament competition and practicing up and honing your skills the other four days of the week. Extremely difficult job. If you’re good at it you can quickly become a millionaire.

An adult black bass, research tells us, has a brain about the size of a walnut. And his memory is worse than mine. Fifteen minutes after he’s tried to eat a chunk of plastic with eyes painted on it and found himself hooked – but somehow shook the lure and got loose from it – he will come right back 15 or 20 minutes later and hit the same lure again. And that leaves us stammering and stuttering when we try to explain how, on some days, the fish can seemingly outsmart some of the best bass fishermen on the planet.

We take as an example the case of Jordan Lee, a 27-year-old professional bass fisherman from Grant, Alabama. Last weekend he competed in the 2019 Bassmaster Classic, which pits the best of the best against each other – and the largemouth bass. Lee had a chance to rewrite the history of bass fishing. He had won the 2017 and 2018 Classics. No competitor had ever won three in a row. Lee was in that rare air that only two other bass pros, Rick Clunn and Kevin VanDam, have tasted. Each of them has won back-to-back Bassmaster Classic Championships during their careers.

The 2019 Bassmaster Classic, a three-day tournament, with a limit of five fish per day, was held March 15-17 at the Tennessee River on Fort Loudon and Tellico lakes. Lee cut his teeth fishing local bass tournaments as a teenager and won the 2014 Bassmaster College Series.

A glance at the leaderboard following Sunday’s final weigh-in showed … nay, not Lee, but Ott DeFoe the winner with 15 fish weighing 49 pounds, three ounces. Jacob Wheeler was second with 15 bass weighing 45- 5 and Jesse Wiggins was third with a total weigh-in of 43-14. Three other contestants for the three days weighed in better than 40 pounds of bass.

Lee’s name was nowhere to be found on the leaderboard. The two-time defending champion – shall we say “luck” abandoned him? – had but 13 pounds, 10 ounces, to his name through the first two days and didn’t make it to Sunday. But we could hardly call him a loser. In his short career he’s made it into the Classic five times and been paid around $2 million for his efforts. How does that stack up against my winnings? My best day came when I caught enough crappie to feed myself and five hungry fellow campers.

DeFoe, a Knoxville native, was firmly in the driver’s seat after the first day, as his five fish tipped the scales at 20 pounds. He only added 10 pounds, five ounces, Saturday, though, opening the door for Wheeler. “Dude, I was so mad yesterday,” DeFoe said Sunday in an interview with the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Travis Dorman. “I was so mad. After that first day, I was on top of the world. But God will humble you sometimes exactly when you need it.” DeFoe avoided a heartbreaking defeat, catching five fish Sunday that weighed a total of 18 pounds, 14 ounces. Wheeler, on the other hand, reeled in 12 pounds, 15 ounces. Four-time champion VanDam made it to the final day but was never much of a threat after a 10-pound, two-ounce catch Friday. He placed 20th (30 pounds, one ounce).

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G. Sam Piatt

Reach G. Sam Piatt at gsamwriter@twc.com or 606-932-3619.

Reach G. Sam Piatt at gsamwriter@twc.com or 606-932-3619.