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Gary Howey

” IN 2017

The Smallmouth Bass By gary Howey

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

May 5, 2023

Author with one of many smallmouth bass, he’s taken while fishing on the Missouri River. (Photo By Larry Myhre)

    It was mid-July, found us on Lake Sharpe below Pierre, South Dakota where our crew was filming one of my Outdoorsmen Adventures shows with Hutch’s Guide Service.

  As Hutch hovered the boat over the submerged sandbar, our locators lit up like a Christmas tree, sensing additional weight on my line, I immediately set the hook hard, thinking I had a big walleye, then it happened, I was in for the battle, the fish that attacked my jig dove deep, causing my drag to squeal as it peeled line from my reel.

   I was gaining a foot of line each time, I raised my rod, reeled quickly as the fish came up, then losing two feet as it dove again, just about the time I thought the fish was ready for the net, a huge bronze colored smallmouth bass did its airborne acrobatics, coming out of the water several times, as it attempted to shake my bait.

  When it finally tired out, as it came close to the boat, Team Outdoorsmen Productions member, Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA.  slid the net under the fish with the first of many smallmouth bass I’ve caught since that trip on Lake Sharpe.

   Many anglers refer to the smallmouth bass as the Bulldog of the Deep”, because of the smallmouth’s fighting ability.

   in 1972, the first Missouri River smallmouth’s bass were introduced to the Fort Randall tailwaters, followed by a stocking on Lake Sharpe in 1980, Lake Oahe in 1983, and Francis Case in 1985.

  Since the initial stockings, the smallmouth population of the Missouri River has exploded, and 

 Just how good is the smallmouth fishing on the Missouri, the average smallmouth on the Missouri River runs fourteen to sixteen inches, with an occasional eighteen- inch fish?

  The population on the four Missouri River reservoir are so good, that the Bass Angler Association of America “BASS” held one of their huge tournaments there a few years back.

  As mentioned earlier, Smallmouth bass are tremendous fighters, when hooked, they’ll go deep, as your reel drag squeals, begging for mercy, ripping line from your reel, and when you think you have it under control, goes airborne, coming out of the water.                      

   Their name, smallmouth, was given to the fish because of its mouth is smaller than that of its cousin, the largemouth bass, whose lower jaw doesn’t extend past the eyes, where a smallies jaws is usually in line with it as its lower jaw.

  The largest smallmouth, an eleven-pound fifteen-ounce brute was taken from Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee, while in our neck of the woods, the state record in Iowa was caught from West Okoboji Lake and weighed in at seven pounds and twelve ounces.

  In Nebraska, its state record smallmouth bass, is a seven-pound four-ounce fish came out of the Missouri River while the Minnesota state record stands at eight pounds even and was caught in West Battle Lake. 

  Like other bass, the male smallmouth moves into shallow water, were using his tail, excavates a small depression, two to three feet in diameter creating the nest in preparation of the spawn.





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