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Ohio River Smallmouth Too Cool To Eat

Updated on July 26, 2016
This 17-inch Ohio River smallmouth bass put up an absolute brawl in strong current.
This 17-inch Ohio River smallmouth bass put up an absolute brawl in strong current.
This 1/2-ounce Mango Revolution spinner not only lured the above smallmouth but also several nice hybrid striped bass.
This 1/2-ounce Mango Revolution spinner not only lured the above smallmouth but also several nice hybrid striped bass.

Big Smallmouth, Big Fun

by Robb Hoff


April 9, 2013

I had never eaten a smallmouth bass until today, and if all goes well, I'll never eat another. Not that the smallmouth is bad to eat. Quite to the contrary, the meat is tender and tasty.

No, the reason I've never eaten one before now is that I have too much respect for this spirited warrior of the fast-moving murk. Nothing fights quite as hard or as frantic as a smallmouth with spectacular leaps that mesmerize.

I only ate the smallmouth pictured because one of the hooks of the lure I was using had punctured the rake and bled the fish faster than the still-cold current could clot it. After trying to revive the fish in the water for a good ten minutes, I finally put it on a stringer and left it in the cold water for another fifteen before deciding I would take the fish and eat it rather than release it and let something else eat it.

The 17-inch smallmouth was clearly full of eggs and on a pre-spawn binge, so I felt even worse that the first and hopefully last smallmouth I ever ate carried two big sacs of roe that could've produced perhaps a hundred full-grown Ohio River smallmouth

Despite the remorse, the fact that this smallmouth (and the several others that I did release) continue to thrive in the Ohio River is very encouraging. I caught the smallmouth mixed with Kentucky spotted bass and about a dozen hybrid striped bass in the two-pound range on the Fire Tiger Rooster Tail with which I had success a couple days before this morning of fishing.

When I finally snagged and lost the lure, I about packed it up because I wasn't sure anything else I had with me would work.

But I had a lure in the a tray that I caught some nice-sized smallmouth last Fall -- the Mango Revolution spinner.

Sure enough, the hybrid hit the lure, as did the smallmouth including the big one pictured here. As much as I do like these lures for their hard plastic bodies and steady spin in current, I have to say I'm disappointed in how hard they are to come by.

I tried to order some of these and the Mango LongShot lures that are equally as effective for larger hybrid striped bass, only to find that apparently the company is unable to supply these lures directly from U.S. outlets.

Lures may come and go, even really good ones that for whatever reason can't reach the end of the line, but it's good to know that another day of fishing always gives rise to the hope that there will be something at the end of the line that surprises with how well it does work and just how vibrant and spectacular the fish of the Ohio River can be.

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