Sunday afternoon I was updating our church’s web site as I do at the start of every week when I heard my phone beep to alert me to a new text message.
“Are u at home? Have some bass…thought u might come with a garbage can & carry them home…we can keep fishing.” It was our friend Jerry Denton, a retired fishing pond specialist who had been threatening to do this for a few months. He and his grandson Blaine were fishing at the pond of a friend and had caught several young bass. He sent me the geographic coordinates of his location about 15 minutes away, and I headed out. In my haste I misread his text and thought he wanted me to bring garbage bags instead of a garbage can. Luckily I also threw in a couple of 5-gallon buckets.
When I arrived, Jerry and Blaine helped me load up eight bass in bags and the two buckets, and I headed back to the pond with my treasures.
After I had released the eight bass in the pond, I called Jerry to report progress, and he told me he and Blaine had caught three more. So I headed back for the next load. By the time I arrived they had caught a fourth. No more bags; we put the four young bass in the two buckets; I returned quickly to the farm and immediately released them in the pond.
So now we have released an even dozen bass in the pond. Jerry showed me how to recognize whether they are male or female, but I didn’t get a chance to look at all of them. What we can say with confidence is that at least three are female and at least two are male. We will hold off fishing for bass until this summer after these new guys have had a chance to spawn.
Bass are important in a pond like ours because they’re such aggressive foragers. Our hope is that these 12 bass will spawn and make lots of little bass babies who will set about eating their fill of our too-rich supply of bream and gambusia. This should improve the health of the little guys and make the bass bigger and stronger at the same time. Our fondest dream would be a stable ecosystem where bass, catfish. bream, and gambusia all thrive, with our doing most of our fishing for bass and catfish and occasionally for bream. We’re frankly not sure, however, what the bass will do to the channel catfish that we released last spring. Our friend Rodney Griffith believes the bass will crowd the catfish out; we’ll let you know.