I’ve often wondered the age of some of the big bass that I catch here in Ohio. I always assumed that the larger they were, the older they were. I think generally that is the case, but after reading a very fascinating article about growth rates and ages of bass, I have a little different perspective on the issue.
Yesterday Bassmaster published an article on their website by Robert Montgomery entitled “Big, old bass”. The article discussed how scientists have been able to determine the age of bass by examining their otoliths (ear bones). Two contrasting examples of the age-size relationship were given in the article. In the first example, scientists in Florida determined that a largemouth weighing 10 lbs was only 4 years old. In the second example, a 6.78 lb largemouth caught in New York in 1992 was determined to have been 23 years old, the oldest bass on record. So big does not necessarily mean old. I encourage you to read the article in its entirety.
My biggest take away from the article is that fish living in warmer climates grow faster and to larger sizes, and that age does not determine size. Rather, there are many factors that come into play when it comes to size, including location, water quality, forage, habitat and genetics. Unfortunately for Ohio, most of those factors would indicate that although our bass may grow to be old, they will never grow to enormous sizes relative to bass from the southern states. Even the oldest bass in our state, say 15-18 years old, will likely never crack the 10 lb mark.
But I think there is a glimmer of hope for catching a 10 lber in Ohio. That’s because one of the factors listed above is a true “wild card”. Genetics. Because all bass are unique, there will always be those freaks of nature swimming in our waters that defy the norm. Fish that grow at an abnormal rate and achieve astonishing weights despite all other factors in their environment.
It is the search for those behemoths that keep me coming back, time and time again. And the best time of year to catch one of those freaks is quickly approaching!