Old bass reappears for 10th FFCBC

A 22-year-old bass made a special appearance this year in honour of the 10th anniversary of the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
This particular fish was caught and tagged by the Ministry of Natural Resources during the first FFCBC when it was 12-years-old, and wasn’t by them seen again over the last nine years until this past weekend.
The MNR measured and weighed the bass at the tourney, and biologist Darryl McLeod said that the growth was pretty accurate in terms of their growth charts.
“The numbers are bang-on with what we would have predicted them to be,” said McLeod.
As fish get older, they tend to grow in weight, but after they reach a certain age, they don’t grow much in length.
When it was first caught in 1995 at 12-years-old, its length was 46 centimetres. This year, it was measured at 49 cm.
Now, at 22-years-old, this bass is only just shy of the oldest one tagged so far. The average life expectancy of the average small-mouth bass is about 25 years.
“The oldest bass we’ve tagged in this event since ’95 has been 23-years-old,” noted McLeod.
Not only was that bass the oldest to be tagged at the FFCBC, but it is also the oldest bass to be tagged in all of Northwestern Ontario, and was actually the winner of the Big Fish award a few years ago in the tournament. Only six fish that have been tagged since 1999 were re-caught this year.
McLeod and his team took samples of all the fish, specifically one dorsal spine and a few scales that tell the MNR how old the fish are.
It is too early at this point to say whether or not there are other factors involved (such as tournament impacts or less of an abundance of cray fish, for example) that might indicate a trend as opposed to an isolated incident of lower bass weights in this year’s tournament.
For now though, McLeod attributes the lower weight to the long, cold spring here and the delayed spawning period.