Bass keep getting bigger

The average weight of the 497 bass caught over the three days of this year’s Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship jumped by nearly a quarter of a pound compared to the 1997 tournament, the area biologist for the local Ministry of Natural Resources office reported Tuesday.
Darryl McLeod said the average weight was 2.74 pounds this year, up from 2.50 last July, 2.10 in 1996, and 2.11 in the tournament’s inaugural (1995).
McLeod said a number of factors contributed to the bigger size but pointed to the strong “class of 1987” bass that continue to grow as they age as being most prevalent.
“The fish are starting to shift to the right side where they are getting bigger and older,” he said yesterday.
The fact anglers are getting to know Rainy Lake better also helped increase the average size, he added.
Other factors include a change in forage base (specifically the presence of smelt in the lake) and a reduced bass harvest since 1994. That many bass anglers are adhering to a catch-and-release philosophy also has played a significant role.
McLeod noted the tournament had 15 recaptures this year and just eight mortalities, down significantly from the 35 dead fish recorded last year.
He noted the water temperature of the river ranged from 17.5-19.5 C this year compared to 22-24 C last July, which helped decrease fish mortality.
McLeod also said the volunteers from the Fort Frances Sportsmen’s Club did a “great” job handling the fish.