Yellow Bass numbers decline But the party ain’t over yet!

(Above) Clear Lake is famed for its yellow bass fishing. The species’ recreational potential was touted on the cover of the Iowa Conservationist Magazine in 1996. – Photo by Lowell Washburn.

by Lowell Washburn

Tying on a 1/16th ounce jig head, I made a short cast toward the waist deep, submerged vegetation.  As soon as the jig hit bottom, I began twitching the lure across the sandy bottom.  On the third cast, my retrieve was suddenly interrupted by a solid tug.  I set the hook.  The contest began.

The fish felt solid, and for the first minute or so, it held its ground; sternly refusing my invitation to move toward the surface.  By the time another minute ticked by, the fish’s resistance had begun to ebb.  The contest ended as I obtained a firm grip on what turned out to be a plump 16-inch walleye – a quick and rewarding kickoff to the day’s outing.

The fun was just beginning.  Cautiously proceeding, I continued working the cover’s edge.  A few casts later, my line was still dropping when I felt a powerful jolt at the end of the rod.  There was no need to set the hook.  The fish had already taken care of that detail when it crashed the jig.

In sharp contrast to the walleye already in hand, this shallow water brawler had no intention of hugging the bottom.  Instead, it angled up and away, leaving the vicinity in a zig-zagging path of explosive energy.  When I attempted to stall the retreat, the ultra-light rod tip bent double as additional line zipped from the reel.  Feeling the pressure but still exhibiting no apparent desire to surrender, the fish changed direction and made another turbo charged bid for freedom; this time coming straight back at me.  Crossing inches to my left, the line left a watery rooster tail as the fish rocketed past.  Although I had yet to catch a glimpse of my scaly opponent, there was no doubt as to its identity.  There is only one species that moves with such erratic speed and agility.  The famed yellow bass was the only possibility.   

Following its fourth run, the scaly scrapper finally began to tire.  When it passed again, I was at last able to detect the striped and silvery flash that is the distinctive trademark of a fighting yellow bass.  Measuring 10 and

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