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Andre Schaum of Park Rapids landed this hefty largemouth bass while fishing for crappies with a tube jig. Shallow, warm water areas should produce some big bass this weekend, the opening of the 2013 bass season. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

Anglers ready to greet big bass

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By Jason Durham / For the Enterprise

Today marks the beginning of the 2013 Minnesota bass season. For anglers interested in catching largemouth and smallmouth bass, the conditions are conducive for landing one of the largest fish of their lives.

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With the late fall, both largemouth and smallmouth bass have yet to spawn. The females are plump with eggs and are at the heaviest weight of the year. Keep in mind that releasing those big females is very important to the production of future fish.

Yet it’s not only the females that are important in the spawning process. Male bass guard and defend the eggs and nest against predators that would prefer to ingest the eggs or fish fry once they hatch.

With water temperatures below average for this time of year, the bass are most likely to be in the warmer, shallow water areas, even less than a foot deep in some cases.

Dark bottomed bays with sprouting lily pads and fallen trees are a good place to begin your search for early season largemouth. But locating smallmouth bass on opening weekend isn’t quite as simple.

Since smallmouth bass are weeks away from forming their nests to spawn, they should be actively feeding. However, their reactions to variations in the weather can sometimes leave smallmouth bass anglers puzzled.

Smallmouth bass generally gravitate toward areas with a rock, gravel or sand bottom. They can go from inhabiting a shallow sandy flat to residing in deep areas quite quickly. When weather patterns are unstable in the early portion of the season, smallmouth bass can rapidly change from active to negative in feeding attitude.

As the water warms and smallmouth bass become more active, anglers have a shot at a true trophy.

This was the case last weekend at the Sturgeon Bay Open bass tournament, held on the Wisconsin side of lake Michigan. The largest smallmouth bass for the 2-day event weighed in at a whopping 8.45 lbs. caught by Tim Schneider.

To put that into perspective, the Minnesota state record smallmouth bass is 8-pounds and was caught on West Battle Lake in 1948.

The world record smallmouth came from Dale Hollow Lake on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky in 1955. Angler David Hayes caught the 11-pound, 15-ounce fish on a Bomber crankbait and had no idea the fish was of record caliber. The fish was 27” long and had a girth of 21 2/3”.

The owner of Cedar Hill Resort on Dale Hollow suspected that the fish was a record and submitted the entry to Field & Stream magazine, which managed world record fish at that time.

The record stood until 1996, when an affidavit was discovered from a dock-hand at the resort, stating that the true weight of the fish was only 8-15, since he had personally stuffed the fish with 3-pounds of metal.

David Hayes was stripped of his world-record holder status. But after further investigation and after nearly a decade passed, it was discovered that the disgruntled dock worker’s words were simply a lie and David Hayes’ fish was reinstated as the current world record.

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