To Swing & Loose by Bruce Callis




Lake Dardanelle on the Arkansas River has crowned a winner, dashed the hopes of many and claimed one boat during the 2014 Bassmaster Elite tournament. It also left many questioning their decisions on where to fish, what to fish, did I stay too long or did I leave too early from the spot that would have won them the tournament or at least put them in the money. The same questions we ask ourselves at times. But let’s talk about something I really never have understood.
Why, when you have the best of everything, do you swing bass into the boat? It almost cost Jason Christie the tournament. And not retying his jig at the same time. It would have been the bonehead move of the tournament if he had lost. But swinging a 7 pound bass, who does that? I don’t do it on 65 pound braided line with a freshly tied lure and a solid hook set. Why do the Pros do it? Does it look good for TV? Sorry, I think it looks like you are too lazy to show the proper way to land a bass to everyone watching. I’ve seen so many people acting like the Pros and swinging their bass into the boat, lines and rods snapping not because they are bad, but because we are abusing them.
If I am trying to teach the next generation to fish, I want them to do it right. If you are going to practice CPR (Catch, Picture, Release), you must do all you can to ensure the fish is not harmed. But you swing a bass and it is slammed down on the deck, is that proper? We show the kids to lip the bass and lift it proper, and not to put undue pressure on the fish’s jaw. What about that swing, what pressure does it put on the bass? I’m guilty at times, but it is when it is impossible to lip them from the bank, but I am reaching down to minimize the time it happens.
Yes, Jason admits to his mistake, even going so far as to say he didn’t think it was that big a fish. What size does it have to be to show some proper fishing skills? What size do we tell the kids is okay to slam down onto the bank or the deck of a boat? Anything less than 3 pounds we should swing wildly and anything bigger, lip them? Swing and risk losing the fish because the hook wasn’t firmly set in the prime sweet spot of the mouth? Or it looked like it was, but it was just a skin hookset inside the mouth? What do we teach the kids?

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