Quantity over quality bass at Mosquito Lake

For the third consecutive year, Mosquito Lake played host to one of the five FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) tournaments for the Buckeye division. After the five tournaments are completed, the top 40 anglers in the points standings will qualify for the regional championship in October. This year’s tournament was held last Saturday, June 1.

There seems to be a plentiful amount of keeper bass in the lake as all but six of the 95 competitors (not including co-anglers) in Saturday’s tournament caught their limit of five fish. The lake proves to have sufficient quantity of bass; however, the lake seems to lack a sufficient number of quality bass.

This is a common trend for Mosquito Lake fishermen. Catching bass is not often the problem. The problem is catching big bass. However, this was not always the problem.

The size of fish caught in the BFL tournaments has dropped each of the last two years. In 2011, the winner of the tournament weighed in a five-fish limit of 16 pounds, 4 ounces. The first-place weight for the 2012 and 2013 tournaments was 11 pounds, 15 ounces and 10 pounds, 5 ounces, respectively. This decrease in weight is not seen only for the winning weight, but across the entire field.

The total weight of the top 10 finishers dropped from about 134 pounds in 2011 to 92 pounds this year. In the sport of fishing, where each fisherman weighs the same number of fish, 42 pounds is a huge number. The 10th place finisher in 2011 would have finished first last year and the 20th-place finisher in 2011 would have finished second this year. In terms of the BFL payout, this 10th-to-first jump would increase an anglers’ winnings by $5,197. The 20th-to-second jump would increase winnings by $787.

This same lack of quality fish is being experienced in the Thursday night fishing series held at Mosquito every other week. In last week’s tournament, almost all of the 20 competitors caught a limit, but not one broke eight pounds. Perusing results of other tournaments held at Mosquito in the past couple years, findings are much of the same.

It is difficult determining a specific cause for the decrease in bass size. Some look back to last year when the lake was lowered to support the parched Mississippi River. This is very plausible when thinking in terms of bass population.

The lowered water wouldn’t effect the growth and development of the bass, but would affect the ability for many fishermen to catch the fish. Much of the north end of the lake was dried up and almost every boat ramp was inaccessible. These factors mean fish weren’t being caught and weren’t being taken out of the lake.

The result is a large quantity of average sized fish consuming the food and resources needed to grow larger fish. Presumably, if the number of fish between 12 and 15 inches is reduced, more fish will be capable of meeting “Fish Ohio” standards of 21 inches.