Tournament anglers often mention needing five (a daily limit) of “the right ones.” No doubt, that’s a sound objective for competitors this week. But that standard applies to more than fish size.
You also need the right species.
Oneida’s fertile waters hold smallmouth bass, as well as largemouth bass. While the former typically dominates, the latter definitely has the potential to impact a final leaderboard.
The only thing anglers do not want is the ever-present and always hungry “bottom mouth bass” — freshwater drum. The nickname refers to the drum’s downward angled mouth.
The big ugly puts up a spirited battle, but since they’re not a tournament species, catching a drum largely amounts to wasted time.
The only upside is that drum often favor similar habitat and forage as the black bass species on which the Basspro.com Bassmaster Northern Open is based. Catching a couple drum tends to validate the chosen area’s productivity, but there’s also a downside.
While largemouth and smallmouth can be a picky lot, drum seem to operate on the see-it-eat-it plan.
New York pro Casey Smith reported catching a lot of “bottom mouth bass” during practice. Suffice it to say that he and all competitors hope to avoid big ugly and find more of the right ones.