Why do bass shake loose?

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Steve Bowman

It’s Thursday during our break. I was going to go fishing, but the weather is supposed to turn bad right after lunch so I thought I’d wait until tomorrow. Normally I don’t care about bad weather, but I’m taking my little boy with me so I thought it’d be best to wait. I’ll sort tackle instead.

That gives me time to think, and one of things I’ve been thinking about lately is why (or how) fish shake loose. I’ve had a few get off this year that really cost me.

The first one I’m going to mention was on the first day of the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’s Sporting Goods. She was a good one, maybe in the 6- to 8-pound range. It didn’t bother me too much at the time, but the next day was a different story. 

It was tough. I knew I needed weight. That’s a bad combination. So, instead of downsizing and trying to catch a respectable sack I had to power fish and hope for the best. Things didn’t work out. I finished 30th.

At Toledo Bend I did pretty much the same thing. I hooked one on a swim jig that was between 8 and 11 pounds. I saw her. She was so fat with eggs she couldn’t jump out of the water. She swam out in the middle of the bay and then the hook just fell out. She would have put me in the Top 12.

In all honesty, though, I had one at the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee that went the other way. I caught her flipping. She ran into a patch of reeds. I kept the pressure on and when I pulled her out of the mess she was just barely hooked in the corner of her mouth. She weighed about 6 pounds.

So I’m not saying it all goes one way. It doesn’t, and when you catch as many bass as I have over the years it’s inevitable that some of them are going to shake loose. The thing is, why?

The honest answer is, I don’t know. Actually, it’s worse than that. I can’t even make a guess that sounds reasonable or even slightly coherent.  

In some cases we can blame ourselves. I lost another good one at Table Rock by setting the hook too fast and not letting her get it in her mouth good. OK, I’ll live with that. It was my mistake. But with the other two I’ve mentioned I didn’t do anything wrong, at least not that I know about. They just came loose, pure and simple.

As I’m finishing this column I realize I haven’t told anyone anything that’ll help them catch more bass. For that I apologize, but this fish shaking off thing is really bugging me. I’ve been playing it over and over in my mind.

It’s not that I’m complaining. I’ve had a lot more stay on that should have got off than I’ve had go the other way. For that I’m thankful. It’s just that when you use sharp hooks, tie your knots carefully and use top equipment it shouldn’t happen — so why does it?