Short’s most helpful bass

An unhooked fish that jumps into a competitor’s boat does not count in a Bassmaster tournament. But it was a practice day anyway when a Lake Okeechobee bass tried to donate itself to Bassmaster Elite Series pro Kevin Short.

Wednesday, March 21, the final practice day for the Power-Pole Slam, Short was at the bow flipping into a mat when he heard the distinctive splash of a bass jumping, then a thump. He turned to the sound and saw a bass on the starboard corner deck of his boat.

“I ran and got the camera,” Short said. He put the photo up on his Facebook page.

What happened, he decided, was that when the stern of his boat swung gently up against the tall Okeechobee rush vegetation, the bump startled the bass and it jumped to escape what it perceived as incoming danger.

“That told me that they were a whole lot shallower in the water column than I thought they were,” he said. “He was holding tight up against the mat.”

The strangely acquired clue helped Short make a slight adjustment. He brought in 17-5 on the tournament’s first day, including the largest bass of the day, a 7-13. Unfortunately, the next day wasn’t the same, and Short fell out in the first cut, ending in 54th place.