Bassphemy: the act of eating a perfectly good bass instead of releasing it.
Ok… OK… so I made that word up, but the sad fact is many see eating bass as a disrespect to the sport. Seems as if the game has changed a lot since June of 1932 when George Perry fed his family of six for two nights with his world-record largemouth bass.
Before we dive off into this hot topic, I want to make clear that I am in favor of releasing bass to swim another day… but I’m also guilty of turning a few loose into a cast iron pot of 350-degree peanut oil from time to time. It is what it is, the truth is the truth. Regardless of how we feel about the subject of catch and release, we have to respect the opinion of others, and we have to find a way to get along as sportsmen.
But not everyone sees things that way. There are the select few out there who think since they don’t eat bass, no one should. Then these clowns blast others—usually it’s on social media— in an attempt to shame them for eating a fish. Newsflash, if this is you, and I hope it isn’t… you’re no better than the tree hugging hippies at PETA telling everyone that it’s wrong to eat Wilbur the pig or Bessy the cow.
Fish are food first, and sport second. Always have been, always will be. There’s a reason the Good Lord made them taste so good with a plate of cheese grits and baked beans sitting next to a mason jar of sweet tea.
There are circumstances where some bass need to be kept—farm ponds that get overpopulated and stunt the growth and eventually ruin the lake, reservoirs where spotted bass are crowding out largemouth or smallmouth.
I’m afraid we as fishermen, especially in the bass fishing community, have a major divide when it comes to this topic. We don’t have to agree, it’s perfectly fine to have a difference of opinion. But respect for our fellow anglers isn’t up for debate, and it never has been. You want to turn them back, I’m for you. You want to keep what the law allows, have at it.
Truth be told we need both types of anglers to practice conservation. It’s a give and take. We need the fisherman that drops the 10-pounder back in the lily pads to fight another day, and we need the guy who takes home his catch to cook his family supper. As anglers we’re a team. If we’re going to enjoy the sport for years to come, we have to work together. It’s time we start doing just that.