Bass have a Homing Device?

Mike Cork and a Largemouth bass

I often wonder if a bass that was caught, weighed in, and released at a weigh in site miles from where it was caught; could find its way back home or want too. There have been many studies published that, after reading, you might be left with more questions than answers; at least I usually am. I have read story after story of bass that, because of identifying marks, had returned back to its original location sometimes miles away or even through river locks.

My main reason for wonder what a bass might do is “spot stocking”. If a bass will take up residence where it was released, it would make sense that an angler could catch fish from around a body of water and place them in a favorite fishing spot to keep it loaded with fish. That said here are two arguments I have personally witnessed that say yes and no. However, lots of variables to both.

When I was younger, I fished a lake in central California called San Antonio. This was a fantastic fishery that held a lot of tournaments ranging from club events to major circuits. While fishing throughout the lake could be fantastic, one of the best places when it was tough is a drop off just outside the only launch ramp on the lake. Here, we would catch what I affectionately called “Re-Treads”. These bass had obviously been caught before; some still had sores in their mouths or on their fins. Released tournament bass simply cruised by this drop off as they left the launch area and because it was great structure and held food, they stayed. Now not all bass stayed, but with electronics, you could see many did. They stayed put because of good structure and food, does this mean they didn’t have a home.

Two years ago, an angler catches a 16 pound bass on a lake local to me now, called Caddo Lake. It’s a cypress tree lake with a river feeding it, but the majority of the lake is filled with humps and shallow water. Average depth of the lake it’s self is only 6 feet. This fish was a lake record and submitted to the Texas Share a Lunker Program. Caddo Lake is a boarder lake between Louisiana and Texas, so it qualified for both state programs; however, the angler claims it was caught on the Texas side. No one really knows as it’s a secret and after you finish reading this you’ll know why. Texas State officials took the fish to its brood tanks and spawned it out. After ensuring the health of the bass and the harvesting activities were complete, the bass was released back into Caddo Lake. Fast forward to last spring (one year ago), another angler catches a bass that is also 16 pounds, but falls just a couple tenths of a pound short of the previous record bass. Again, claiming it was caught on the Texas side, Texas officials take the bass. Low and behold it’s the same bass. They had placed a micro chip in the bass, so they could keep track of it. Here, is the kicker to this drawn out story. The two anglers know each other and after finding out it was the same fish, they disclosed its location. Both times it was caught it was within 20 yards, same hump. The release location for bass after being submitted to the Texas Share a Lunker program is unknown to the general public; however, it is in the river and several miles from the location this monster bass has been caught. So she travelled home.

Just something’s I think about. Here is a link to a thread on the Ultimate Bass Forums where I’m discussing this with the vast information we have available in our members.

Do bass have a home?

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Mike Cork
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