The bass ranks among the most popular freshwater fish in the United States. There are several species in the black bass family but largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass attract the most attention especially by the half a million members of B.A.S.S., the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society.

But what if there weren’t any bass? What fish would bass anglers be chasing then?

With its proportionally large mouth and aggressiveness, the green sunfish might be a candidate, but they rarely grow larger than 10 inches.

The toothy northern pike grow much larger, reaching over 20 pounds, but cannot tolerate the warm water of the south.

Striped bass are very popular too, but even though this species is in a different family it is still rather bass-like, and also has a limited range.

I posed this question to some of the pros.

Without a “Bass”master tournament, Todd Faircloth thought he would be fishing for crappie. His reasoning was not for the quality of the fight, but more that he likes to eat them.

Casey Ashley might be tournament fishing for flathead catfish. But again, I think my questioning around lunch time influenced this pro’s answer. “Best tasting fish there is.”

Bill Lowen would be fishing for “anything that pulls.” That rules out crappie or the walleye, which pull “like a wet log.” Depending on the tournament location, the freshwater drum probably is his most common accidental catch. So maybe Bill Lowen would do well in a “Drummaster” tournament.

With a big grin, Stephen Browning simply said “there is no other fish.”

Tournaments and derbies are held for other species but they typically are targeted using one or two methods such as small jigs (crappie), trolling (walleye), or bait (catfish). Bass can be caught using just about anything in your tackle box and can be found in every state in a wide range of depths and conditions.

As Dave Mercer, host of Facts of Fishing TV show and emcee of Bassmaster events put it, “there isn’t any other fish that can be caught with such a range of techniques.”

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. He says there are “people who fish”… and there are “fishermen”.  One of the few things he knows is that he is a “fisherman”...  To the point it could be classified as borderline illness.  Sharing this obsession is rewarding, therapeutic. He likes to encourage people to “stop and smell the crappie."  Enjoys catching fish, but gets a greater thrill out of helping someone else hook up.
Born in Florida, but raised on the banks of Oklahoma farm ponds. Now relocated to western Pennsylvania. He has fished, worked, lived all around the US.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State as well...
And he met his wife while electrofishing. He has been contributing weekly to www.takemefishing.org since 2011.