On Friday Oct. 24, 2014 Dave Chong of Aurora Ontario went fishing with good friend, Steve Neveu of Cobourg. Just as they were about to take off, Dave realized he forgot his net in the back of the truck. Steve offered to grab it and quickly ran back. "There are two nets - the smaller one should be fine," Dave yelled out. Once there Steve saw a rather big EGO net and another that was even larger. Steve brought back the “Really Big" EGO net so Dave looked at him with a grin and asked if he thought one of them might be catching a "Really Big" fish and without hesitating, his response was “Absolutely!"
It was a cool 50 degrees F but for once during this crazy windy fall, the winds were rather light and the big lake pretty calm. On wide open Lake Simcoe, the 6th largest inland lake in Ontario (280 sq miles) finding a place to get out of the wind, can be next to impossible … so this was a great day for Dave and Steve to be on the water. Despite the idyllic conditions however, it was a tough bite and that morning they had only caught four bass and none were over 3lbs. They were fishing in 27 feet of water over a hard rather featureless bottom in early afternoon when suddenly Dave's rod doubled over and he thought he was snagged on bottom. But then he realized how deep he was and heard his drag begin to zing – so he knew he had something big on.
"At first I thought it was a laker because it was so was strong and peeled drag several times without ever attempting to jump! I was not sure what it really was until we saw this gorgeous bass about 15' beneath the boat in Simcoe's gin clear waters. I thought it was over 5 maybe 6 lbs." Dave said. As the fish was coming up Steve commented, “Yeah it's definitely bigger than anything else we've caught today!" Then it popped to the surface, and Dave responded with a resounding “You think?" followed by “Get the net underneath that thing!"
Once the fish was in the net, Steve couldn't help but remind Dave, "See, told you we needed the bigger net!" They marveled at the size & girth of the fish and tried to figure out how much it might weigh. As an accomplished tournament angler and guide Dave has caught more than his fare share of big bass in this renowned smallmouth fishery … located about 40 minutes from his home. In fact Dave's log book has recorded 32 smallies on Lake Simcoe that he's caught that were 7 lbs. or better but up until October 24th his Personal Best was 7.5 lbs. and he knew that this fish was bigger than that.
As luck would have it, they didn't have a weigh scale on board but Dave knew his friend Taro Murata was out guiding and he was sure that he would have a scale on board for his clients. So in the livewell the big bass went. A quick call confirmed Taro's location. They put the fish on his Berkley digital scale and it read 8.2 lbs. Steve took a bunch of pictures and measurements and then they released the fish in perfect condition. It measured 23.25" in length and had a 19.75" girth.
The Eight Pound Threshold:
Eight pound plus smallmouth bass are truly a rare beast anywhere on the planet and Dave now is one of only a few elite anglers who have topped this threshold. Even the finest trophy smallmouth fisheries in the southern US - where growing seasons are much longer, seldom produce smallmouth over this weight. (Including Dale Hollow Reservoir in Tennessee where the world record 11 pound, 15 ounce smallmouth was caught in 1955. Lake Simcoe holds the Canadian record for the 5 heaviest bass ever caught in a Canadian Bass tournament at 31.5lbs. This record was set by Joey Muszynski and Mark Moran in 2010 at the Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open, hosted by the Aurora Bassmasters. At that same tournament, an 8.05 lb smallmouth was caught- the heaviest bass on record in a Canadian event. We asked Dave why he thought Lake Simcoe produces such outstanding trophies.
“Honestly, I believe that Lake Simcoe has always had the food sources for a smallmouth to grow close to world record proportions. But I think that since the introduction of round gobies, this could be even truer as this constantly available food source has really augmented their diet of smelt, herring, emeralds, panfish and crayfish. I know that there are double digit smallmouth bass in Lake Simcoe and believe that the world record will be broken on it one day. My fish was in perfect shape, never seen a hook before … not a mark anywhere around its mouth or head."
We then asked him if there was ever any temptation to keep this fish either for the table or a taxidermy mount?
"NEVER! The only time that I would ever keep a giant fish like that is if it is a true world record - because that's what's required for verification. I made sure that we got some really good pics and accurate measurements so that I can have a replica made if I chose to do so. I think that “Catch & Release" is critical to the prosperity of our fisheries especially the trophy ones. I also believe that the bass fishing community needs continue their efforts to promote Catch & Release so that this important message is getting out to all anglers."
Tackle Used: Lure was a Lucky Craft Pointer 100DD in Skeet's Magic on a Daiwa 7'2" Medium action rod with a Daiwa Zillion reel. The combo was spooled up with Sunline Sniper FC 10 lbs. test fluorocarbon.
Dave's Sponsors: Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Outboards, Fenelon Falls Marina, Ultra Tungsten, Daiwa Rods & Reels, Vigor Eyewear ,Power Pole, State Apparel, Stringease, Lowrance, Navionics, Lucky Craft, Fin-tech, EGO Nets Lightning Series, The Pro-Cord, Sunline, NPS, Simms, HT Enterprises, Mariner's Choice & VOK Fishing. For over a decade, Dave has also ran and hosted the Catch a Dream Kids Fishing Derby on Lake Simcoe every June. Here over 75 hard core anglers take kids and their guardians out fishing in their bass boats and return to a tournament style weigh-in. Thanks to generous sponsor support, each child walks away with a selection of tackle, gifts and a rod and reel combo for future fishing trips.
Dave's 2014 Bass Tournament Hi-lights
|. 21, 2014||Quinte Bass Champs-Bay of Quinte||4.38 lbs||2nd place in hour#7|
|Jun. 28, 2014||Renegade Bass Q1-Newboro Lake||18.09 lbs||1st out of 55 teams|
|Jul. 6, 2014||CSFL NW Tour Q1-Lake Couchiching||16.4 lbs||4th out of 49 teams|
|July 20, 2014||CSFL NW Tour Q3-Gloucester Pool||14.1 lbs||11th out of 64 teams|
|July 22, 2014||The Shot Gun Series-Gloucester Pool||13.9 lbs||3rd out of 15 teams|
|July 26, 2014||Aurora Bassmasters-Balsam Lake||10.03 lbs||3rd out of 30 anglers|
|July 29, 2014||Aurora Bassmasters-Lake Scugog||5.88 lbs||5th out of 22 anglers|
|Aug. 2, 2014||Renegade Bass Q3-St. Lawrence River||22.80 lbs.||6th out of 56 teams|
|Aug. 3, 2014||Renegade Bass Q4-St. Lawrence River||23.82 lbs.||1st out of 56 teams|
|Aug. 9, 2014||Top Bass Qualifier-Balsam Lake||15.77 lbs||7th out of 102 teams|
|Aug. 10, 2014||CSFL NW Tour-Lake Muskoka||13.45 lbs||7th out of 42 teams|
|Aug. 17, 2014||CSFL Eastern Tour Q4-Rice Lake||15.05 lbs||10th out of 41 teams|