Monday Trivia – Name the Year Answer and Winner (February 16, 2015)

Old school smallmouth bass "grip and grin" photo

1884 Minnesota Historical Society photo

There were 3 correct guesses this week (of 17), and the first of those to post was from Thomas Zaleski. Congrats to Thomas for winning this week’s Trivia Contest sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits. For the story behind this awesome picture, keep reading.

Once again we’ll do something different with Monday Trivia. This week, you don’t have to know your bass pros. You don’t have to know any fishing history. You don’t have to dig out any patch-laden jumpsuits from your closet and post a picture of you wearing it – though that would be entertaining. Nope – this week, EVERYONE has a chance at winning our prize package, sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits.

Here’s all you have to do.

Take a look at the picture in this post, click to enlarge if that will help you out, and then simply take your best guess as to what year this picture is from. Post it as a comment in this thread. The first person to guess it correctly, or the person who gets closest to the actual year (again, earliest poster wins if multiple same close guesses) will be our winner. Only one guess per reader allowed. We’ll announce that winner, as well as the story/history behind this picture on Thursday. Everyone – give us your best guess!

The story behind this picture follows:

The picture above is from the Minnesota Historical Society and appeared in In’ Fisherman magazine, Segment 1/Study Report 5 (March 1976). In those early days of In’ Fisherman, the magazine was part research paper, part fishing how-to. A Segment was a one-year period, and each Segment consisted of 10 Study Reports. Furthermore, each Study Report consisted of a number of Units, and each Unit was composed of Sections. Got all that?

This particular issue dealt specifically with fishing in Canadian Shield lakes, one type of water body in their classification system, and particularly the smallmouth bass. The picture appeared in Unit 1, “Shield Waters With Smallmouth.” In the photo, a Minnesota “boatman” is on the far left. “Boatman” was the title given to what we might consider a guide or captain now days. The other three gentlemen to the right were sport fishermen from Louisville, Chicago and Detroit. Look closely and you’ll also see the gear of the day, in this case, cane poles. In’ Fisherman stated that live bait of some sort was likely the bait of choice. The catch of nearly 3 dozen bass came from Detroit Lake in 1884, long before catch and release, and likely before regulatory limits on harvest.

In' Fisherman photo

In’ Fisherman photo

Back to the article, there was a map showing the normal distribution range of smallmouth, as well as the stocked range at the time. That normal range only into middle Minnesota, and many of the now famous smallmouth waters were void of such fish back in the late 1800s. This included most of upper Minnesota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, as well as most Ontario waters, now considered all prime smallmouth haunts. They were also excluded from much of the east coast at the time. Early stocking efforts, some by private individuals and others by local and state governing bodies, spread the smallmouth in the early 1900s into all of these regions.

Early stocking efforts were rather crude by today’s standards, and often ineffective. Rail car was the primary means of transporting fish into these new waters, and lakes closest to the existing railway system were the first to get stocked in many cases. Large milk cans were the most popular container with which to transport young smallmouth and other game fish, and these would be dumped lakeside along the shorelines. Long Lake was one of the first Ontario waters planted with smallmouth, and they “took” well, turning the Kenora region into a smallmouth haven. Once established in the lakes, natural dispersal further occurred through the many connecting rivers and streams in the area. Ultimately, this stocking and natural spreading would lead to the many great smallmouth waters we know today such as  Rainy, Vermilion, Basswood, Lake of the Woods, and western Thunder Bay