Lost to History: H.W. Ross

Forest and Stream supposedly had evidence of Ross' giant bass, but when the magazine merged with Field & Stream in 1930 and began publishing a list of world records, Ross was forgotten or ignored.

Forest and Stream supposedly had evidence of Ross’ giant bass, but when the magazine merged with Field & Stream in 1930 and began publishing a list of world records, Ross was forgotten or ignored.

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a great piece for you by Ken Duke on a fish that time and a number of people have forgotten. It was a fish mentioned only briefly one time in James A. Henshall’s book More About the Black Bass, published in 1889. The fish of interest was supposedly caught by an H. W. Ross and weighed in at 23-1/8 pounds a weight that would still be the record. Ken Duke, in his usual fashion, disects what we know of this fish and the man, and brings up more questions than answers. We think you’ll enjoy this very early history of record-class bass.]

“Mr. H.W. Ross, when in Florida, caught, in a ‘clear, deep, lily-bound lake,’ near Altoona, in that state, a large-mouthed Black Bass which, he states, weighed twenty-three and one-eighth pounds, and measured, from tip of nose to tip of tail, thirty-seven and one-half inches, and in girth, twenty-nine and one-half inches. The head of this fish was sent to the office of ‘Forest and Stream,’ in New York, and its dimensions were given by the editor as follows: ‘Its maxillary bone measures four and three-fourths inches; the head is seven and one-half inches from the tip of the upper jaw to the end of the opercle, and the lower jaw projects one inch. The greatest girth of the head is sixteen and one-half inches.”

That passage is from James A. Henshall’s More About the Black Bass, his 1889 sequel to Book of the Black Bass (1881). It is the only reference I’ve seen to H.W. Ross or that fish. [Read more…]

James A. Henshall – 1883

Century Magazine's July 1883 issue featuring Black Bass Fishing by James A. Henshall.

Century Magazine’s July 1883 issue featuring Black Bass Fishing by James A. Henshall.

If you’re a student of bass fishing there’s no doubt you’ve at least heard of James Alexander Henshall – the father of bass fishing. In 1881, Henshall wrote the first book on the black bass, titled “Book of the Black Bass,” and coined what is without a doubt the most revered quote for the species, “I consider him, inch for inch and pound for pound the gamest fish that swims.”

As stated above, his book was first printed in 1881 by Robert Clarke and Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. Between 1881 and 1900, 13 variants of the first edition were also printed by Robert Clarke and Company. [Read more…]