Jason Lucas' final article of his series New Angling Techniques, titled, "The Gamest..."~PISH! compares the black bass and the pike as gamefish.

Today in Lucas The Series 6, we conclude our look back into the first six works of Jason Lucas published in Sports Afield.  In many a bass historians’ eyes, Lucas is second only to Dr. James A. Henshall when it comes to bass fishing importance.  Starting with this series, over the next 25 years, Lucas would teach more about the intricacies of bass fishing than the next 10 bass writers combined.

For his finale in the series, “The Gamest…” ~PISH!, though, he would lay a case that the bass wasn’t the gamest fish, as Dr. Henshall had said back in 1881.  To say such a thing would be blasphemy to all bass anglers of the day and have Henshall rolling over in his grave.  Yet, through four pages he made his case, using Henshall’s own words at times.

First, let me give the definition of the word PISH.  The word itself has Scotish origin and therefore would be one Lucas would know well, having been raised in the United Kingdom.  From Cambridge’s Dictionary Pish means: “an expression of strong disapproval and dislike.”  So, in short, the title of the article is highly disagreeing with Henshall’s claim the black bass is the gamest fish. 

Lucas knew the potential hypocrisy of his belief and how it could affect his reputation.  So how does Lucas make his case?

First he starts off comparing a bass and pike of the same weight.  He uses the example of a five- to six-pound pike and bass.  In his words, he says the pike will outfight the bass every time.  Through my own personal experience, this is not true, whether it’s a largemouth and especially a smallmouth.

For several years I lived in northern Idaho and was blessed to fish Lake Coeur d’Alene and its chain lakes.  Often while bass fishing, we’d catch pike in the same areas we were searching out bass, all with the same gear.  I can’t say any of those pike fought harder than a comparable sized bass.

Yes, pike fight differently than a bass, but that’s about it.  In fact, I truly believe that if you tied a five-pound smallmouth to a five-pound pike, the smallie would drown old Esox.

Lucas then describes the shear viciousness of the pike.  He describes pike that strike at a bait all the way to the boat before being hooked or anglers who catch a pike seconds after another angler broke the same fish off, the initial lure still dangling from its jaw.  Ferocious?  Yes.  Stupid?  Double yes.

Does ferocious and dumb make for a gamer fish?  Not in my eyes.  Lucas even says in this article that the black bass is much shyer and smarter in its predation of artificial lures and then goes on to describe the pike as being a numbskull.

Next Lucas talks about the pike purposefully entangling itself in any cover it can find and that he’s never seen a bass do such a thing.  This really surprises me that he wrote that in words.  I know for a fact that Lucas fished all over the United States, and most likely spent plenty of time in Florida or other parts of the south where weeds were plentiful.

In my experience bass fishing, over 50 years, if a bass can find some form of cover between it and the boat, he will make every effort to get there.  So I am not sure why Lucas would even venture to give this comparison.

Another example Lucas gave was in using Henshall’s own words against him.  As many know, Dr. Henshall was one of the first people to transport and plant black bass throughout the U.S.  He knew that the rivers and creeks, that naturally held brook trout and other salmonids were soon to be erased from the landscape through the construction of dams.  In these waters, he suggested planting black bass.

Henshall was accused by trout anglers of replacing the brook trout with bass.  But this is far from the truth.  Henshall defended his position saying, “I am utterly opposed to the introduction of black bass into waters in which there is the remotest chance for brook trout or rainbow to thrive.”

Lucas took this sentence of Henshall’s to say that Henshall himself didn’t consider the black bass gamer than the trout.  Outlandish is what I think of this premise.  Henshall was a conservationist and knew the importance of saving habitat for brook and rainbow trout.  Not because they were gamer than the bass, but because he wanted to save the species.

So, does a pike fight better than a black bass?  I’m sure there are individual fish that might fight harder.  But overall, I don’t feel this is the case, especially when you consider the big smallmouth.

Does this final article in the series make me see Jason Lucas in a different light than before?  The answer to that question is no.  Read his book, Lucas on Bass, to understand why I say that.

Jason Lucas is still, in my eyes, considered the second most important person in bass fishing history.  He brought a scientific look to the sport and communicated it to the masses in a voluminous amount of work between 1945 and 1970.  It wasn’t until Buck Perry and Bill Binkelman started Fishing News that there was any remote competition.

The full article can be read below.  And, if you missed any of the prior parts, please click on the following links.  Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4, Part 5.

Jason Lucas New Angling Techniques, "The Gamest..."~PISH. August 1945 issue of Sports Afield Page 38.
Jason Lucas New Angling Techniques, "The Gamest..."~PISH. August 1945 issue of Sports Afield Page 40.
Jason Lucas New Angling Techniques, "The Gamest..."~PISH. August 1945 issue of Sports Afield Page 62.
Jason Lucas New Angling Techniques, "The Gamest..."~PISH. August 1945 issue of Sports Afield Page 63.