New River Mike I got my new issue of "Audubon" today and darned if there isn't a little piece on smallmouth bass: "In cool, clear, rocky lakes and streams across the United States, smallmouth bass - actually a sunfish - are easing into shallows. The males, smaller than females, come first, cutting nests in gravel with their broad tales, then herding in their mates - often more than one. The male guards the eggs, fanning them with their tail, then broods the young. When males are on their nest, they're extremely aggressive and will hit virtually any bait or lure, even if they've been caught and released the same day...Before 1869, smallmouths were largely restricted to the Lake Ontario and Ohio River drainage systems. But, toted in water tenders and tanks of the early railroads, they fanned out across the continent with their early admirers. Pound for pound, few, if any, freshwater fish are stronger. Today, thanks to the efforts of Ray Scott and the 600,000-member Bass Anglers Sportsman Society he founded, most serious bass fishermen no longer kill their catch." As an aside, one of the saddest fishing things I've ever seen occurred one day while a friend and I were wading the New River in Virginia. Like most presumably conscientious fishermen, we knew where the bass "beds" were and steered clear when they were on their nests. We were also aware that others didn't share this ethic. In fact, it was a common fact that anything that looked like a newt (a kind of salamander) was sure to provoke a response from the fish, who will actually pick them up and carry them away to remove them from the eggs or fry. During this day, we did notice a pair of fishermen further upriver, working the area we'd avoided, so we figured they were targetting bass on their beds. When we returned to our vehicle above the railroad tracks, we noticed a vehicle approaching us, and as it came closer, we saw it was our upriver "companions." When we asked how they'd done, they gladly hopped out to show us a large cooler packed with about half a dozen of the very largest bass I''ve ever yet seen in person - none less than about two feet long, and all likely in the five to six pound range. They were proud to tell us that they'd taken every one off beds, casting an imitation salamander. Who knows how many future bass were lost to that river that day by the selfishness of those two "sportsmen?" There was nothing we could say - it was perfectly legal, and even if it hadn't been, enforcement was every bit the challenge that it is out here. That's the kind of mentality Ray Scott and company have worked to overcome in the southeast in particular and among bass fishermen in general.