What began as a typical evening on the St. Joseph River near Bristol for eight-year-old Jon Howell and his dad became one they’ll never forget.
The father/son fishing trips have become routine this summer. Jon Jr. has been a river fishing fanatic ever since his grandfather gave his dad his old, Tracker Marine bass boat rigged with a jet drive engine.
“We put it in the water this summer and have been catching fish all year,” said dad. “That upper stretch of the river near Bristol really has some nice bass.”
That held true on that mid-October evening as well. Around 6:45 in mid-October, young Jon set the hook on a nice smallmouth while fishing a deep hole that contained rock and wood pilings.
“He got it up alongside the boat and I saw it had a metal tag in its jaw,” recalled the elder Howell. “I remembered seeing something at boat launches about a tagged fish program, so I told Jon he couldn’t lose that fish.”
He didn’t, and sure enough, the 16-incher bore a DNR tag that was carefully removed before the fish released.
They contacted the DNR with the information and discovered that Jon not only won a $5 Bass Pro Shops gift card, but the fish was tagged that same day it was caught!
Fish tags placed on the lips of several Indiana river bass are part of a study biologists are conducting to help them determine the success of a 12-to-15-inch river bass size limit imposed recently.
“I think Jon was more excited about catching the tagged fish than larger bass he’s caught on the river this year,” said dad.
The Trinity Lutheran third grader uses a 6-foot Berkley Amp rod with a Shimano Spirex reel spooled with 8-pound Trilene XL line.