Bluegills: Pound-for-pound, the best fighters?

With bass season due to open later this month, legions of bass fans are anxiously awaiting the June 21 opener (although catch-and-release bass fishing has been legal since last year). If the fishing themes and targeted fish species that proliferate on ESPN and the Outdoor Channel weren't enough of a clue, surveys have proven that bass are the nation's most popular gamefish. Certainly they make a good account of themselves when hooked, but are they truly the "fightingest fish that swims in fresh waters?"

Many years ago during a national outdoor writers conference, a half dozen of us were discussing what gamefish fought the hardest. The group included Lee Wulff, Jerry Gibbs and Homer Circle. Wulff naturally opted for the Atlantic salmon, a species he'd become anonymous with. Gibbs also chose the salmon, but when Circle gave his choice, several pairs of eyes popped wide open. 'I'd have to say the bluegill," Homer mused, not a hint of a smile showing on his face.

Now, Homer as the Fishing Editor for "Sports Afield" is one of the most respected writer-anglers in the nation. He was also recognized as one of the best and most knowledgeable bass fisherman in the country. His answer took us all by surprise. He then elaborated on his choice. "A big bluegill seldom weighs a pound, but if they were to get as big as largemouth bass, say nothing of a salmon, pound-for-pound they'd outfight any freshwater fish that swims."

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