According to a Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Fisheries Biologist, a local angler may have caught and released the oldest largemouth bass in Montana. The bass might also be one of the oldest surviving largemouth bass in North America.
10-year old Garrett Frost of Kalispell caught and released a tagged largemouth bass in Rose Creek Slough on July 16, 2011. The fish was estimated to be 20-22 inches in length and weigh approximately 3.5 lbs.
Prior to releasing the fish, the angler spotted a tag on the fish and recovered it. Fishery Worker Jon Cavigli checked the database and found that the bass had carried this floy tag for 14 years.
According to Garret’s father, Tyler, the bass appeared to be in good condition, and weighed 3-1/2 pounds on his scale.
According to the tag information, the bass was caught and tagged by Phil Rivard in Fennon Slough on October 3, 1997. At that time the fish was 14.2” long and weighed 1.5 lbs.
Based on the size of the largemouth bass in 1997 and the age-growth database, Deleray estimates that the fish was probably 5 years old when tagged. Adding that age with how long the tag was in the fish places its age at 19 years old. This may be the oldest confirmed largemouth bass reported in Montana.
Most sources place the maximum age at 15 or 16 for largemouth bass in the northern United States. Deleray is contacting other fisheries biologists, and, so far, has not found any records of largemouth bass as old as the Rose Creek Slough bass.
Largemouth bass in Montana are at the northern edge of their range. Fish tend to grow slower and live longer in the cold waters found in Montana and other northern states.
source: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Fisheries