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Old 03-30-17, 09:05 AM   #1
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Default The 'eyes' have it - the brain not so much

We've all been indoctrinated about how a bass (or any fish species) thinks or more accurately, what it thinks. If it sees a skirted jig and trailer, it thinks it's a crawfish. If it chases a white skirted spinnerbait, it thinks it's a shad. What about a plastic worm or Senko? Where in it's vocabulary are there comparisons to those baits? Assigning a bass an IQ is reaching at best and worse, assuming bass have an imagination like the angler that imagines it to be so. The problem with that is the proof is catching fish on different lures on the same outing refutes the concept that fish are capable of thinking and choosing.

Here's a concept worth considering: fish react, period! Most of the time we cast lures that look like nothing in nature and yet catch bass almost all of the time. Any connections made to any prey species are made by anglers - not fish. If fish could think, it would never strike a pink Senko or a bright yellow Mr Twister grub.
On one day of fishing, I've caught fish on five or more different lure designs - especially in spring. If I were to match the current popular bait species, those other lures shouldn't have caught bass that didn't match, which brings me to lure color.

Granted, bass can see different colors, most of which are altered by the amount of sun light, colors filtered by water stains and depth. The only time a fish can see an actual color is in clear or shallow water. Since that is the case, it seems a bit silly choosing a color that matches this or that prey animal, like a spring or fall crawfish. This ignores that fact that bass or any predator fish (most in fact) are opportunists. If a prey animal comes too near, a bass may shoot out and grab it. It doesn't evaluate the object's color scheme but instead reacts to object motion, shape, contrast, etc.

The most that can be said for color is color brightness. Brightness accounts for contrast against a background. That's not to say a bass couldn't detect an object that matches a background - even against the night sky, but that anything that contrasts with nature stands out unnaturally so. Not all prey species blend in such as yellow perch for example: bright orange fins, bright yellow scales with black stripes. ( I'll bet many of you have used a yellow perch colored Rapala and caught bass where perch don't exist. I have!) But more important, fish don't know the difference between a perch and a sunfish - both represent a generic food.

Color brightness considerations includes flash or sparkle. How many of you have used soft plastics with metal flakes? What do they represent, getting back to the original idea of fish IQ? I like green flakes in pumpkin along with black flakes. Fish bite it anyway. Their eyes are extremely sensitive underwater and along with the later line, are superb detectors of any moving object. The object's size might be important or not depending on the fish's aggressiveness at that moment, but maybe color brightness more so. This is not to deny the fact that many colors and color brightness wouldn't work on one day, but that maybe too much of a good thing is passed by such as a bright flashing spinner blade. As for myself, I can catch fish all day, any day, on white or pearl and muted color favorites.

Many would like to think lure shape important as a representation of a prey animal, but shape is part of a lure's design that affects lure action. Lure profiles are many that fish react to, but more so lure action. A skirted jig has a totally different profile and action than a plastic worm or Senko, but each catches fish because of each's unique lure action. Consider this: a jig's skirt flairs and pulsates; a Senko's tips and body wobble slowly on the way down; a plastic worm slinks along the bottom. Action speaks louder than profile when it comes to fish noticing a lure and having their attention held long enough to provoke them to strike. I have designed a few plastic grubs, each with different unique actions that catch more than five species a day, bass included.

Lure speed along with lure action is crucial to catching fish. Granted, burning a spinnerbait or crankbait has it's moments, but for the most part, fish react to lure action when there is enough time for the lure to be observed and felt with the lateral line. If I were to believe a fish had a brain, I would include those two senses connected to a brain that is nothing more than a conduit to it's muscles after a spark goes off causing an almost reflexive action and as we all know, reflex actions are involuntary.

Most of the time fish don't have a choice - they either take or leave it, not consider it, simply reacting to something that stimulates their senses. Anglers make fish do something not in their best interest - strike an object not necessarily to eat it, but to strike it for no good reason (as if fish could reason). It's like saying, 'the devil made me do it', meaning outside our control to avoid an action that proved negative by way of adequate temptation.

Many want to believe anglers outwit an animal dumber than dirt, when in actuality it is they who are outwitted by manufacturer claims pushed by well
paid pro sponsors. ( Bass Master magazine is full of them.) Next time you use a lure, rather than believe someone else's reasons why the lure worked, consider what it was about lure action by design that caused a fish to strike when the lure was presented a certain way. Once the combination is found, that lure will always be in your tackle box.

Now that takes a bit of thought !
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Old 03-31-17, 11:20 AM   #2
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Lots of good thoughts here bud. I too feel that bass and any other predator fish take advantage of whatever prey they can find that to them is vulnerable and eatable. Take the swim bait for instance. The trout pattern is huge in those California bodies of water that contain trout. Will a bass in a Midwest natural lake strike a trout pattern swim bait despite the lack of trout in the lake. Sure they will. They are opportunists. It's mostly picking a lure that can be fished efficiently where the bass are located at the time, and one that will trigger a strike depending on the mood of the fish at the given moment. All that being said, color is one area I still feel can make a difference. Let me give you an example. I live nearby Michigan City Indiana where there is a light house and very large and long cement walking pier. There is a large ditch that empties into the harbor there. In the late spring/early summer months, Skamania steelhead run up stream to spawn there, and often stage at the entrance to the harbor/ditch. When they are there, it's not unusual too see 50-100 steelhead caught there. But, the unusual thing is color choice. You can catch them on anything almost, as long as it is bright fluorescent orange. When I started fishing for them long ago, I had every color spoon, spinner, and crank bait you could imagine except bright orange. EVERYONE around me was catching their limit. I was getting skunked. Nothing I threw would trigger a strike. A few others on the pier like myself had no bright orange and we all left empty handed. After a few trips without catching a single steelhead, I finally got my hands on some bright orange spoons, made by someone locally as I couldn't find that color spoon from any commercial lure maker. That did the trick. I was suddenly catching steel heads with the same fever as the other anglers now. Why that color??? Who knows. The water is bathtub clear, and there is no prey that the steel head feed on in that color, but that is still the deal to this day. There are tons of perch for the steelhead to feed on, along with smelt. But nothing resembling either will get a single strike. It's very odd. Here in my local lakes, I almost never have caught any bass on any green or brown colored soft plastic or jig. But put on black, or black/blue and I'll start catching them with gusto. And that is in very clear water most of the time. So color is still somewhat of a mystery for me.
Just one more cast, and then some!
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Old 04-02-17, 07:42 PM   #3
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Great thoughts about the real nature of survival of the fittest
Mother Nature dictates that wild fish must eat to survive and gorge when possible
Canada where men are men and sheep r nervy
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Old 05-11-17, 05:58 PM   #4
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Bass react to their environment. Almost like a reflex isn't true. They process information and then react. The reaction may be to strike, do nothing, or swim away. It has been proven that bass can be trained and they can learn. Smart bass are harder to catch than dumb bass. May explain your questions about color and lure types.
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