If you're an angler who believes that sometimes you get "outsmarted" by those wily ol' bass, I have some bad news for you.
Carp are even "smarter." That's right. The bottom feeder disrespected by so many is no dummy.
"From my years of experience in observing bass in the laboratory, I would have to rank them around the middle of the intelligence range: definitely smarter than trout (at least hatchery trout) but dumber than carp (no insult intended — carp are smarter than you think!)," said Dr. Keith Jones, who has long studied fish behavior for Berkley.
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"The common carp (Cyprinus carpio) are indeed among the smartest freshwater fishes, if not THE smartest," said another source. " They learn well for fish. They have the longest complex learning retention of all fishes tested."
Seriously, though, it's impossible to measure fish "intelligence" in any way comparable to the way that it is measured in humans. Rather, we watch how they behave in nature, and, more importantly, in laboratories and just their response to various stimuli.
As I reveal in Better Bass Fishing, you’re just outsmarting yourself if you try to “out-think” bass. Yes, bass are capable of learned behavior. But they definitely aren’t the “Einsteins” of the fish world. Carp and bluegill rank higher in laboratory tests. Most importantly, though, bass (and other fish species) don’t “think” and they aren’t “smart.”
Rather, bass are selective as to food, cover, and water, and, each spring, they are driven by the biological imperative to spawn.
Those anglers who are smart enough to recognize those needs and respond accordingly, are the ones who catch the most and largest bass. They look for water and cover that they have learned is attractive to bass during each season of the year. They learn the migration routes that fish take to those locations. They observe what bass are feeding on and try to offer baits that are similar in appearance.
Although bass are not smart, they do seem to learn to avoid some baits. That why new baits--- and new colors, to a lesser degree--- seem to produce better than older styles. For a while. We saw it happen with buzzbaits in the 1980s and soft jerkbaits in the 1990s. Now, it's happening with swimbaits.
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And here's an interesting take from the World Fishing Network:
The IQ of fish varies greatly depending on the species. It varies even further depending on individuals within any given species. Anglers need to look at the species that they are targeting for known traits and advantages that could make them more difficult to catch.
Fish can learn to avoid specific lures and noises made by anglers. In order to continue to be successful, anglers need to try new lures and colors on a regular basis. An effort should also be made to fish new areas and to make as little noise as possible.
Fish intelligence is hereditary and they can be bred to be easier to catch. Anglers should care take when harvesting fish in order to avoid selectively breeding intelligence. Smaller fish, whether intelligent or not, haven't had the chance to learn to avoid lures. Therefore, they make a better choice for harvesting.
Whether you are catching fish or not, it is unlikely that they are outsmarting you. Their intelligence is very limited. You just need to work around what they may have learned.
Where do carp and bass rank in intelligence on a planet with more than 30,000 species of fish in our ponds, lakes, rivers, and oceans? We'll likely never know that.
But some scientists suspect that the top of the class are of the marine variety.
"In general, cartilaginous fishes (sharks, skates, and rays) have higher brain-to-body mass ratios than bony fishes, as well as most cold-blooded vertebrates. And manta rays have the largest brain size of any cartilaginous fish, although we don't know why," reports one website.
"What we do know, though, is that they're very curious. They also somehow perceive humans as 'special.' Along with marine mammals, they are among the very few animals known to seek out human contact for reasons other than food. Some of them have even been known to let humans ride on them. Preliminary evidence even suggest that they could recognize themselves in mirrors, putting them in an extremely small group of animals."
And Thom Demas, curator of fishes at the Tennessee Aquarium shared this interesting observation on the same site:
"I don’t know that there is a clear answer to this question but here is a personal experience from my time working with fishes. The common hogfish, Lachnolaimus maximus, has proven over the years to be a very aware and observant fish.
"I have kept many of them and while I have never looked into brain to body percentage for this animal, it clearly displays behavior that seems just a bit above that of many other fish I have worked with.
"From observing my daily work (the hogfish was doing the observing) to following me around (moving in the tank to be nearest me--- presumably because of curiosity). I know, you think it probably just wanted food and that’s what I thought.
One day I fed the fish until it would no longer eat and then went back to my work. I recall seeing that fish follow me around with a piece of food hanging from its mouth and more on the bottom of the tank being ignored; that convinced me there was more going on.
I had one that would allow you to 'pet' it while on SCUBA in the water with it. Many fish are evolved to display lots of complex behaviors or accomplish many things we could interpret as smart but the common hogfish will always be one of the smartest fish in my book!"
As anyone who has caught tuna knows, they will chase bait on top, but, once hooked, they become fast, hard-fighting fish that usually stay deep. Suddenly, though, the one that I had on light tackle didn’t know its place. It leaped from the water and greyhounded across the top. At first, I didn’t realize the contradictory behavior. Then the captain started yelling from the tower, and I recognized what was going on.
The tuna on the end of my line was not trying to get away from me; it was trying to avoid being eaten.
Excerpt from Why We Fish: Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen
These are but a few of the secrets in "The Bite" from Better Bass Fishing: Secrets From the Headwaters by a Bassmaster Senior Writer. Here's a link to the book at Barnes & Noble. Amazon also carries it, but often is sold out.
Secret: Bass, as with all other predators, will feed on the largest available prey that requires the least amount of energy to catch and subdue. At least that’s what many resource managers believe, and they call this idea the “optimum foraging theory.”
But don’t be misled and believe that this means you always should throw big baits and retrieve them as slowly as possible if you want to catch large bass. You might see your magnum crankbait or 1-ounce spinnerbait as just what the big fish should want. But what you should be paying attention to is what the bass actually are feeding on. That’s what they see as the best bang for their buck in terms of least amount of work for the best meal.
Slowing down your retrieve, however, almost always is a good idea if the bite is slow, especially if you’re throwing a topwater or spinnerbait.
Secret: One of the most important discoveries that we’ve made from bass tournaments is that fish always can be caught somewhere, some way in a lake or river, even under the worst of conditions. In other words, the fact that you aren’t catching them doesn’t mean that no one else is either. Don’t stick with a pattern or place too long if you aren’t getting bites, especially if you are fishing a tournament and are limited by time.
Secret: While you can catch bass year around, you will not, on average, boat as many bass in cold water as you do in warm. That’s because bass are cold-blooded. At 39 degrees Fahrenheit, a bass’ metabolism and digestion falls to only 20 percent and 10 percent of what it was at 64 degrees.
Secret: Some bass are more difficult to catch than others. Researchers have proven that in their quest to develop strains of bass that are easier to catch for stocking in urban fisheries. In small ponds, they kept track of how many times each bass was caught and then bred together those most easily fooled. Offspring of those fish also proved easy to catch, suggesting that genetics play a role in whether a bass falls for an artificial.
More "secrets" about the bite upcoming at Activist Angler.
Check out all my books at Amazon.
Florida's coastal fisheries are being destroyed, as the Everglades and Florida Bay are starving for water.
Fed by polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee, toxic blue-green algae are coating Florida’s east and west coasts, causing fish kills and closing businesses.
This most recent crisis in South Florida reinforces the need to clean and send the water south, as it would naturally flow, to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay that are starving for freshwater.
The State of Florida and the Army Corps of Engineers need to initiate planning this year for water storage, treatment, and flow south of the lake, through the Everglades Agricultural Area.
Edit and send this message to Florida's Governor Scott for a comprehensive evaluation of water storage needs that could benefit the Everglades.
Ten things to know about Florida's harmful algae blooms
1. What It Is and Where It Came From
The algae is a cyanobacteria found in Lake Okeechobee, which comes from the runoff containing human waste and fertilizers from nearby farms and ordinary neighborhoods, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as other nutrients in the polluted runoff, can act like fertilizer for the algae, creating large and extensive blooms.
2. Eager Developers Changed Florida's Waterways
In an attempt to spur the economy years ago, Florida land developers and government officials broke up the natural flow of the state's rivers, Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades to redirect water south from central Florida, according to the Associated Press. The economy did grow as the land was reclaimed from the Everglades for development, but now the unnatural water flow has periodically left rivers and lagoons so toxic with HAB that fish die off, residents become ill and tourists are turned off.
3. The Risks to Humans
If ingested, water contaminated with toxic cyanobacteria can cause nausea, vomiting and, in severe cases, acute liver failure, according to Florida's FWCC. While there have been no documented cases of anyone becoming ill from drinking water containing these toxins, it remains a concern. The Centers for Disease Control says coming in direct contact with the algae can cause a rash and some research indicates a link between long-term inhalation of toxic algae fumes and neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
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"It's time the federal and state government understand how God-awful the problem is here," said Martin County Commissioner Doug Smith, referencing the 2010 oil spill that devastated wildlife along the Gulf of Mexico.
When the algae blooms die, they release toxins that cause rashes and could endanger wildlife.
The foul-smelling problem - which has closed beaches along the Treasure Coast - stems in part from stopgap measures put in place by the feds.
To preserve the aging earthen dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers routinely releases water to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers.
After floods devastated the area around the lake in the wake of a massive 1928 hurricane that killed 2,500 people, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began regulating lake water levels to minimise the risk of a dike breach.
Now, local officials are citing the lake discharges as the cause of the spreading blooms - although the South Florida Water Management District said that septic tanks and storm water runoff can also play a role
This season's high temperatures and heavy rainfall have only exacerbated the problem.
Florida algae and politics stink like sh . . . ugar
With a state of emergency covering four Florida counties, the stench and slime from toxic blue-green algae blooms in the state are covering the international media. It’s not a sweet sight, but it smells conspicuously like sugar. Big Sugar, to be exact.
Environmental scientists and experts tirelessly point to agricultural pollution and climate change as major contributors to the monster algae epidemic, but, incredulously, Florida’s political leaders just haven’t figured it out.
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Eight manatee deaths reported in Florida lagoon plagued by algae