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Three Things I Don't Know About Fishing

Blog by: Lloyd Tackitt , Texas 3/9/2014

Every year I learn more about fishing, and forget some too.  But also every year there are three major mysteries about fishing that remain mysteries to me.  I guess these particular mysteries always will remain mysteries, at least for me.

I'll start by throwing out the big word - anthropomorphism.  Webster defines it:  an interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics :

Another way of saying it is that we humans tend to falsely find or attribute human tendencies to fish behavior.  And to other things also (like cars), but in this case we'll stick to fish.  The reason I bring this up is because we sometimes do this in order to provide a motive for what otherwise seems inexplicable behavior of fish, and it's a false way of explaining.  Number one mystery will provide an example.

1.  Why do fish strike lures that neither look anything like a natural part of their ecosystem, or acts like a natural part of their ecosystem.  For instance bass will often hit a large fluorescent yellow spinner bait that is being pulled through the water at hyper-speed.  They will, and they'll do it often enough that these spinner baits are some of the all time best fish catchers.  But why?  What in the world does a bass think that thing is?  It looks absolutely nothing like anything the bass normally feeds on, or even like anything that ever co-existed with bass in a pond, river, or lake - at any time in the history of the earth.  And that buzzing flashing speed demon is ripping through the water at such a fast rate that it bulges the water up in front of it.   Why would a bass attack that instead of running away from it?  And I'm not just talking about spawning bass protecting their beds.  One of the answers I frequently see being propounded is that the buzz bait or spinner bait makes the bass angry.  That is anthropomorphisizing.  We assume it makes them angry because it sort of makes sense out of the mystery.  But do fish get angry?  If they get angry is it an anger that is anything like human anger?  To me this remains a mystery and I don't believe that saying these types of weird-ass lures makes fish angry solves the mystery.  So why do fish try to eat things that to us would look like a weird alien space being suddenly showing up at the front door?  If some truly bizarrely acting thing showed up at my front door, well eating it would not be high on my list of potentially useful reactions.  By the way, my questioning a fish's motives for attacking something weird is also anthropomorphisizing the fish's behavior.  Just can't win with that one.

2.  Why do fish change their feeding behavior before, during, and after a storm front?  Most folks say it's the barometric pressure change.  I don't buy that.  Even in shallow water a fish can move up or down about an inch and make up all the difference in the barometric pressure change that happens in a typical storm.  In a hurricane the fish might have to move up or down four inches.  Fish move up and down this much all the time, so why would a tiny change in air pressure affect them?  I'm more of the opinion that we should be looking at magnetic changes, but there is a definite lack of scientific studies where fish and magnetism and weather are concerned.  We have learned that all fish contain magnetite in their bodies and that many fish use the earth's magnetic fields for navigation.  But we don't know much more than that.

3.  If hunger was the only motivation for fish taking a bait, either artificial or natural, then fishing would be pretty simple.  But I've seen many instances where fish that should have been hungry ignored perfectly presented bait.  Where at least some of the fish should have been hungry just on the law of averages and all of the fish ignored the bait.  Swam right by the bait, even nudged it out of the way.  I bet you've seen it too.  So if it isn't just hunger that causes them to feed, what else is involved?   

There are other mysteries, but these are the main three that I think about.  What's yours?

Blog content © Lloyd Tackitt
Blog Comments
Gill, CO   3/9/2014 12:53:30 PM
I have one...When ice fishing,how does a a fish know when you have finally set that rod down so he can smash your bait/lure.....ha..
Dave Mauldin, TX   3/9/2014 8:36:32 PM
Don't know about what we don't know. do three things: rest, eat, and procreate once per year. So, except for the spawn, the first two. ....a girl friend once said: "Either they are hungry or they are not" She was not a person who fished.
Catman1979, CO   3/9/2014 11:53:09 PM
Good read. I still have yet to figure out why fish always hammer my bait as I am halfway through my sandwich? I have lost a lot of sandwich's due to that. It' a tough one, the why/where/what's. Once I get heavy into my cat fishing season it's a lot of thinking, constantly. I look at maps, my log books, it never ends. To this day I have no idea why channel cats eat one bait today, and change to another the next. And I am sure, I will never know.
skiman, CO   3/10/2014 6:13:15 AM
Lloyd, My answer to your three questions, and countless others I'm sure is this... "It is what it is!" Light up that cigar, take a sip of that nice, brown liquid...and when you're good and relaxed, just go fishing! As long as you know it will happen or not happen, that's all that matters, Good Fishing! Ski
Dangly, CO   3/10/2014 8:27:50 AM
I believe that the new way of saying "it makes them angry" is "Reaction strike" my cats used to strike at gym socks if i pulled it by them at a fast pace, Cats are predators, just like fish, and furthermore they hunt alot like fish do, sometimes stalking, sometimes ambushing, a predator instinctivly hits things that are trying to get away.
Coyute, CO   3/10/2014 8:42:47 AM
Happenings that are unexplainable are the most interesting to me. Some people think the notion of a dog smiling is ridiculous but I have seen many dogs smile and I smile back.
Trout Charmer, CO   3/10/2014 10:39:34 AM
Ha Coyute! My dog smiles. People always look at me like I'm crazy but he does! And he's a big dog so it makes people nervous when they actually see it lol! Any ways good write up! I've pondered these very same topics.
Lloyd Tackitt (Lloyd Tackitt), TX   3/10/2014 11:23:48 AM
There's nothing unusual about a dog smiling. it's when they bust out laughing that you need to put the cap back on the bottle.
Coyute, CO   3/10/2014 12:02:41 PM
Good point. :)
skiman, CO   3/10/2014 12:29:38 PM
Especially when the dog rolls on the floor and pees on the rug! wait a minute, that happens when the bottle's empty!
Bassackwards, CO   3/10/2014 12:58:41 PM
I have a dog that likes to catch frisbees, been that way since the first time my wife and I were playing and she joined in. She is a herding dog, so why chase a frisbee or a's the predatory reflex that takes over. We think..... animals are instinctive, we as humans have learned to ignore our instincts, so we don't get it when a bass strikes at lure one day and the next the lure remains untouched. If something is running from a predator there is a reason, and the bass wants to know why he is running so fast and it must be a good reason. Barometric pressure affect more than just predators, if the food chain remain dormant from high pressure it works it's way to top predators and they see no movement of bait and respond as well. Thats just my opinion. For your third question, mature bass are for the most part territorial, so when something comes into their area that might cause a threat, they will meet the challenger and sometimes get hooked in the process. These are just my opinions, I am no animal behavior specialist. I still scratch my head when I cloobered them yesterday and today....crickets. I will say keeping a journal might give you an insight to a pattern.
Bassackwards, CO   3/10/2014 1:01:18 PM
Oh yeah, my pooch smiles a lot. She's one crazy dog. And yes I too smile back.
Dave Mauldin, TX   3/10/2014 7:44:51 PM
previous commenter is on to something: Mature bass being territorial. My two biggest bass of my life were caught by fishing a big bait in a specific spot in a 160,000 acre lake. I knew they lived on this spot, and left the bait there longer than I have ever left a bait sit still. Caught those two 12#'ers in one spot, in back to back fishing trips.