Catch Big Bass: The late Al Houser, former director of the Oklahoma Fisheries Research Lab, made a remark that’s stuck in my head for 30 years. “The issue isn’t that anglers are oblivious,” he regreted, “it’s that they know a lot of things that just ain’t so.”
Every angler group has its widely held fallacies, maybe none more than bass anglers. That’s perhaps unexpected, given the volume of research directed at black bass. Moreover, magnificently proficient professional anglers frequently provide commentary on fishing and fishery management topics. Yet, regardless of their skills and big winnings, many professional anglers are as guilty as anybody else of clinging to myths. Here’s a choice of strongly held beliefs that simply ain’t so.
Myth # 1: Bass Become Dormant in Cold Water
With the fall season approaching, we’ll undoubtedly hear how bass fishing will be abundant, since fish stock up prior to their long winter of lack of exercise. No doubt fall is a great time to fish, and big fish appear more active. However this shift has as much to do with altered environment and prey motions as with bass seeking their last meal in months.
As poikilothermic animals (blood the very same temperature level as environment), the metabolic systems of fish adapt to temperature level modifications to keep life in the very same conditions they have actually developed in. Members of the sunfish household undergo physiological changes in chemical balances and size of the heart that prepare them for cold. Relative movement of bass decreases and digestion slows, but bass bite well in northern waters as lakes approach the freezing point.
Largemouths strike draws jigged below a hole in the ice and eat big suckers and black eyes set on tip-ups. In northeastern states, much of the most significant bass captured each year come through the ice.
Couple of North Country anglers target bass on frozen lakes, and that might be a good thing from a conservation viewpoint. Inning accordance with Roger Hugill, Minnesota DNR fishery biologist, a contingent of ice anglers sought to obstruct catch-and-release guidelines on a regional lake. The reason, they argued, was that winter season was the best time to capture the bass they wanted to bake, those juicy 5-pounders!
Physiological models suggest that at 40 ° F bass requirement take in just about one 3rd as much food to keep nutrition as they do at 70 ° F. Preyfish abundance is lowest in winter as well. However bass still eat.
In some systems, particularly rivers, bass have the tendency to be sedentary during winter season, mostly since critical habitat is restricted at that time. In lakes and tanks, nevertheless, underwater electronic cameras reveal bass cruising along shallow and deep, typically approaching the cam for a better look.
Myth # 2: Bass Strike Red Hooks Because They Resemble Blood
Producers have rushed to capitalize on the current trend by providing lures with red hooks, red sinkers and blades, red line, even red reel spindles. I’ve heard pros state in seminars that red hooks or a red emphasize can bring in additional bites by imitating the blood of a baitfish, gills, or perhaps a crawfish.
Research studies of bass vision indicate they detect red easily and can discriminate among tones. No research shows, nevertheless, any instinctive destination to it. While anglers may reason that blood is red, bleeding baitfish are vulnerable to attack, so fish should attack items with red markings; bass do not believe like that. They lack the neurological processes to come to any conclusion.
Bass can rapidly learning how to bite what brings a reward, ignore what brings no benefit, and avoid hazardous stimuli. But the idea that bass can associate reddish markings on baitfish with red on artificial lures is far-fetched, according to what we understand about their learning process.
Myth # 3: A Bass is a Bass …
While the majority of knowledgeable anglers recognize the differences in habits, habitat, and victim choice between largemouth and smallmouth bass, numerous accept the expression that largemouths act likewise everywhere you find them.
This phrase might enhance an angler’s confidence when fishing a brand-new body of water but is biologically groundless. The largemouth is usually considered a single species divided into two subspecies, Florida and northern largemouth. But more genetic research studies show variation in the DNA of fish even from close-by watersheds within the exact same state. And distinctions in diet, water color, and cover type likewise make bass from various lakes act differently.
In some, topwater tempts work all summer season while they zero in other lakes. Night-fishing is great some places and a waste of time somewhere else. Tempt color choices can be pronounced also, and feeding and spawning behavior can likewise vary.
Regional experts and guides are tuned to bass behavior and can teach visitors their tricks. For this reason, tournament anglers frequently employ a guide or consult prominent locals when researching for an upcoming competition.
Myth # 4: Modern Livewells Make Fish Care Easy
Gene Gilliland is a veteran bass biologist at the Oklahoma Fishery Research Laboratory in Norman, a center of U.S. bassin’ fervor. Moreover, he’s an accomplished competition angler and fishing market expert. For nearly 20 years, he’s been attempting to teach competition anglers to take much better care of their catch. In 2002, he and Dr. Hal Schramm released Keeping Bass Alive: A Manual for Anglers and Competition Organizers.
Regrettable so many passionate bassers do not like to read, and have for years failed to hearken valuable suggestions that promises to include bonus ounces to tournament tallies and at the very same time conserve bass from postponed death. “When I give seminars on this subject,” Gilliland states, “I still get the comment, ‘Well, how am I expected to know how much air a bass requires?’
” A lot of anglers simply put their catch in a livewell, turn the switch to auto, and ignore them till weigh-in time. While that quantity of aeration may suffice for a modest catch in cool water, limits of bass weighing in the teenagers are oxygen-deprived in 80 ° F + water. Anglers need to take steps to enhance conditions: Run aerators continuously to add fresh water; include ice to lower livewell temperature levels 5 ° F to 8 ° F; or run pure oxygen into the well.”
While today’s bass boats are longer and heavier, lots of models have not significantly increased livewell volume. Some manufacturers are to be commended, nevertheless, for taking fish care seriously, compromising a bit of storage and including aeration features that work.
Deficiencies in livewell design and angler behavior were evident when Bassmaster Elite pros sacked limitations of big bass at Lake Falcon this spring, and both immediate and delayed mortality ran high. TV coverage of competitions frequently exposes pros transferring their first fish in a dry livewell, then turning on the pump. That’s beyond poor handling practice, and less experienced anglers might copy them.
Myth # 5: You Need a Big, Fast Boat to Fish Efficiently
Boat producers and the pro anglers they sponsor in some cases seem to indicate that the craft makes the angler. In reality, it is the angler’s craft, as in being crafty, rather than boat choice that prevails. As in previous times, much of the best bass anglers still use small, underpowered boats.
Small boats are suited to little waters where giant bass dwell, from Florida to Iowa to California. Full-sized bass boats can’t get into crucial shallow zones and have trouble maneuvering through dense wood or vegetation. When they do, the commotion frequently spooks lunkers.
Even on large waters, small, sluggish boats require anglers to decrease and focus on the fish and its environment, always an advantage to excellent catching. Witness the numerous big bass taken by shorebound anglers up to their elbows in the bass’ environment.
Big, quick boats are way cool and magnificent comfortable, allowing us to haul untold numerous bass baits, few which get used in a year, let alone in a day. Even in tournament competitors, I understand anglers who always score high, yet fish from small boats that make them the last man to a provided spot.
Myth # 6: Tournaments Harm Bass Populations
In spite of booming bass fisheries in current decades, this myth refuses to pass away. Anglers and managers opposed to tournaments, for one reason or another, propagate the idea that extreme mortality harms fishing quality. In defense of competitors, one need only check the weights caught at waters fished nonstop by competition rivals for years– Grand Lake, Oklahoma; Kentucky Lake, Kentucky; Lake Seminole, Georgia-Alabama; Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota; and Sam Rayburn, Texas, to name but a few. Catches today generally are as good as they have actually ever been.
Rayburn hosts more than 300 competitions a year and has done so for decades. More than half the anglers there take part in tournaments, according to a current analysis by biologists with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. * That tagging study found tournament death contributed from 1 to 16 percent of overall yearly mortality of the largemouth population, while non-tournament catch-and-release fishing were 2 to 17 percent of the total, and angler harvest (non-tournament) consisted of 16 to 38 percent of annual bass death.
Fishing pressure doubtless makes bass more difficult to capture, but blame can not be put entirely on competitive anglers. All who wield a rod contribute. Social issues have actually constantly been with us, and we can just hope that etiquette, reasonable play, and sportsmanship prevail on the water.
Myth # 7: Bass Abandon Areas Treated with Herbicides
I’m usually instead of herbicide treatments as the next avid basser. I have actually seen habitat damage from chemical applications and am concerned about disease breakouts. However in some circumstances, treatments might be needed for navigation and recreation, as well as for the health of bass populations. Exceedingly thick plant growth limitations bass feeding and cuts the abundance of key preyfish like shad.
Scientific evidence recommends that bass are not negatively impacted by proper application of herbicides. Almost 20 years ago, Dr. Mark Bain and Suzanne Boltz of Auburn University tracked largemouths as herbicides were used to their home areas on Lake Guntersville in Alabama. ** Fish didn’t evacuate as the chemicals were used or as plants dwindled, and collections of bass in treated and untreated areas were similar.
Recently, other Auburn scientists studied the reaction of bass to plant decrease by herbicides at another waterway where treatments have actually been questionable, Lake Seminole on the Georgia-Florida border. The Corps of Engineers treated the Spring Creek arm with fluridone at 6 parts per billion, which reduces hydrilla however is tolerated by most native plants. There, treatments didn’t change bass habits in the short term but, as plants decreased, bass moved into much deeper water and changed habitat from hydrilla flats to standing lumber.
Elimination of hydrilla in smaller sized, shallower coves in another creek arm had contrasting results. Instead of moving much deeper, bass moved shallower into floating and emerging plant life that represented the best environment once hydrilla decreased. In both cases, nevertheless, modifications in fishing technique would be needed to preserve catch rates. During summer, stable environments usually offer the most consistent fishing, and environment changes might temporarily minimize catchability.
In a final experiment, the researchers applied herbicide straight on nesting bass and water onto others, as a control. Bass didn’t desert nests, and reproduction in treated areas resembled that in neglected ones.
Greenery removal should be viewed as a last option by lake managers, but cautious treatments in minimal areas ought to not harm bass fisheries.
Myth # 8: Big Baits Catch Big Bass
This misconception isn’t a misconception. You can increase the typical size of bass caught by utilizing larger lures. But there’s much more to that relationship.
Largemouth bass are a most properly named fish. Endowed with a capacious maw, they eat anything they can capture and engulf– bats, rats, snakes, turtles, clams, birds, and amphibians, plus all sorts of invertebrates and fish.
Researchers have determined the sizes of prey that bass take in. For narrow-bodied, soft-finned victim like shad or trout, bass might eat products approximately half their own length. Wide-bodied, finny victim are chosen at smaller sizes.
Inning accordance with this formula, a thin, 6-inch baitfish is level playing field for a keeper-sized bass. And a 24-inch lunker should not shy from a foot-long preyfish or a swimbait of similar dimensions. So, if you heave 8-inch baits weighing a couple ounces, lunkers aren’t guaranteed, however don’t be surprised by the 16-inch bass assaulting them.
The crucial to capturing huge bass with huge baits is putting them in a susceptible position where big bass live and hunt. Long, main-lake points, user interfaces of deep water and overseas vertical structure, and deep weedlines are a few examples.
Researchers at the University of Arizona, curious about bass found choking on tilapia, carried out experiments to test bass options. Adult bass were provided green sunfish, redear sunfish, and tilapia with body depths around and beyond the maximum size susceptible to attack, inning accordance with calculations. Bass pursued and attacked victim bigger than predicted, frequently choking on them. This result helps describe why at times mini bass attack topwaters, worms, and drifting minnowbaits nearly their own length.
At the other severe, adult bass eat products as little as nearly tiny water fleas (Daphnia), even subsisting on them for months when bigger victim are scarce. Field Editor Ned Kehde is a skill tactician, typically found on Kansas’ hard-fished public impoundments wielding a 1/16- and even 1/32-ounce jighead with a 21⁄2- inch part of a Strike King Zero. He likes action and typically tallies lots of bass in a short getaway. However he frequently represents bass from 3 to nearly 6 pounds on these tiny offerings.
Myth # 9: Catching Nesting Bass is like Picking Cherries
Some anglers look down on sight-fishing for bedding bass as unsporting and unethical, in that it takes advantage of bass at their most susceptible minutes. Rather, it’s a feast-or-famine technique to fishing that’s part of angling custom in many areas. Capturing a bed linen bass can be easy, or it can be so tough regarding approach impossibility.
I hear bass pros rue the fact that they spent a number of hours aiming to lure a bedding lunker to bite, in the end failing and going back to weigh-in without a limitation. Editor In Chief Doug Stange when invested the better part of an afternoon with Florida guide Gene Holbrook trying to capture a huge bass Holbrook had discovered after three days of browsing. The lunker nipped baits, momentarily deserted the nest, and frustrated them for hours, up until a change of lures lastly turned the technique on the 11-pounder.
Sight-fishing is an art, and knowledgeable anglers can check out the habits of a specific bass and determine the likelihood of its capture. It takes years of practice, plus powers of observation, persistence, and gamesmanship to do it well. On the other hand, some bass, especially in gently fished waters, may swim off a bed to eat almost any bait tossed its method. So, when it comes to sight-fishing, if you do not like it, then don’t do it.
Myth # 10: Stocking Florida Bass Improves Lunker Catches
When stocked into semi-tropical environments, Florida bass have the tendency to increase the maximum size of bass there. Consider the cases of California and Texas. Anglers in other places have actually clamored for comparable introductions, cannot value the frailty of these giants in habitats not suited to them.
Florida bass progressed in the main and southern part of that state and are adjusted to conditions there. Outside this native range, cool water (listed below about 50 ° F for prolonged durations) limits their spawning, slows development below that of native bass, and causes high death.
Because Florida bass often generate with native fish, hereditary mixing in subsequent generations is damaging to the physical fitness of the natural population. Geneticists warn against introducing non-native stocks of largemouth bass and other species without extensive evaluation of threats.
Bass myths typically contain a kernel of reality. However when extrapolated to the bigger bass-fishing scene, these sayings limit the complimentary thinking that is very important to effective fishing.
* Driscoll, M. T., J. L. Smith, and R. A. Myers. 2007. Effect of competitions on the largemouth bass population at Sam Rayburn Tank, Texas. N. Am. J. Fish. Mgmt. 27:425 -433.
** Bain, M. B., and S. E. Boltz., 1992. Impact of marine plant control on the microdistribution and population attributes of largemouth bass. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 121: 94-103.
Planting Brushpiles Boosts Bass Populations
For the most parts, brush and other attractors concentrate bass but do little to boost reproduction, lake-wide biomass, or growth. As an outcome, some fishery managers are reluctant to motivate their use, feeling that bass exploitation might rise if catch-and-release rates are low. Attractors can enhance habitat by increasing the surface area offered for invertebrates that feed little fish, however impacts are local, not population-wide.
Huge Bass Live in Deep Water
Huge bass live where living conditions and prey schedule support their bulk. That can be shallow, deep, or in between, depending on available habitat and prey type. In northern lakes, many of the greatest bass of summertime are caught below boat docks in a few feet of water, or within lily-pad beds of similar depth.
Tracking research studies have actually revealed that some huge bass hold on deep structure throughout the day but move into the 10-foot zone to feed after dark. In deep, clear lakes, lunkers might keep in open water, however they’re typically suspended at levels where baitfish are most offered.
Bass Seek Crayfish in Spring for Nutrition Benefits
Crayfish are a preferred bass food anywhere they’re found, and in some cases spring consumption surpasses that of summertime. Crayfish are rather poor food, nevertheless, from the perspective of nutrition. They require significant managing time, both to suppress the clawed animal and to extract the edible portion from its chitinous shell, which amounts to about a third of its overall mass. Low fat material and calorie value also make craws less healthy than most fish. But they’re simple to find and catch, especially in spring when weed growth is thin. In summer season, craws discover shelter in thick weed beds that protect them from bass predation.