Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Do Fish Learn? Yes.

I read something today for a class that I think is worth sharing and discussing.

“Fourth, the alarm signal functions as a learned response. Fathead minnows learn to recognize a predator when alarm substance occurs with the sighting of an unfamiliar fish. European minnows develop a fright response to pike if exposed to alarm pheromone and pike simultaneously. This learned response, which is specific to the predatory species used in conditioning, not just to any large fish, is retained for at least sixty-nine days. The specificity of this response is adaptive because reacting to any large fish as if it were a predator would waste energy and lessen feeding time” (Constantz, 84).

The passage discusses an alarm pheromone released by certain minnow that other minnows can detect. It interests me for two reasons, one that I’m too lazy to research and another that could apply directly to our on the water approach. One- a similar pheromone might exist for bass. Two- minnows, and maybe bass, can remember fine details for 69+ days.

If a similar pheromone exists for bass then quickly cranking them out from a school is potentially key. Also, releasing bass back into an area you are fishing might be bad. Of course, that isn’t an option if you are tournament fishing (and have 5 already). That said, I imagine there is some research that will prove or disprove that in relation to bass.

Second, the fact that these little dudes can remember slight differences in predatory fish makes me think bass can probably do the same for baits. Now bass undoubtedly react to baits in their face and I doubt they can learn (at least perfectly) to not react. But they can almost certainly learn to not eat things. Like Alabama Rigs. Or finesse worms.

I’ve experimented on my pond with a variety of identical finesse worms in different colors. I have found that bass will eat the same worm in a different color in under a week. It takes them longer to eat the exactly the same worm again. And it takes them even longer to eat a spinnerbait again. 


“Hollows, Peepers & Highlanders, An Appalachian Mountain Ecology,” George Constantz, 2004, West Virginia University Press.

Monday, January 30, 2012

King Fisher Society

We fished at King Fisher Society Sunday. We had a ball and got lots of footage that will hopefully turn into a great Match Fishing show.

The fish bit square-bills, jigs, and Devil Spears. Also, I caught blank pounds with 4 fish in an hour and a half.

You might say "why is this post so short?" It's called a teaser. Watch the show when we put it all together.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Match Fishing

This fall Ryan Casey (of the Wake Forest Fishing Club) and I had the idea to create some College Match Fishing. After some planning and a few false starts we are about to embark on the first filming expedition. Sunday, Ryan and I and some others from Wake and the Virginia Tech Bass Fishing Team will be down at the King Fisher Society ponds to shoot between 1 and 3 shows. 

We are borrowing all the equipment from the Virginia Tech Innovation Space

Monday, January 23, 2012

Alabama Rig Banned

B.A.S.S. recently announced that the Alabama Rig (a castable umbrella rig) is not legal in the Classic or the Elite Series. B.A.S.S. also eliminated double lure rigs like topwaters with front-runners and double flukes. You can read the full decision here.

Before I offer my opinion I encourage you to read several other pieces to shed some light on the issue. Tyler Brinks wrote a succinct summary of the ban and offered an opinion. Eugene Chong also opined on the issue and I believe he is largely correct. Finally, one of my favorite blogs, Kramer Gone Fishing wrote an excellent piece and also participated in an illuminating comments section. Also, you can read this for a look at the impact the Alabama Rig is having on the tackle industry. Or just go to TackleWarehouse.com and see that 4+ different swimbaits and jig heads have been in the Top Sellers since the advent of the A-Rig. For a look at what the pros think read this.

B.A.S.S.'s decision puzzles me. I told them so and they responded. I'm still puzzled.

B.A.S.S. seems to have decided that the Alabama Rig is somehow unsporting. And I'm fine if they think that. Every sport has rules. What I don't like about the decision is the somewhat condescending tone it takes. A number of the pros seem to believe the Alabama Rig catches fish no-matter what. It doesn't. I know from personal experience. If it did, I would have caught 20 pounds on SML and 50 fish per day on Norman. I didn't. This decision seems to draw a line that is more than just a rule. It seems to draw another line between the pros and regular fishermen. It makes a lot of the Elites sound lazy- they just don't want to learn another technique.

I also believe that because B.A.S.S. has a responsibility to the fishing industry, they will never ban the rig entirely. At least not until something forces their hand. Castable umbrella rigs are making some serious money right now.

Dad and I used to fish in a tournament that allowed trolling. We perfected trolling plastics and won it a number of times. Then they changed the rules. So, we started to win it by casting. I think that the cream will rise regardless and the Elites shouldn't need this protectionist rule.

All that said, I think this decision is likely to be good for the long term health of the fisheries. It ought to at least prevent a certain amount of fish injury. And, I can sympathize with the "one rod, one bait" ideal as well. And  I don't think heading that direction is bad for the sport. I just wish that B.A.S.S.  had extended the decision beyond the Elites, all the way down to the Weekend Series and the Federation.

FLW is undoubtedly taking the wiser course here. A wait and see approach is preferable to a fragmented, reactionary policy.

Finally, you can read my position on the Alabama Rig here.

High Water

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I Love This Picture.

One of those is actually my current PB.
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Thursday, January 12, 2012


The brakes are finally fixed and I'm ready to hit Norman for a few days with Sean Dougherty. Hopefully we can find a few areas for February's VT Bass Fishing Club Tournament. And more importantly just get a sense of a lake that I've fished for 2 days in my life. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Search for Walleye

I hate writing about not catching fish. If something interesting happened that makes a difference for sure. But when you just go out and catch perch and no walleye that isn’t what I’d call a success. Because as much fun as it is to catch fish, I like catching big fish. One nice pickerel on a tip-up is worth more to me than twelve medium sized perch on a jig rod.

Before I delve into the actual trip (and some other stuff) I’d like to say that I found the In-Fisherman Ice Fishing Secrets book to be very helpful as well as Chad Leton, Zach Taeschler (who's name I can now spell correctly first try), and Ken Truffen. Their advice was unquantifiable (because I didn’t catch anything) but, I think it was quite good.

Anywho, we bought bait and donuts at 5:30 and were at Chittenden Dam and on the ice by about 6:45. We punched holes and set tip-ups on two different humps near the dam. And caught a bunch of little perch while ground fog slowly covered the ice. Once it cleared we moved. The sun was well up and no walleye had showed themselves.

Our next spot was a point with some current and shade. We spread out more tip-ups and jigging holes and caught more perch (with a few decent ones mixed in this time). Still no walleye. I caught a log though.

We moved again. Across the lake to a flat between some points. We found a bunch of quality perch and again no walleye. But we stayed and cooked venison and caught keeper size perch.

Dad and I finished out the evening back on the hump. It seemed so perfect. But alas, it was barren. So, as night fell around us we trudged back to the parking lot with our headlamps on and concluded another season on the ice.

I’ll be down on Norman for a few days this weekend. I’ll put my new Orra S thought its paces and try out NanoFil on some flukes. And of course I should be able to fish a drop-shot and a jerkbait- two of my favorite techniques. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Decision Time

Over on the Google+ I asked for some post ideas. As it happened I was surprised by the result. However, it did give me an idea. I’m now going to write about the most haunting, most re-thought, decision of my 2011 season.

Last June Billy and I fished an NETB on Lake George. We found a spot that held quality fish in practice. We caught an extremely rare Lake George 4 pounder. So; pre-tournament we were crazily optimistic.

We eased into the spot after about an hour of fruitless dock fishing and caught 4 fish within about 4 hours. Two of them were really good. One was 3 pounder good (12 pounds on LG gets you top-10, 15 pounds gets you top-2).

And then it died. We kept fishing it, hoping for one more fish. Then we set a deadline and left after we hadn’t caught anything else. We ran to a spot that almost guaranteed a decent 5th fish. We got it.

One more upgrade would put us in the money for sure. We decided to run back to our 4 fish spot (keep in mind, these are 15 mile runs). The other option was another spot from pre-fish with no prior history (like our premier spot).

We fished it for another hour. There wouldn’t have been time to fish both places. We struck out. We missed money by about 2 ounces.

Hindsight being 20/20 we should have gone to the other spot. And normally my hindsight is good enough that I can clearly see what we should have done. But to be honest, I might do the same thing over again.  I suppose the lesson is to pre-fish more. Another day of pre-fish (separated from the others) would have easily confirmed my decision one way or the other. I also can’t shake the idea that if I’d been fishing Gulp! Leaches back then we might have been able to scratch an upgrade from our original spot- or maybe even a fifth fish to begin with. But it’s haunting things like this that keep us coming back.

If you know what I should have done please tell me in the comments below.

Our eventual 5. 


I got published by someone other than myself! The Reel Guys saw fit to publish an article I wrote for them. You can read it here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sugar Bowl

I couldn't fit this all on twitter.

Per tonight's game: I'm conflicted. I can see all the negativity inspiring a "nobody believed in us" mentality and a win. But, I think Beamer has had trouble motivating his players at times (this year especially- Duke) and the whole break has seemed somewhat blighted to me. So I can see us totally laying an egg too. So please, Hokies prove my doubts wrong. If not, I hope Logan Thomas at least trucks a few people for my viewing pleasure.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Silver Lake

I hit the ice with Ben Cayer of the Vermont Tech Bass Fishing Team today (and Matt and Reed). I got in late on the action but we did pretty well overall. Ben and his dad took home a limit of perch each (50). Ben had a slightly heavier jig that was smoking them (tipped with a maggot). My lighter jig and heavier Swedish Pimple didn't go over so well. But, I borrowed my way into a few fish and a fun time on the ice. 

Also of note; we had a ball with the underwater camera (until Reed accidentally let the battery slip into the hole and 30 feet to the bottom). Watching perch bunch up on the bait was amazing. And you could often see them take the bait even though you couldn't feel the bite. It was also great to watch how they reacted to the different motions of the jig.