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.