The sport of bass fishing lives as a staple and a pastime for many families and communities. According to united states fishing national survey taken in 2011, up to 33.1 Americans participated in some sort of activity related to fishing. This will range from a father and son fishing in a local pond to a team of professional fishers who’s livelihoods rely on the fish they catch. What sets these people apart is the ability to use science in order to understand the fishes’ habits. A common misconception about fishing is that you can be effective by just throwing a chunk of meat into an area and hoping to get bit. While this will sometimes work, the actual truth is much more complex.
There are many different forms of data that bass anglers will use in order to catch fish, but really the most useful is trial and error. This is used from the very moment you catch your first fish. Imagine you throw a swim bait into an area with rocks and catch a fish, then come back the next time at the same time and same location and catch another fish. You have now just used data to formulate a plan. You now understand that that specific tactic will produce a fish at a certain time of day. This is what bass anglers know as Confidence lures, the ability to throw a specific bait into an area and using previous knowledge and understanding to in terms “guarantee” a bite. Now, there is really no such thing as a guaranteed bite, however; confidence lures give the impression of a guarantee. For instance, I know that if I throw a craw fish imitation lure into any wood pile on any lake that I can catch a fish. Is this really guaranteed? No. However through trial and error, I have discovered that the likelihood of catching a fish in wood with a jig is much higher than the likelihood of catch a fish on a swim jig. It differs for every bass fisher, but no matter who you ask, everyone has that confidence lure they can always go to.
Another factor anglers use when formulating a plan is the time of year. This is the understanding of weather patterns and how it affects the eating habits of a bass. A common misconception is that bass will act the same way throughout the year. This is very untrue. Even on the smallest of lakes, bass will migrate to different areas of the water trying to locate bait fish to eat. This migration depends on two factors: water temperature and dissolved oxygen. These factors directly relate to the activity of a fish. The graph seen in this study shows how temperature affects D.O. The colder the water, the less oxygen is available for aquatic life. In terms of bass fishing, the colder the water gets, the less active the fish will be. Because of this, fish will look for warmer water. Bass anglers use this understanding when developing a plan. For example, where during the summer I may throw a jig into deep structure, during the fall I will throw a swim bait into shallow water in order to target fish chasing shad (a common bait fish). Anglers have to use this cycle in order make a detailed decision for their lure selection. The factors of D.O, time of year, and their own history of confidence lures in order to make the choice of either throwing a jig or a swim bait.
The science in bass fishing is very real. What makes it unique from any other scientific understanding is the ability to personalize discovery. Individuals will use a wide umbrella of facts (ex. weather, D.O., and bait migration) and then use past history to find confident baits. Like anything, chance is a factor. Sometimes you will catch fish, sometimes you won’t. What sets you apart is the ability to learn from these days. Days where you don’t catch fish can be just as important as days you do, for then you can analyze what went wrong and what you need to adjust. This ability to understand this science of fishing is what sets the average apart from the elite.