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Why they strike artificials

We have learned a great deal about bass fishing in recent history, but we can still go out with the best equipment, do all the "right things" and still not see a fish -- much less catch one. Fishing deflates more big egos than any other sport. You either catch them or you don't. There's no in-between.


Itís amazing that in spite of all the research and studies done on bass, the average angler's catching average is still way down. It's that kind of sport.

Besides heredity, I think thereís another cause of baldness in male bass anglers, Itís from all the head scratching that goes on when searching for that elusive fish.

Ever wonder why bass strike at something? Why would a bass hit an artificial lure? Some lures look like natural food, but most have little resemblance to anything normally found in the water. Yet, bass are attracted to and will strike bits of plastic, wood and metal with hooks attached.

Why? Are they dumb, or just so hungry they don't care? What makes them tick?

5 senses, plus 1
Largemouth bass have the five major senses common to most animals: hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch.

They also have another sense, the lateral line, which is a series of sensitive nerve endings that extends from just behind the gill to the tail on each side of the fish. The lateral line can pick up underwater vibrations as subtle as a swimming baitfish. This allows the fish to detect something in the murkiest water.

Bass hear with internal ears located within the skull. When they hear something familiar and interesting, they zone in on it. But, a loud, unfamiliar sound will have them swimming for deeper water or cover.

Bass can see in all directions, except directly below or behind. Experts say that in clear water bass can see 30 feet or more. In most bass waters, though, their visibility is limited to 5 to 10 feet. And, as you may know, they can also see objects that are above the water. Sometimes when blind-casting into an area, you will see the swirls of fish taking off even before your lure hits the water. They see it coming and they are out of there.

The eye of a bass absorbs more light than does the human eye. This enables bass to see their food in dim light or darkness. They will feed any time of day or night, but experts say they are less inclined to leave cover and search for food in bright conditions. Bass like shade and low-light conditions -- the better to ambush prey.

Smell is not a real big deal with bass, as compared to catfish, trout and such. They smell through nostrils located on their snout. Water is drawn through the nostrils and expelled without entering the throat. Experts say, like most fish, bass can detect minute amounts of scent in the water.

Bass use their sense of touch to determine whether to reject or swallow an object. They will normally hold on to a soft-bodied, plastic worm longer than a metal lure.

There was a sequence in the original video, "Bigmouth," that floored me. An angler cast out a crankbait and was reeling it in with a slow, but steady, movement. An underwater camera captured an amazing thing: A largemouth bass inhaled the lure and spit it out so quickly the angler never knew it happened. The flow of the line was never interrupted as the angler kept reeling the lure back to the boat.

As for the sense of taste, bass have few taste cells in their mouths and this sense is not as important to them as to some other species of fish.

6 reasons drive urge to strike
Okay, now back to our main question. What causes a fish to bite? Some fisheries scientists have come up with six reasons why bass strike lures:
An important thing to remember: As the water warms, the metabolism of bass increases and they feed more. Fish feed most actively in water temperatures ranging from 68 to 80 degrees F. -- Story by Marvin Spivey