Tackle and Tactics
"New stuff about bassing."
I'm always on the lookout for snippets in the scientific press which might have some bearing on fishing. Last week I came across a couple of papers relating to bass. Well, to be honest, one was about our own bass and the other was about the striped bass of the North West Atlantic.
The first was a publication by Nelson from the USA and Claireaux from France. It dealt with 'Sprint Swimming performance' of our own bass. Now in the past there has been a fair bit of research into how fast fish can swim. Of course to some extent swimming speed governs their ability to escape attacks from predators or to lunge after food (or lures). The usual idea is to see whether they are capable of holding their own in strong currents (eg power station inflows). In this case the thrust was to see whether there was much difference between individual fish. I'm always keen to know how fast the fish I catch are able to swim so this seemed likely to give some answers.
In truth the results may be a bit dubious because the test fish were small and were obtained from fourth generation hatchery reared stock so they were probably much less fit than wild bass but it should give some idea of capability. The method used was basically to put the fish in a sophisticated speed measuring tank (a sort of watery 'speed trap') and then to try and grab them by the tail. Not surprisingly the bass shot away from the grabbing hand and their sprint speed was measured. For each fish this was repeated four times at five minute intervals and the best three performances were averaged.
In short, some fish were up to three times quicker than others. This could partly account for the differences in fighting capabilities of the fish we catch. I suppose that ultimately it suggests that it might be possible to breed particularly 'hard fighting' strains of fish (trout might be an easier proposition than bass in this regard).
The second paper was written by four american scientists who studied the prey preferences of striped bass off the coast of North Carolina. Even though these fish do not occur in our waters there are one or two hints that might be useful to the bass angler. Striped bass ate quite a range of other fish species - menhaden, silversides, shads, anchovys and perch - to name a few. Fish of all sizes were predators mainly on other fish. Even big bass would eat the smallest prey fish if they had the chance but the maximum size of prey was greater for bigger bass. (Big lures avoid smaller bass?).
The larger the bass the more it preferred to eat shad and the less it ate menhaden and perch. All the fish tended to avoid eating spiny finned fish if they could. Interesting eh! Next time a bass drops your bait it's just possibly because it felt the point of the hook - perhaps another good reason to use circle hooks?
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New stuff about bassing.