Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Conditioned fish...

When it's too hot to go fishing, why not sit inside and watch fishing shows right? Ha ha! Seriously though...it has been really hot lately. But in all truthfulness, has it ever gotten too hot to go fishing?

All joking aside, I have been doing some fishing recently in spite of the heat... But, I have also spent my share of time sitting at home in the A/C watching the TV as well. I have seen some great fishing shows lately too--one in particular sticks out in my mind.

It was an episode done by the Linders of "Angling Edge." The subject of the show was focused on something that I find quite interesting--"conditioned fish." If you have been fishing long enough, you surely know what I am talking about. Conditioned fish are those fish in a certain spot (i.e. river, lake, stream, ocean) that continue to see the same lures (or bait) over and over again, and eventually become conditioned to not bite those certain lures.

My first lessons in dealing with conditioned fish came when I was a kid--fishing in the farm pond across the street from my parents house. Back then, whenever I got a new lure, the first thing I would do is take it over to the pond. Generally I found that on my first couple of trips over there the fish would absolutely crush my new lure... even if it was something crazy that did not resemble any of the natural food the bass in that pond were eating. They simply ate it because it was interesting and they had never seen it before. It triggered a positive response.

Fast forward a couple of weeks--after I had caught practically every bass in that pond with my newly discovered lure--my bites would go way down. I could still catch a few fish, but the action was nothing like it was when none of the fish in the pond had ever seen that type of lure before. My lure was now triggering a different type of response.

So, why am I typing all of this...? And why do I find it interesting? Because, in one way or another, you and I are dealing with conditioned fish in practically every angling venue that we face. Sure the fish on your 250 acre local lake might not be conditioned to the same degree that the fish were at my neighbors farm pond, but I think you get the picture.

Through the years I have seen fish become conditioned to different degrees in streams, lakes, rivers and even in saltwater. The different degrees to which fish actually become conditioned I would consider short term and some long term. Obviously, the smaller the body of water and the higher the fishing pressure the more likely fish are to become conditioned (long term) to ignoring our lures... Likewise the larger and less pressured a body of water is, the less likely fish will become conditioned to our lures. Also, we must consider that fish biology comes to play in this as well. Some species of fish, and some individual fish within a certain population, are just more likely to bite than others.

Moving on, you might ask what is the solution to dealing with conditioned fish. The Linders answer that question on their TV show, and I think they are right on the money... In my opinion (and the Linders'), the answer is quite obvious--show them something different! It doesn't have to be something radically different from the norm, but maybe just slightly different. A smaller or larger version of a lure that you are familiar with and is known to work, or something with a slight variation in color or shape. A change in retrieve of an already familiar lure is something else worth a try. Sometimes the smallest difference can change what would have been a negative response to a lure into a positive one.

I've been spending some time fishing larger lures lately, and I have been impressed (actually almost stunned really) at some of the baits that largemouth bass will actually hit. I have had musky lures that are larger than what I would have even considered to be bass tackle, getting clobbered by small and medium sized bass... Not even big bass. Why? Because these lures are different, and the fish haven't been conditioned to stay away from them yet.

So, the next time you get out fishing, think about the water you are on... Think about how you fish it. Think about how others fish it. Then consider how the fish in your body of water may be conditioned to react to your lures. If you are already doing great, that's awesome! If not, maybe this will help. Until next time, thanks again for reading and good luck staying cool... Maybe I'll see you on the water.

1 comment:

  1. Toby, so true...I'm always thinking about this on heavily pressured stretches of the rivers I fish. Different lures..different presentations...it's all part of the game!

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