Jump to content
FCPhil

Are big* bass smarter or just rare?

Recommended Posts

This past year I caught 82 bass over a pound (I’m shorebound) including my PB which was 5lb 7oz. My next biggest of the year was 3-14 followed by a few more 3’s. 

 

These numbers got me thinking, are larger bass really smarter/harder to catch, or are the just rare? It seems possible where I fish that a 5 pounder is simply a 1 out of 82 fish. (*I realize big is a relative term depending where you fish). 

 

Typically I have assumed larger bass were more difficult to catch for one of the following reasons:

1. They have learned over years of being caught and released to avoid lures (but I have heard studies show they have very little ability to reason like this). 

2. Their temperament is less aggressive so they are less likely to be caught and live longer (but then it seems they would be out-competed for food). 

3. They have happened to choose to inhabit areas of the lake that not fished as often (seems to only apply for bank fishing). 

 

On the other hand, if large fish are just rare, not harder to catch, why are they more vulnerable in the pre-spawn and fall when they feeding drive is heightened, and less likely to be caught other times of the year like smaller bass?

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It depends on where your fishing. 😉 Big fish could be rare to common. In Most waters I would say less common, but not rare.

They are smarter, just like any other living thing thats been around awhile.

Animals are easier to catch/hunt when their attention is distracted from caution to food and breeding. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't say they are smarter, but they are definitely conditioned to their surroundings.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lots of fisherman won't put in the time needed to learn the location of big bass. To me, this is the main reason fewer are caught. Location is the key.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Put me squarely on the rarer column. 

 

"On the other hand, if large fish are just rare, not harder to catch, why are they more vulnerable in the pre-spawn and fall when they feeding drive is heightened, and less likely to be caught other times of the year like smaller bass?"

 

I know this is a crazy idea, but maybe because they are concentrated in predictable areas which are easily targeted and accessible to more anglers from both boat and shore, not to mention the increased metabolism from rising h2o temps, and in the case of males the GNC effect...... Nah, they just get dumber....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

#1 what body of water?

#2 define big?

 

Take your 5# bass, here on Toledo Bend a 25# tournament sack normal. Some bodies of water down here 12-15# sacks are big.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you fish a place with more big bass, they won't be as "smart". But I believe big bass in a place with a lot of smaller bass, that sees a good bit of pressure are more well-educated. Add to this that most people don't keep any bass anymore and you get bass that have seen or fallen for several different artificials. Even a worm can learn from negative experiences.

 

How rare they are depends on where you're fishing. And "big" is a relative term. In a place where 5 lb. catches are common, "big" takes on a different meaning.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to Keith Jones in his book “Knowing Bass,” as bass grow their visual and lateral line sensory systems likely improve.

 

Smarter? Well that’s a hard thing to measure, but more sensitive/aware of their environment, probably.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can say one thing with 100 percent certainty: a big bass is much more capable of pulling loose, jumping off, or breaking your line. Therefore they are captured less frequently

  • Like 3
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The biggest bass in any River, lake or pond will always be the fewest number of bass.

The problem the big bass faces growing in public waters is being aggressive enough to eat enough prey or out compete other smaller bass without getting caught and killed.

If a bass doesn't have the ability to aviod being caught it will not survive, so most big bass aviod anglers.

Being shore bond reduces where you can fish. The one seasonal period where big femal bass are the most volnerable is during the spawn and shore anglers can easily locate them. The fact these bass are focused on spawning they are no longer wary.

When the big female bass is done with the spawn it's back to survival and avoiding being caught.

Tom

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If natural selection actually occurs, we should all practice catch and release, so all the stupid fish that eat plastic and rubber with metal on it multiply. If we kill all the dumb ones, then we’ll be left with fish that are smarter, have better eyesight, sense of vibration and everything else that makes them harder to catch.

  • Haha 1
  • Confused 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A basses brain is small...

1759753645_bassbrain.jpg.20d60a6c3ebe0bdde02ca6c87eb2fe56.jpg

meaning it only has a few functions. Reasoning isn't one of them. You can't teach them algebra or philosophy or even the fact that Tiger Wood's career in golf is pretty much over, he'll never win another major tournament and he should just retire and enjoy the billion dollars he has. But I digress. A fishes brain is for only eating and making little fishes. He has no inclination to learn not to hit certain lures or be educated in the ways of us anglers. And I think we are better for this. 

  • Like 2
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, FCPhil said:

Are big* bass smarter or ...?

Despite a brain the size of a lima bean, they are unquestionably smarter than I 

  • Like 1
  • Haha 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Catt said:

#1 what body of water?

#2 define big?

 

Take your 5# bass, here on Toledo Bend a 25# tournament sack normal. Some bodies of water down here 12-15# sacks are big.

I assume what makes a 5# bass difficult to catch in my waters, and what makes a #10 bass difficult to catch in other waters is the same. Maybe it’s different though...

3 hours ago, reason said:

Put me squarely on the rarer column. 

 

"On the other hand, if large fish are just rare, not harder to catch, why are they more vulnerable in the pre-spawn and fall when they feeding drive is heightened, and less likely to be caught other times of the year like smaller bass?"

 

I know this is a crazy idea, but maybe because they are concentrated in predictable areas which are easily targeted and accessible to more anglers from both boat and shore, not to mention the increased metabolism from rising h2o temps, and in the case of males the GNC effect...... Nah, they just get dumber....

I would expect larger bass have to eat much more, which should actually work in our favor, making them more likely to be caught if they are eating more prey. The fact they are not caught as often seems to suggest they do avoid lures, despite hunting more food. Maybe they just eat bigger prey?

 

At this point I’m leaning that both are a factor. It seems like if large bass were only rare, they would make up an equal percentage of catches year round. But in my experience, they are by far most likely to be caught in the pre-spawn and Fall. During the post-spawn, I catch the majority of my fish because they are concentrated by the spawning bluegills on the bank, but none of them are the truly big ones for my water. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Gundog said:

A basses brain is small...

1759753645_bassbrain.jpg.20d60a6c3ebe0bdde02ca6c87eb2fe56.jpg

meaning it only has a few functions. Reasoning isn't one of them. You can't teach them algebra or philosophy or even the fact that Tiger Wood's career in golf is pretty much over, he'll never win another major tournament and he should just retire and enjoy the billion dollars he has. But I digress. A fishes brain is for only eating and making little fishes. He has no inclination to learn not to hit certain lures or be educated in the ways of us anglers. And I think we are better for this. 

 

Some have went as far as putting them on an unreachable throne!

 

Some even say bass evolve but seldom mention so has the angler!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, FCPhil said:

I would expect larger bass have to eat much more, which should actually work in our favor, making them more likely to be caught if they are eating more prey. The fact they are not caught as often seems to suggest they do avoid lures, despite hunting more food. Maybe they just eat bigger prey?

Yes, they eat more, and they eat larger prey, so that math is almost a wash. There is just a lot less larger fish than smaller fish. There is a lot of scientific papers on fish reproduction, survival, distribution and other related subjects. Follow a YOY brood, and one can see that the catch per unit effort by sizes makes perfect sense without imagining that fish somehow get "smart" as they grow. Unlike some mammals whose survival strategy is have few (or one) off spring at a time and spend enormous time and energy ensuring it's survival, most fish do the exact opposite (except in the TVAs) where they start out with a bizillion (poetic license) off spring, and set them off to the cruel world, where mortality rates start out crazy high (technical term) and taper off somewhat as they grow. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Up in the north east, a 5#er sure does feel rare unless you're fishing for smallies at the reservoir. So they're either very smart or just few and far between. I catch plenty of 2-3# bass but haven't got anything near 5#. Maybe this year? Lol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Are big bass smarter or just rare?

Interesting topic and one that's been discussed & debated here in the past.

The past responses and the recent ones here, do seem similar & perhaps split 50/50.

 My version may not be much different.

First, I'm not exactly sure what we're calling 'a big bass', but for the sake of this discussion, I'll use whatever the 'Master Angler' size bass is in a particular state as a guide.

   So in my own fishing, there are way more opportunities / locations locally, that are home to that caliber of Smallmouth than Largemouth.  And I have been fortunate enough to catch a few of both.  The Bigger brown bass I can catch here in MI and the bigger Green bass I travel south of the border to catch. 

  So in my earlier years of angling, when I had considerably less experience than I do now, I thought Big Bass Were Super Rare and just had to be Very Smart, mostly because I never caught any, ever.   Now granted I fish quite a bit from shore or from a small row boat or canoe but either way, a 3 pound fish was a monster back them.  

   As my bass fishing horizons began to broaden, I started to look at this deal a little differently.  Once I was able to put more time on the water, in places that had bigger fish in them, I started catching bigger bass.  While I wasn't doing a whole lot different, I was just in more fertile lakes & I was able to cover more water.   

 So this seemed to indicate to me that Big Bass might not necessarily be smarter per se, but do seem to make up a much smaller percentage of the total population.  

   More time on the water has also taught me the importance of timing, when it comes to catching the bigger bass.  Other than the actual spawn, consistently finding, feeding big bass, is about as hard as it gets when it comes to bass fishing IMO.  However, the more big bass there are in an environment, the better chances I had.  Seems simple but when looking to put the odds in ones favor, it's something that really can not be ignored.  

  So if we do the right thing, at the right place and at the right time, as much as we can - it stands to reason that we'll catch some big bass.   But it's So Random.  Sometimes it happens right away and over & over again.  Other times, not so much.  In fact, it takes so long that we think it might never happen - but you can't give up. 

 

  So all that said, are big bass smarter or just super rare.  My response is, it depends.  I think it can be both and neither.

 In some places they can be rare, other places not so much.  Some bass can be warier than others as well.  But wary, is a relative term.  In my mind, any & every bass, regardless of size, can be caught, giving the right circumstances (and I'm excluding the spawn).  

 

 I've said this before and do believe it to be true.  Put an average angler, willing fish hard & put time in, on an above average body of water, and you'll be surprised at what can happen.  

 

:smiley:

A-Jay

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have witnessed bass behavior change with fishing pressure . They may not have the ability to reason but it seems  they can react negatively to being caught . They are of course rarer . There is only one biggest bass in the pond and a bizillion little ones .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Population density is everything, can't catch a 10 lb bass where they don't live. Let's say for discussion your lake has 0 bass over 10 lbs your odds catching it is 0. Your lake has 1 bass 7 lbs and 5,000 bass under 7 lbs, your odds are 5,000 to catching that 7 lb bass, if you fish where that bass lives, if not your odds fall to 0, same chance of catching a 10 lb bass.

Location, timing then lure presentation all must come together to catch big bass.

Tom

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, reason said:

Yes, they eat more, and they eat larger prey, so that math is almost a wash. There is just a lot less larger fish than smaller fish. There is a lot of scientific papers on fish reproduction, survival, distribution and other related subjects. Follow a YOY brood, and one can see that the catch per unit effort by sizes makes perfect sense without imagining that fish somehow get "smart" as they grow. Unlike some mammals whose survival strategy is have few (or one) off spring at a time and spend enormous time and energy ensuring it's survival, most fish do the exact opposite (except in the TVAs) where they start out with a bizillion (poetic license) off spring, and set them off to the cruel world, where mortality rates start out crazy high (technical term) and taper off somewhat as they grow. 

You said you believe larger bass are caught more frequently pre-spawn because they are concentrated in shallow water. I agree but that is true of all bass. Do you find they make up a larger percentage of catches certain times of year than others and if so, what is your take on why?

 

@WRB what is your take on why larger bass make up a differing percentage of catches through the year? (If you agree they do). Also, does fishing pressure factor in? It seems to certainly affect fish making them more wary or less in my experience. 

11 minutes ago, scaleface said:

I have witnessed bass behavior change with fishing pressure . They may not have the ability to reason but it seems  they can react negatively to being caught . They are of course rarer . There is only one biggest bass in the pond and a bizillion little ones .

I agree there must be something to this. Even if it is not intelligent reasoning like we have, it seems they somehow can be conditioned by fishing pressure to be more wary of unknown lures. 

 

As my wife jokes about one swimbait I had, a bass says to another bass “Hey Gary, look at how that goofy fish is swimming!” “Weird, lets stay away!”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, FCPhil said:

You said you believe larger bass are caught more frequently pre-spawn because they are concentrated in shallow water. I agree but that is true of all bass. Do you find they make up a larger percentage of catches certain times of year than others and if so, what is your take on why?

Yes, In addition to the pre spawn, which is one of the best times to catch a large fish, I like late summer afternoons, The fall on the first really cold front, and after they come off the spawn funk in that order. It depends on where one fishes, The shallow natural lakes and the Potomac river here fish differently than large reservoirs which in themselves come in a few flavors. Most sexually mature fish are going to be around the same areas during the pre spawn and spawn, so yes, there will be more smaller fish than larger ones, but it increases the odds quite a bit. I have a couple of places where I go looking shallow to deep from the spawning areas, and start out picking one here, one there, then when I get a couple of large males in a row, I know a real one isn't far behind. I like to get out as often as possible then, cause once you find the main body of fish, they will move up and back up with the changing conditions, but they won't go far, so it's a couple of weeks of bent rods. I go looking for cleared spots as early as Late Feb, and that keys me in on when the first fish move up. But I will say that every lake is different, and every year is different, so I do what the fish want on a given day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, scaleface said:

I have witnessed bass behavior change with fishing pressure . They may not have the ability to reason but it seems  they can react negatively to being caught . They are of course rarer . There is only one biggest bass in the pond and a bizillion little ones .

I agree.  I thinks its a combination of being more rare as well as being conditioned from being caught multiple times.  I don't think they are "smarter", but but become more wary from being caught.  Same is true with all animals, a squirrel in a public park will eat peanuts out of your hand, take squirrels that has been shot at on a hunting preserve, you snap one little twig and you can watch him scurry off into the wooded sunset.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any bass angler interested in catching big bass should get Bill Murphy's book In Pursuit of Giant Bass and read it. Adult Characterics chapter starts on page 17 to page 34. I can't add anything that Bill hasn't discussed.

Tom

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suggest looking at DNR surveys. Where I fish, it takes a bass 12+ years to get to five lbs. According to DNR surveys in the lake, less than 5% of bass reach this age, so big fish much more are rare than average-sized fish. A lot has to go right for a fish to reach that age.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • fishing forum

    fishing

    fishing forum

    fishing rods

    fishing poles

    fishing

    fishing reels

    fishing poles

    fishing reels

    fishing

    fishing

    bass fish

    fish for bass
    fish

×