Understanding Bass Part II

Fish Facts

In my last article, Understanding Bass Part-1, I covered a few critical factors that an angler should know about to become a more successful bass angler. We covered food, oxygen, and cover, which a bass needs to survive. We also covered water temperatures and how it affects bass and a few others to help you increase your knowledge about bass fishing.

This article will cover a few more essential factors to give you a broader knowledge of understanding bass. Look at it this way. It's like a jigsaw puzzle. The more pieces of the puzzle you put together, the more you will see the picture as a whole. What's that mean? In simple terms, the more you understand the bass -- why it does things when it does, where it goes during different seasons, how a bass reacts under certain circumstances, and areas where bass are more likely to be found on different bodies of water -- it will help you when it comes to saving precious fishing time as well as becoming a much more productive angler.

First, we will cover just how important the senses of a bass are and how they affect bass behavior.


A bass has a very acute sense of sight (or vision) and can see very well in just about any water clarity and light condition, including night. How well can a bass see at night? For example, on a full moon, when it gets bright enough from the moon's light to where you can almost read a newspaper outside, a bass can see that good.

How is this possible? The eyes of a bass have rods and cones which naturally adjust under different light conditions (the cones and rods will retract and extend, making a natural adjustment for their vision). Bass can see in most all water clarities (clear, semi-stained, stained, dark, and even muddy colors), but when the vision of a bass is restricted, the other senses will take over.

Hearing & Feeling

A bass's hearing and feeling are synonymous with each other. In other words, they hear and feel simultaneously. Unlike you or I, where we may hold a conversation with another person understanding what is being said, a bass hears and feels the vibration from the different sounds and movements in the water. Different sounds will cause different pitches that send vibrations. Bass will get familiar with certain sounds such as pitches and vibrations made from natural living forage and feel any water displacement within proximity caused by even the slightest movement.

I'll give you an example: Let's take a Carolina rig, for instance. The Carolina rig has several different purposes as far as presentation and technique goes, but the most crucial part is the sound (The TICKER!).

We talked earlier in Understanding Bass Part I about the most desired food of a bass being a crawfish (crawdad, crayfish, etc.) When a crawfish moves in the water, it will cause a clicking sound (vibration) from the cartilage in its tail. This clicking sound sends a vibration through the water and alerts a bass that a natural food source is in the area. The bass moves closer to this sound. Then if the presentation of the bait is just right, you can probably catch the bass.

A bass has a natural radar system built within it and can zero in on just about any movement or sound made within the water. When you work a Carolina rig in the water, the sound made by the slightest movement of the ticker (e.g., glass & brass beads, b-b chambers, two glass beads, etc.) is designed to replicate the movement (vibration) of a natural live crawfish. This will alert a bass that a natural forage bait is in the area.

Other baits such as Rat-L-Traps, Cordell Spots, Rattled Spinnerbaits, etc., create sounds that travel further in the water than a displacement of water caused by a bait without any sound added to it. The reason noisy baits work so well is that a bass can hear them at greater distances and can travel further to investigate the sounds made from these types of baits. Then when close enough to the bait, the sight and taste senses will take precedence over the feeling or hearing senses.

Taste & Smell

A bass has taste buds outside its mouth and inside. Now think a minute! That means that a bass can taste an object before it even gets in its mouth. The taste and smell are again synonymous, and the bass smells and tastes are simultaneous. Now, how acute is a bass's sense of taste and or smell?

A few years back, a study was conducted of the taste and smell of a bass in a tank of 100 gallons of water. In this study, the bass was found to taste (or smell) 1-200th of a drop of a substance in the 100-gallon water tank. What a fantastic sense of taste and smell!

What does this have to do with bass? It means a great deal if you want to be a successful angler. If a bass can sense a bait that doesn't have a pleasing or acceptable taste or smell, it will spit it right back out within 1 to 3 seconds. Not much time to set a hook, right? But, if the bass accepts the taste or smell and puts it in its mouth, it can hold it up to as long as 30 seconds before spitting it out. Much more time to set the hook!

To sum up the taste and smell segment, here are a few tips to help you understand why you may be getting those quick hits and not catching any fish:

  1. Always wash your hands before you go fishing.
  2. Fill up your boat with gas and oil the night before you go fishing.
  3. Use natural forage formulas or a formula that has been tested and proven to work.
  4. Try to use odor-free soap or a scent neutralizer.

Just these steps can make a world of difference when catching more bass. Many anglers use these steps above and can't believe the difference.

I hope this article may shed some light on applying presentations, techniques, and knowledge in your future bass fishing adventures!

Until next time.....Take Care & God Bless!