Summary: Yep, Fish Can Learn...
Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
The University of Florida
I'm constantly amazed at the innovations in the recreational fishing industry. There are
lures today that mimic every possible prey for bass, and they come in colors, sizes, and
actions that were not even considered 20 years ago. The new swimbaits look more like a
fish than some fish do, and the new depthfinders can give the angler a clear view of the
bottom terrain. Line technology, new gadgets, are all in a constant state of change. This
obviously occurs because anglers are constantly trying to maximize their catches, and the
tackle industry is more than willing to sell them new tricks to do so!
I recently made a trip to Quetico Park (the Canadian counterpart to the Boundary Waters
Canoe Area) and fished for smallmouth bass and northern pike. The lakes in Quetico are
canoe-only access, and the number of anglers in any one set of lakes is strictly limited by
permits. I was not surprised to find that catching fish was relatively easy, but it struck me
how different the fish behaved compared to a typical reservoir or lake that has lots of
anglers. The fish in Quetico will bite, and if you miss them, they'll bite again, and again.
Of course we've known that fish become wise to angling pretty quickly, but I thought I
would share a couple of examples from the science world to illustrate this point.