Back to Biology class
As a Biology/zoology educator I feel it would be an injustice if I didn't make use of the knowledge I've gained (and severely, over abundantly, astronomically over-paid for) during my college days. Little did I know how valuable the test-cramming, all night studying, expensive book buying days of my youth would be in the angling pursuits of my adult life. Besides... being a high school biology teacher was the next best option since a "fly fishing for living" degree wasn't on the course catalog. Heres the important correlations from my alma mater to your reeling ventures.
Know thy fish
I don't mean just identify what kind of fish you see or what may be dangling from your hook, I mean actually know about the fish. The diagram above lists the basic knowledge anatomy that most Osteichthyes (bony fish) possess. Here are the parts to know about.
The Lateral Line
Fish have an extraordinary sense organ called the lateral line system. If you've ever wondered what the line of bumpy looking scales are that run the lateral length of the fish, you know know it. It's a collection of raised scales that are infused with very small sensitive nerves. Those nerves relay info about what's going on in the water and give the fish a sense of vibration and pressure. Fish can sense movement, depth and even sound with this incredible adaptation. It's the reason why the fish at the department store aquarium scramble in all directions when your toddler smacks the glass.
Fish aren't dense... all the time.
Next to the stomach is a specially lined membraneous sac commonly known as the swim bladder. Bony fish can manipulate the size of the swim bladder by releasing gases or expanding and contracting the sac. This increases and decreases there densities. Remember anything denser than water sinks so now you should realize how that fish seemed to rise out of nowhere without making any real movements. Not sure how valuable it is to know this for fishing but now you can geek out on your fishing buddy.
This is just a fun one to say. It rings of scientific phenetics and makes the individual instantly the best fisherman on the bank as soon as it's mentioned among fishing circles. Trust me, I'm a science teacher. The operculum allows for fish to remain nearly still in the water and "pump" oxygenated water over the gills. If you'll remember the age old saying that sharks don't sleep (which isn't entirely true) it's spawns from them not having an operculum and thus needing to constantly swim to pump water over the external gills. Even though sharks clearly win out in the who-eats-who contest they definitely haven't changed much in the last several hundred million years like our cutting edge of evolution freshwater game fish.
Translation: anatomical reference to nostrils. I'm not a fish smelling expert, but I do know that fish do actually pick up scents in the water and can be alarmed them or seduced by them. The olfactory lobe of the brain controls this set of complex behaviors. When certain regions of scent specific nodes in the nares are activated by the bait the behavior flips to "eat mode" for the fish. That's why it's hard to beat live bait. One cool example of this is the catfish species. The "whiskers" (actually termed barbels) aren't for feeling, they're loaded with taste buds and olfactory scent nerves for tasting and smelling out prey in the darkened beds and deep holes of lakes or streams.
Fish overtake there prey by mostly swallowing them whole like Jonah. I used to keep a couple bass in a 50 gallon tank in my classroom and feed them minnows from time to time. They would chase the minnows down and swallow them whole and sometimes the minnow would wriggle back up the throat and escape only to be swallowed for a second time. This swallowing of prey is great news for the angler. The fish that are kept in your area should be not only filleted but also dissected to see the stomach contents. What a great way to tag seasonal dieting and key bait specie for your bass, crappie, or gills you do keep. Fish bite hooks when they're hungry, know what makes them hungry.
Robbie is the creator of WF and loves to spend time in the outdoors chasing steelhead, upland birds, and the beauty of nature.
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