Dr. Keith Jones, Director of Fish Research at Berkley
Anglers are constantly in search of a magic bullet to land more and bigger bass – the proof of which can be found lining the shelves of every tackle store. And while everyone with a rod in hand will tell you that their methods work best, Dr. Keith Jones, Director of Fish Research at Berkley, devotes his efforts to separating fish lore from fishing fact. He has spent years studying bass and recently took some time to explain to anglers everywhere the facts about bass preference for flavor, size and color.
In developing the powerfully effective Gulp! and PowerBait, have you determined if bass have a favorite flavor?
“All animals are chemically tuned to regard some flavors as very appealing while others are regarded as less appealing and some are considered to be repugnant. So just having a flavored bait doesn’t mean much, it has to be a scent that they consider appealing. Bass are carnivores and are tuned to perceive meaty flavors as quite palatable. Things that are not meaty have virtually no appeal whatsoever. The flavors themselves have to be something they recognize as being prey. You can even give them a flavor that they can’t match in their environment and as long as they perceive that as being meaty, as prey, they would find that palatable.”
How important is the size of the bait?
“Generally speaking, any predatory species is going to be size discriminatory. They are visually tuned to see certain sized baits as either appropriate or not appropriate. They learn that as they grow what sizes are appropriate for them and also what delivers more food value. A bass of any size has a size range it is looking for. It changes with the gain in size of a bass as well as with an increase with its aggressiveness. The more aggressive the fish, the bigger bait it will be willing to attack. Small fish tend to be more aggressive because they haven’t lived long enough to learn better. Older bass tend to be more discerning when it comes to size.”
Much is made of color selection. How do you decide which color bait to fish?
“The fact of the matter is that bass can see color, but their color range is much smaller than ours. They can see just the fringes of blue, some greens; and yellows, oranges and reds very well. Color is just not as important to them as it is to us. To a bass, color has to enhance contrast vision: they use color to be able to tell the difference in brightness between an object and its background. Second, they use color to see patterns they recognize and associate with certain types of prey. Bass don’t have the neurological luxury of having a favorite color or a favorite anything.