A Bassís Sense Of Hearing.
By: Leo Watson
The black bass is an incredible predator. It can explode on a top
water plug in dark, muddy water. It can easily capture forage after
dark, and pinpoint prey in heavy cover. How can the bass pinpoint
such objects when it canít rely solely on its eyes or sense of smell?
The bass utilize their full range of senses, especially hearing.
Hearing is the bassí most acute sense, however it is largely misunderstood.
Bass detect sound through their lateral line at a distance of up
to 100 feet, about twice as far as they can see!
Sound and vibration travel four times faster in water then they
do in air. In water, sound waves are transmitted at 5,000 feet per
second. What this means is that the signal strength of a rattling
bait, such as a rattle trap as it is cranked through stained or
muddy water will be easily detected by bass in the area.
Bass detect distant sounds with their inner ear. They identify
closer sounds through lateral line. At distances of more than 20
feet, a bass will hear the sound with its inner ear. Sounds particularly
those of high frequencies, are transmitted through the skin, muscle
and bone to the inner ear, but the bass will not be able to detect
the source or its location.
To pinpoint objects, bass utilize their lateral line, which consist
of a series of sensitive nerve endings that extend from just behind
the gills to the tail on each side of the bass. The lateral line
is a displacement-pressure receptor that "feels" the pressure waves
created by objects moving through the water.
At distances less than 20 feet, bass employ their lateral line
to detect underwater vibrations and noise sources. The sound/distance
factor is significant if you are wading, tube fishing or fishing
from a boat in an area with very little cover. When casting in waters
with sparse cover position yourself more than 20 feet away from
The underwater world is not as silent as some anglers think. Bass
are very aware of the sounds that are normal parts of their environment.
Some fish use sounds in their mating rituals or as a warning to
predators. Crayfish and freshwater shrimp make clicking sounds,
according to experts. Large crayfish often emit claw snapping and
antenna scraping sounds. Initial underwater contact between predator
and prey is not usually by sight or smell but through sound waves.
Bass themselves sound off by flaring and closing their gill plates.
A bass protecting its territory or spawning bed will spread its
fins and open and close its gills with a loud clap to scare away
intruders. I have personally witnessed this behavior while spending
many hours observing bass during the spawn. At times I could even
hear them slamming their gill plates shut. It is a mighty intimidating
sound to say the least.
Through sight, scent and sound we have seen how the bass operates.
With exceptional sensory powers how do bass fall prey to mans imitations?
Itís due to a need they share with us ...... the need to eat!
I hope all of you have enjoyed and learned from this series of
articles on the bassí senses. Reading and understanding these articles
will help you boat more fish. Keep checking back on this website
for more articles written by myself to help you learn more about
the science of bass fishing. Remember always take a kid fishing.
They are the future of our great sport.
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