• Fishing & Tech

Hot Fishing Tips: 5 Scientific Facts About How Largemouth Bass Sense Their Environment

Updated: Mar 9

Understanding These Aspects of their Biology Can Help You Fish Smarter

Fall 2020 @ Long Pond, Dracut, MA


Largemouth Bass (aka - M. salmoides) share many senses with us anglers, like sight, smell, touch, and taste. They also have senses like certain Marvel superhero characters, such as electroreception, meaning they can detect the tiniest vibrations and electricity. 1. Vision

Bass are amazing predators and they rely primarily on their eyesight to find and hunt prey. They can see in color, detect miniscule motion in the water from far away and see in extremely dim light. The lenses in their eyeballs are perfect spheres (unlike ours which are flat), which enables them to see underwater because it has a higher refractive index to help them focus. They also have an eye structure called the Tapetum lucidum which helps them see at night. The Tapetum contains a layer of crystals that amplify the incoming light and glow at night.



What This Means for Fishing

Bass have a greater field of vision than humans and can see in all directions except directly behind or below, so what your presentation looks like to a bass is critically important, especially in high visibility conditions such as clear water and clear skies. In these conditions, pay attention to how visible your line is, your swivel, and you hook/bait/lure - also use dark colors as they appear to be more natural and appetizing to bass.


When fishing in low visibility conditions - such as on cloudy day, at night, or in murky water), try using white, silver or neon colored lures. These colors tend to reflect a lot of light which allows the bass to see the lure quicker, and more accurately, making it far more likely to strike.

2. Hearing

A bass doesn't have ears like we do - their ears are actually located within their bodies. They also have a lateral line system that actually lets them feel their surroundings. Sound vibrations readily transmit from the water through the bass's body, thus making "hearing" a really important sense for them. In fact, it's the second strongest sense behind their vision when it comes to attacking prey.


What This Means for Fishing

Remember to use lures that vibrate, and "sound" loud in the water, especially when dealing with water that is cloudy, choppy, raining or it's windy. Also when fishing for bass in the spring during spawning season, you will notice that the bass are on nest and close to the shore. Therefore, it is important to be careful to approach the bass slowly - so you don't spook them. Too many unnatural vibrations in the water will cause them to flee, especially the bigger ones.


3. Smell and Taste

Bass depend heavily on smell and taste to detect their prey and decide if it's edible. Largemouth bass have two nostrils on each side of their head, and they use an organ called the olfactory rosette to detects the smells (chemicals) in the water. As a bass gets larger, its olfactory rosette grows and its sense of smell becomes proportionally stronger. Bass also have a well developed sense of taste - in fact, they have taste buds on their lips, tongue, and all over their mouths.


What This Means for Fishing

The larger the bass, the more important scent is when picking baits/lures. The right smell can attract them, while the wrong one can scare them away. Scented lures like Berkley Power Worms, cause larger bass to bite more often and hold on longer because of their taste and smell. I'm also a fan of a select few add-on scents that I will share in a future post. Let's just say, I've caught more lunker largemouth using these specific scents than not.



4. Distant Touch (Lateral Line)

Largemouth bass posses another sense that's kind of like a cross between hearing (short range, or nearby sound) and touch. They have organs called neuromasts, which are part of their lateral line and provide the bass a sense of direction and sense similar to "touching" something from a distance. The lateral line not only allows fish to hear nearby sound better underwater, but it enables them to feel what is going on in the neighborhood. These abilities are used in schooling and detecting prey/predators.

5. Electricity: Electroreception

Bass, and some other types of predatory fish like Sharks, have an amazing electrical detection system called the ampullae of Lorenzini which is made of canals in the skin containing sensory cells. Movements near a bass cause a voltage drop along the canals, giving bass yet another sense they can use to detect things around them. Using this amazing organ, they can detect muscular contractions of struggling prey and even to navigate in water that is murky, or at night.


What This Means for Fishing

Sound and vibration are important and can matter, and a bass can hear/feel a lure/bait from up to 50 feet away! When water conditions and light are such that bass can’t see very well, a loud, vibrating lure, like a spinner or chatterbait, can certainly get their attention - even from a good distance.


If you prefer to fish something like a Texas-rigged worm without any rattles, don't worry - if you get it close to a bass, it’ll know where it is, even if it can’t see it!


That's it for now folks. I hope you enjoyed this article and learned something that you can put to use the next time you go fishing.


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Until next time, I wish you all tight lines and good times my friends!


Summer 2021 @ Heart Pond, Chelmsford, MA



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