Breaking News Bar
updated: 9/19/2012 11:42 AM

Fish with feelings? It's an emotional issue

Success - Article sent! close

Aside from being accepted in to the National Freshwater Fishing of Fame, I am also honored to become a full-fledged member of the Know-It-All Society.

That award (without plaque or certificate) was bestowed upon me by an exceptional man-about-town, the ultimate "Master of Nuts and Bolts." It is merely a vocal anointing, and often given to those of us Mensa-wannabees who display a touch of arrogance and ego.

In reality, though, I'm not good at backing up my truck or sliding my fishing boat into my garage without slicing off part of the garage door.

Now that all the important stuff is out of the way, I would like to offer my 50-cents worth of opinion about the language choices use by some anglers, especially the ones with the cable television shows. Because I signed up for the super-duper viewing package, I am able to watch the nightly news from Transylvania and experience the Bulgarian poultry report as well.

Along with all that worldly, educational programming, I discovered fishing and hunting channels mixed in. And because some guests/hosts on these shows speak in regional jargon, I opted for the closed-captioning feature so I could extrapolate what these folks are actually saying.

Now I'm wondering if some of my astute readers have fallen into the trap of assigning feelings and attitudes to fish and animals.

Allow me to explain.

The television mavens (not all of them) have a habit of tagging emotions to fish as the anglers plumb the depths of a lake or river. You and I can often hear some of them say, "I can't get a biggin to hit this lure because they probably ain't hungry."

Of course it makes sense to us common folks that a fish's strike instincts aren't active at that particular moment. But these guys often describe a hard strike with enthusiastic whoops and hollering. The words tumbling out with something like this:

"This hawg is really angry."

How does he know?

I've questioned a few biologists, but most were not willing to stick out their fins to risk condemnation or scorn with information or opinion on the emotion question.

One biologist and acquaintance went out on a limb and told me that he believes fish are always hungry for something to eat.

You think?

I fished with one egomaniac a few years ago who happened to have an IQ score that, according to him, "raced off the charts."

After a half-day of searching a lake for largemouth bass he declared, "the big boys didn't like the colors of his lures."

So why didn't he change after I'd caught my fifth fish?

I wondered how he came to that mind-boggling conclusion, so I asked him this question: Could it be you weren't in the spots where the fish hang out?

He was dumbfounded that I would ask such a stupid question.

"They liked this color yesterday and really went for it," he explained. "They love this very same color all the time."

Love is a very strong emotion and feeling, so as not to get this guy completely crazed, I asked him if he'd asked some of the lake's bass just what they loved, and how often.

Common sense tells me that fish will sometimes react to a lure's color, shape, size and where it sits or suspends in a body of water. "Loving" is left for the annual spawning.

We have allowed our emotions to be transferred to fish -- in the same way many of us do the same with our dogs.

One chap told me, "Osgood, my black Lab, loves his bankie and pillow."

I suggested that perhaps this guy also liked his own blanket and pillow and just wanted Osgood to have a taste of the good life as the dog started chewing it to pieces.

•Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.