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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Now that a few of us are noticing the number of fish just playing with or nipping the tails of baits (recent stinger successes), does anybody have any views or ideas on exactly what the fish might actually be playing at? Its never so obvious with bass, but do they too follow baits and just nip at the tails - or are they more aggressive? Stinger hooks generally report successes with Pollack mostly, although I know they'll hook bass too.

Are these fish just nipping baits to see if they're real with the intention of eating it? Or do they know full well from the start that the bait isn't real and they're just angry little devils having a swipe at it. Or is it just general curiosity?

...Do fish 'play'?

Competiton, I think, will make a fish grab more aggressively at a bait. Having watched groups of 3 or 4 small pollack chasing tiny lures recently, they'll follow and almost take turns in swiping at the bait. One fish on its own rarely had the same number of swipes - it'd be much more inclined just to just follow and watch. But still its the same question... playful aggression or are they trying to eat the lure before the others get it - even if they're not 100% convinced its real? Maybe this is why single bass seen following a lure will not always bite, no matter what you do with the lure before it's back to shore? From memory, I do think that if you have 2 or 3 bass following, one is much more likely to strike. It's almost the opposite situation in terms of tackle and technique, but maybe the same principle does apply.

Really I'm obviously mostly thinking about soft baits though, and am especially intrigued by tail-nipping. Why? Anybody with tropical fish experience that has watched them closey enough to think about it?

As I mentioned in a recent report, I expected more natural looking baits to be most successful when fish became shy - the reverse was true. The tackle I was using was very fine and light. Does it not matter how light and realistic we go (do they STILL know the bait is not real?), or were those fish just not hungry? Personally I'd find it hard to believe that juvenile fish would pass up an easy meal. Something's not right.

Every non-lure angler I speak to instinctively suggests that lure fishing is about closely mimicking an injured baitfish. In some cases this is obviously true (or is it?!)(deadsticking would be one good example of mimicking real life - and you're not even doing anything!), but bright colours .... strong vibrations ..... loud rattles ......

If even young fish know that a well presented tiny bait IS NOT real, what about our averagely presented larger baits for more mature fish? Do they laugh at our lame attempts of mimicking real life? We catch fish, but is it because what we're actually doing is something different to what we think we're doing??!!!

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Sorry, bit deep and meaningful for mid-week...

Mods, is there any chance you could move this out to the main sections? Rambled on a bit in here and its gone much more general. :p
 

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Now that a few of us are noticing the number of fish just playing with or nipping the tails of baits (recent stinger successes), does anybody have any views or ideas on exactly what the fish might actually be playing at?
Personally Ben:

I believe tail nipping is more common than we think in saltwater fish. Zander/Walleye are notorious for it. Bass too in certain circumstances.
It's a disabling maneuver. In Zander, It used to be said they will disable or injure a fish meaninglessly ? Now it's found that the Zander return to collect disabled prey at a more opportune time.

Maybe, our tail nippers are doing exactly that. If a bait can't be managed in one move, disable the prey first. Bait falls (explains why OTD is so effective) and also why deadsticked or shaky is an effective presentation.

Just my thoughts but always open to theories because I simply do not have a definitive answer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Cheers Keith. Don't worry, I know there's no definitive answer.

I believe tail nipping is more common than we think in saltwater fish.
Would fully agree with that. Following fish too, I'd bet there are massively more that we don't see than the ones we do.

We obviously feel tiny knocks on the LRF stuff that we probably just wouldn't (or haven't been) on bass gear.

Disabling makes good sense really in a lot of cases. Maybe in warmer water we'll start to see more positive takes?! I expect we probably will, especially on the small baits. Be interesting to see how it develops with time/temp/competition (between fish).

Next time I'm out, I might actually see how the fish react to fully resting baits (on the bottom). After they're hit I'll fish them OTD from there and then see how fish react to them once they're static on the bottom - if they haven't been taken on the way down. I'd like to think that that may be where the more natural looking baits start to swing an advantage. What I don't like at the moment is the fact that they're preferring crazily unnatural colours. Obviously I'm catching, but I'd prefer to be catching by successfully recreating something natural. Its a self-made challenge I suppose - wanting to get it right because I can, rather than relying personally on a bright bait to anger them in to striking. Saying that, I might be talking rubbish and they really might just like eating pink, yellow and glow colours?! Who the hell knows?!... Bl**dy fish!
 
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