Unlike humans, who have a hierarchy of needs to help determine their actions and decisions, fish behavior can be boiled down to three motives: food, safety, and comfort. Let’s take a look at the three simple things that make fish tick. If you consider these three ideas and apply related logic at your local lake, you will be catching more fish in no time.
Food is the driver for almost everything fish do. A fish’s main goal is to obtain as much food to help them survive. This may sound like most of us at a full breakfast buffet, but it also relates to everything you’ll be trying to catch in the lake. Study the baitfish available to them as food, and try to imitate that. If you see small minnows swimming in schools, the larger fish in that body of water are likely feeding on them. If you see grasshoppers on the bank, predators are also likely to be feeding on those. Learning the feeding habits of fish in your local waters will make you 10x the angler you are today!
The second motive for fish behaviors is safety. Considering every fish in a body of water is fighting for nourishment from the same food supply, fish need to watch their backs. Many species, like perch, are notorious cannibals and even feed on the young of their own. Even large bass have to duck out of the way of muskies, pike, and other bigger predators. Knowing this, fish will search for cover to hide. Find pieces of cover or “hideouts” and fish those before moving to open deeper water.
The final reason for any fish behavior is comfort. Whether they are in transit, finding food, or seeking safety, fish will find the easiest way to do so. On days with blinding sun, search for bass in the depths as they will avoid the surface to avoid the bright sunlight. Muddy waters with too much current are much less likely to harbor a bass than a spot with clean bottoms and clear water such as gravel beds or steep, rocky shorelines (known as rip rap). Think like a fish – would that be a spot you’d hang out? If not, move along and find a more comfortable hangout and target the fish there!
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