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The Nose Knows-Even For Bass

Posted: April 1st, 2015 by Bill Dance

“Fishermen never die, they just smell that way!”

OK, after a week spent on an extended fishing trip, I’ll readily agree that I have some fishing buddies that fit this description.

But seriously, get a whiff of this: We know all the senses are important to the survival of bass, and especially the sense of smell. It’s essential.

Most current studies indicate fish have an olfactory system, which is the sense of smell, and that varied responses can result from what a bass senses through smell. As it turns out, there are many positive and negative odors found in a bass’s watery home.

Positive odors attract a fish to its source, while negative odors repel. Research has shown that many kinds of fish can (via scent) even distinguish between species of aquatic plants, other kinds of fish, insect larvae and individuals within a fish school.

Amino acid composition is, in part, responsible for the distinctive smell or odor of each species of plant and animal on earth. For instance, a bass, which feeds predominately on crawfish and shad, can distinguish the distinctive crawfish odor from the odors of other plants and animals inhabiting its water.

Bass have anterior and posterior nostrils located on either side of their heads, on their snouts between their upper lips and eyes. Water continuously enters into the anterior nostril and passes into the bass’s olfactory system and exits through the posterior nostril. The olfactory system contains millions of microscopic receptor cells that are stimulated by the various odors in the water.

While some odors stimulate feeding, others may result in fish becoming inactive.

Imagine this: Let’s say you’ve been out in your backyard, standing around, contemplating mowing the yard (contemplating is always better than mowing, trust me), and all of a sudden you get wind of the neighbor grilling out. Though you might not be hungry this kind of stimulus changes your mind. And before you know it, it’s, “Howdy, neighbor, long time no see!”

OK, I admit it. It is somewhat questionable comparing the way a human brain reacts to stimulus as opposed to a bass. We’re different critters. Still, just as a neighbor’s fragrant grill gets my attention, I have to think the scent of crawfish in the water is going to stimulate a bass.

Of course we also have to note what eventually causes a bass to strike is a package deal, a combination of stimuli that has sparked the bass’s other senses as well, such as what it might hear or see.

But there’s plenty of accredited evidence that indicates the sense of smell plays a major role in the life of a bass. So it should be obvious that you can improve your catches by using a lure impregnated with an attractant or by adding one to your lure, especially when the fish are inactive.

As always, catch one for me!

Bill Dance



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