Tanks for the myths

Bill Dance: B.A.S.S. Member since 1968

OK, there's several kind of tanks. For example, there are think tanks and septic tanks. And sometimes it seems those two can be combined with a result that smells — in more ways than one!

Many ichthyologists (yep, I spellchecked that one) study bass in tanks, and they have gained some important information, but some of it I really have strong doubts about. Heck, some of it I know is simply not true.

True, researchers can manipulate this environment by changing the lighting, changing the water temperature, etc. But this test environment is not "real."

It would be the same as studying a deer or a tiger in a pen as opposed to their wild environment. They will react differently. I think these confined critters are already stressed to a degree, so the result of such research is not going to be entirely accurate.

Take the belief that ichthyologists have scattered about in bass fishing circles, the notion that bass are all but frozen in dormancy come winter.

Now, that may be true in a tank, but it is not true in the lakes I fish.

This past week, I was fishing a lake that had some areas with surface temps at 39 degrees, while at 8 feet it was 37 degrees. Other areas I discovered had surface temps of 42 degrees while it was 39 degrees at 8 feet.

I was slow rolling a spinnerbait and caught some whoppers that hit like they would knock the blade off my bait. They fought like crazy. These fish were suspended in 10-14 feet of water.

Of the 32 bass caught, 11 were in the 6- to 9-pound range. Some had gizzard shad hanging out of their mouths!

Again, for years researchers have said that bass are very dormant in colder water temps.

Personally, I don't buy a lot of what has been preached on the behavior of winter bass. And evidently, the fish on this trip (and many others I have taken) didn't either. I catch some really big bass in December, January and February. I have even caught fish chasing lures in the shallows with water temps in the 40s.

Now, I don't think feeding periods are as long in winter. And the conditions are certainly not going to be as enjoyable for the angler. Just dress warmly and prepare yourself mentally for the expedition. It can pay off.

And definitely, don't believe everything you read or hear, especially from studies in a controlled situation. Be a skeptic, experiment, do field research, go fishing for your facts, and you will learn a lot!

For more words of wit and wisdom from one of our sport's greatest legends, check out www.billdanceoutdoors.com.

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