Understanding body language

As an outdoorsman, hunter and angler, I like to study the body language of animals. The way an animal is acting or reacting in a given situation can tell you a lot about the situation.

A perfect example that most bass fisherman have noticed is during the sight-fishing time of year. If you go by a fish and it doesn’t move off the bed, that’s a pretty good sign that you can catch that fish. If it darts off only to return a while later, that fish is going to be a lot tougher to catch. That’s the easiest body language to read on a fish, but it’s the same for fish that aren’t on beds.

I recall a few years ago when the Elite Series visited Clear Lake, California. I could go down the bank looking under docks for bass. If I spotted a fish and it didn’t take off, I knew if I turned around and snuck back in there for a cast, I had a good shot at catching that fish. When they would dart off, I knew that fish was going to be tougher to catch even if it returned just a short time later.

Besides just recognizing if they are holding their ground or taking off, there is more to tell about the body language of a bass, like the way it’s cruising down a bank or how it reacts to a lure passing by. Another good example is when you are frog fishing. If the fish are reacting to the frog, but not eating it that is telling you something. Maybe you need a smaller profile bait, a sub-surface (punch style) bait, or a different cadence on the retrieve.

The point is the body language of the bass is telling you something.

With deer, it is much the same, if a deer comes in stiff-legged and sticking its nose up in the air, you can tell it's nervous, and your window of opportunity might be short. By understanding the way the deer is acting, you can decide if you can get closer for the shot or need to take the shot quickly.

It goes beyond the understanding of just bass or deer, the body language of other life can help. Baitfish are a great source of information. If you see a bunch of shad busting out of the water it generally means something is chasing them. If they are just swimming along in a school unconcerned with anything, that’s a sign bass aren’t feeding on them. If you see shad or bluegill getting chased out of the water, you might want to put down the crawfish-styled bait and throw a lure that resembles a shad or bluegill.

Just like humans, these animals have tell-tale signs in their body language. I say it all the time, but the best way to learn these signs is by putting your time in on the water. While on the water, be sure to pay attention to the body language of the fish, and you’ll be a better angler.

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