Why Do Some Fish Strike Fishing Lures? Physiological and Behavioral Mechanisms

Michael Louison, Jeffrey A. Stein, Cory Suski

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Numerous factors may determine an individual fish’s vulnerability to capture by anglers. Previous experience with lures may play a role, as may individual behavioral and physiological characteristics. If intrinsic characteristics are drivers of capture vulnerability, then intensive recreational angling may drive the evolution of fish populations through the selective capture of fish with those characteristics. In an effort to identify traits which lead fish to be more vulnerable, we conducted a series of studies examining the relationship between behavioral/physiological traits and angling vulnerability. In addition, we assessed the role of prior fish experience with lures in driving vulnerability. In the first study we tested boldness, metabolic phenotype, and hormonal responsiveness to stress in largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides before angling them in an experimental pond. The results demonstrated that bass which showed a lower rise in cortisol levels after an air exposure challenge were more likely to be captured. In the second study, we tested social behavior and aggression in bluegill Lepomis macrochirus before subjecting them to angling. Results showed that for bluegill, more social individuals were more likely to be captured. Finally, we examined the role of social learning (i.e. learning to avoid lures from other fish which are experienced with lures) and previous experience with different lure types in driving capture vulnerability in largemouth bass. This study showed little role for social learning in avoiding capture, but a large effect of previous experience. Specifically, bass experienced with a particular lure could use that learning to avoid similar-looking lures, but not lures which were dissimilar. Collectively, these results show that both intrinsic behavioral/physiological characteristics and previous experience with lures are factors in determining which individual fish are most likely to be captured by anglers.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2018
Event2018 Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference - Milwaukee, United States
Duration: Jan 28 2018Jan 31 2018
Conference number: 78


Conference2018 Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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