How many times have you told everyone in the fish house to be quiet or they'll scare the fish. Walk softly across the floor. Don't bang that bucket. Quit sliding stuff around. Don't slam the door!
You know what I'm talking about.
Well, quietness may seem like the best thing, but a few guys who are known to catch more fish than just about any of us disagree. In fact, one even intentionally thumps on the ice to "call fish" to his bait.
Paul Johnson, vice president of marketing at Berkley and author of "The Scientific Angler," tells the story of how he and his son were scuba diving and found a large anchor. As they hauled it back to the boat it got too heavy to carry very far, so they would periodically drop it and rest. About the fourth time they dropped it they noticed they were surrounded by game fish, whereas they had seen no fish previously. Bass, walleyes, and even a muskie showed up.
Once the fish figured out what was happening they disappeared. But every time Johnson would thump the anchor on the bottom the fish would return. It evidently got to the point where he could call them right in.
After discussing this occurrence with others, Johnson found he was not alone in his opinion that fish could be attracted by making noise. He found several guides and professional fishermen that occasionally picked up and dropped their anchors on the bottom to "thump up" a few fish. I, likewise, have heard stories of fish coming to scuba divers banging tools together. I know of smallmouth fishermen in Virginia that drag long pieces of logging chain behind boats, believing it attracts fish. Areas around noisy pumps and generators have been reported to be hotspots because of the fish that hang out there. Apparently there is something to this.
Dave Genz, a well-known manufacturer of ice fishing tackle and equipment from the Twin Cities, was reported to say fish are alarmed by gas augers drilling through the ice, but are not scared by someone chopping a hole with a chisel. Another writer even stated he felt fish were attracted to the sound of an ice chisel and would intentionally cut new holes when the action slowed.
While these are convincing stories I'm not sure whether I totally agree with it. Fish go through tremendous mood swings, one moment they don't seem to be afraid of anything and the next race off at the least bit of commotion. Fish could indeed respond to noise when they are in a positive mood, but I think would scare in most instances.
For now I think I will stick with the quieter the better theory. But if things get slow, some experimenting might be fun. So if I happen to see you walking around and thumping on the ice, don't be embarrassed, I understand.
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