Wednesday 27 March 2013

Fed up

Definition of FED UP

: tired, sated, or disgusted beyond endurance

When a hawk has eaten its fill (in falconry speak, when it’s “crop is full”) it won’t want to hunt. Of course, another way of saying it’s eaten its fill is to say it’s “fed-up.” The phrase has moved from a bird who doesn’t want to hunt anymore to a person who is bored, annoyed, or disappointed, especially with something that they have experienced for too long.

Ever notice that when you bring a bass home to eat you more than likely find its stomach is empty? You may then conclude rightly that the reason it ate our fly or lure was because it was hungry and actively feeding. Sometimes I find myself wondering if, during the fight that, the fish might have regurgitated his last meal in an attempt to shed the hook. If the fish did have food in his stomach how much food was there initially and ho1-DSC_8495w much more was any bass prepared to eat and when did the fish stop and start feeding?

Lots of questions as usual! We all know well at this stage that bass, will, in most instances, eat anything that moves, crabs, shrimp, sandeel, gobies, worms, cuttlefish. They do at times become selective and very efficient, but over time cannot be completely selective at the risk of missing an opportunity to increase a lipid reserve.

Lots of energy is spent chasing food, this energy must be replaced, hunger must be sated, normal physiological requirements met, growth patterns followed and even the laying down of a fat reserve is all required from feeding.

If you know where and when bass may be feeding AND you know what they may be feeding on then your chances of catching them increase. Bass don't have teeth and so tend to swallow their food in its entirety. Not having a set of chompers to cut prey in half and eat smaller pieces requires a different type of mouth and swallowing action. Fish need to swallowed head first I guess, crabs and other shellfish must be dealt with too which can't be easy!

Once swallowed the food finds its way into the convoluted stomach system. This convolution is known as the rugosa. This system creates an increased stomach area without increasing the size of the stomach itself. This also increases the bass’s ability to absorb its food very quickly. A bass feeds until it can hold no more food this might mean feeding over several tides, and then the fish takes time out to digest the stomach contents. During this ‘time out’ period fish will not be excessively active.When the contents of its stomach have been absorbed the fish begins to move, becomes more active and starts to feed again, hence when we catch them we catch them with empty or just beginning to fill stomachs.

1-DSC_8496When do bass feed? During the season springtime heralds their arrival and forage is often sparse, summer seems particularly active and also during the post spawning period. There appears to be a slow down in late summer as temperatures rise and then an Autumn rush to get fat on for winter as temperatures cool again. But once water temperatures begin to drop towards 10 degrees the fishes metabolism begins to slow and once that happens they tend to feed less frequently. This doesn't mean you can't catch bass In cold water, you can of course it's just less likely to happen with any great frequency. In colder water digestion takes longer too, what often might take a few hours to digest during summer might take days during winter. That is of course if temperatures are conducive to feeding in the first place.

I believe that even in cooler temperatures and when presented with unexpected food sources these opportunities are taken advantage of whenever possible and bass will eat.

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The beginning AND the end…

Forwarded to - The Irish Bass Policy Group (David McInerny, John Quinlan, Shane O Reilly, Mike Hennessy, Dr William Roche, Dr Nial O'Ma...