Fish Psych 101: Think Like a Fish

Fish Psychology, Think Like a FishHave you ever wondered what a fish is thinking? Did you ever wish that you could get inside of its head?

The truth is that the fish isn’t thinking… really. But you can get inside of your target fish’s head. Doing so will make you a better fisherman and a more successful one too.

Most animals, including fish, at their core, run purely on instinct. Put the stimuli in and the instinct sends the appropriate action back out. I read an article recently about the bald eagle. The bald eagle is well-known for its excellent eyesight. The eagle has an extremely small brain. In fact, most of the space in its skull is actually filled with processors for its eyeballs. When the eagle sees movement far below, it doesn’t think “I wonder what that is down there?” or even ”Is that food?” In fact, the entire brain of the eagle is full only of instinct. When it sees that movement down below, there is no thought process. If the eagle’s stomach signals that it is empty, instinct automatically sends the eagle swooping down for the kill.

I believe that the fish that we target work on the same principle. They have senses that trigger actions based on instincts. When they are hungry, instincts tell them to feed. When they are threatened, instincts tell them to fight or to flee. Instincts tell them when to mate, when and where to migrate, what temperature of water to seek, what types of food or prey to pursue and a myriad of other things that are necessary in their daily lives. We could say that they are creatures of habit but I say they are really creatures of instinct.

Many people believe that luck is involved in being a successful fisherman. I personally believe that luck is when preparedness meets opportunity. I believe that if we prepare ourselves properly, we will put more fish in our coolers at the end of the day.

Have you ever noticed that the avid, all-the-time fishermen seem to be more successful? Some guides can always put you on the fish? These people always seem to be able to catch a fish, no matter the day, the time, the conditions, or the weather. This is because they are able to get inside of the fish’s head. They have learned to think like a fish. They have prepared themselves by studying their target fish, its habits, and its reactions to various stimuli. They have learned by study and by experience where a fish will go and what it will eat and how it will act under certain circumstances or conditions. They use this knowledge to catch fish while the rest of us scratch our heads and watch.

It is true that we can all “get lucky” once in a while, but if we really want to be successful as fishermen, we must prepare ourselves by studying our quarry and its habits. We must learn to truly “Think like a fish”.

Alaska Jim signature, fishing trip to Alaska