Why do baits work? This quick science lesson is part one of a great informative series from Mark McKenna, the brains behind Baitcraft baits…
When thinking about creating a bait, the natural place to start is to look at the physiology of our quarry and exactly how it is they locate and evaluate their food. In the animal Kingdom this process of food procurement is known as ‘chemoreception’.
This is potentially one of the most complex areas I’m going to be discussing but is essentially a big word scientists use to describe the senses of smell and taste or ‘olfaction and gustation’ respectively. The mechanisms which deliver these senses to the fish are less important to the bait maker and therefore the angler than knowing what fish can and can’t detect, but they are of interest.
A carp’s sense of smell comes from a group of specialised cells contained in a sac beneath its nostrils known as the olfactory organ. Water is continually being circulated over the surface of the olfactory organ which is comprised of a membrane, receptor molecules special proteins and nerve endings. The fish is continually being given information about its environment, and there will always be a fair bit of chemical ‘noise’ which will not register with the fish consciously.
Taste Buds are concentrated inside a Carp’s mouth but are also found on its lips, barbules and also on its fins and are similar in how they function to the olfactory organ. Food odour molecules in order to be detected by Carp have to be in solution, the solubility of various compounds determines which can be utilised as chemical signals. Therefore in Carp chemoreception, non-volatile compounds such as amino acids are prominent compounds in stimulating food search behaviour. Such food odour molecules are distributed depending on the solubility of the substance and any turbulence present (i.e. wind generated undertow). This creates what is described as a concentration gradient or odour plume coming from our bait rather like smoke drifting away from the seat of a fire.
Part 2 to follow…..
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