It is a noisy world. But if you think that it’s boisterous on top, try living in the underwater world where sound travels up to five times faster. Rocks shifting, waves crashing and splashing sounds are constants. The crackling, clicking and snapping sounds permeate underwater. Fish hone in on these noises, especially in waters where visibility is poor. Being able to hear well is a fish’s advantage, not only in avoiding danger, but also in finding food.
Recently, I found myself surrounded by the echoing sounds of three teenage girls, generating a rock concert decibel-level laughing racket. While I was under this public bridge, quietly reflecting on the currents and contemplating my next cast from the catwalk, no fish were biting. The girls left, the concert was over and the fish turned on. Coincidence? I’m not sure. It’s always been a given to me, though, that when a line is in the water, the surroundings must be quiet.
Science or no science, most anglers’ evidence of the noise per hook-up ratio is empirical. Bringing science into the debate, the degree to which a fish relies on hearing varies with each species and with the ambient noise level within any particular body of water. Deeper offshore fish don’t depend on hearing sensitivity as much as do fish that inhabit shallower waters.
Underwater, there are alien sounds so loud you feel as if you’re surrounded by a crustacean army. Topside, however, the slamming of a deck hatch or the rattle of an anchor chain, or a sinker weight dropped onto the deck will sound below. Same with clunks, bangs and people stomping feet. Keep this in mind while angling, and most importantly, keep the conversations to a minimum. Be hyper aware of ambient sounds and for the best hook-up practices, stay quiet.
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