A study conducted by Gary P. Garett of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) at their Heart of the Hills Research Station support the theory that elusiveness and negative response to fishing lures can be linked to genetics.
”Two generations of selective breeding for vulnerability to angling in largemouth bass Micropterus sallnoides revealed that this trait is heritable. Fish selectively bred for angling vulnerability were more likely to be caught multiple times than were those bred for wariness,” Garrett wrote.
“…analysis showed the trait was associated with subspecific differences and that northern largemouth bass were innately easier to catch than were hybrids between Florida bass and largemouth bass. These differences will be exploited by fishery managers in a Texas reservoir with a goal of providing high catch rates and trophy potential in largemouth bass.”
Garrett noted that avoidance behavior as well as the ability to discern natural prey from artificial replicas likely would be best developed in those not harvested (fish caught and released to breed again.)
“Selective pressure, however, will influence future generations only if a trait is heritable. If angling vulnerability has a genetic component and there is genetic variation in the trait, succeeding generations would be made up of a greater proportion of those less susceptible to angling.”
Citing researchers Brown, Aldrich, Bowers and Martin he said that largemouth bass are rapid learners, particularly when negative stimuli such as artificial lures are involved.
“Learning is an important factor when fish are caught and released, because previously experienced fishing pressure appears to be inversely related to angling vulnerability.”