As it's been said, we've discussed this subject often over the years, and I've still not seen anything to change my belief since I posted the fist time.
I don't believe that fish 'think', are wily, cunning, sly, clever, or any other human trait that's often used. I believe they act instinctively to stimuli. I also believe that the perception, and reaction to that stimuli, varies from fish to fish. Not species to species, but between fish of the same species, and even the same year class. It's a natural part of evolution that some would have a quicker reaction time to perceived danger, some keener eyesight, others a keener sense of smell/taste, or be faster. I also believe that apart from times when food is scares, or over population, and in a natural environment, that there are some fish that are almost uncatchable, because of this.
As to your barbel ayjay, did it do it repeatedly? I've often sat watched barbell feeding, and it's natural that they will work their way upstream over a baited area, then drop back and start again. Whether your fish purposely took the bait up out of the area, or it was taken, then it felt the hook and dropped it, I don't know. If however it was a 'clever', 'thinking' fish, it would surely have taken the hookbait to one side, and not upstream, where the current could bring it back again.
Chesters 'retriever' fish, I would have to be there and examine the guys hands, to see whether he had some attractant, or food was involved.
We know that fish will react to regular feeding, and to the actions of other fish, but are these 'learned' or just an instinctive reaction that helps them survive?
Fish don't have to be taught what is edible, that they use less energy in slower water, that they can hide in weeds, to head to certain areas suitable for spawning, or even be taught how to swim. These things are done instinctively, passed on I presume, by some genetic coding, designed for survival.
Certainly theres genetic traits monarch butterfly's go south to a certain area but none have ever been there before as it takes 3 generations to get there .
But if fish dont learn how do they recognise those that feed them but ignore people who do not (even very similar people) remember something learnt can be passed on in the genes ,evolution is subtle changes if some fish didnt change evolution would stop the change could be natural or unnatural .
Regarding the fish maybe its rewarded its generally how kids learn you cannot smack a fish or put it on a naughty step but theres plenty of fish doing tricks if you care to look ,our male oscar used to lift the glass cover on its tank then let it drop making a noise to demand food when it spotted me (never anyone else) it was never taught to do it it did it and learnt it had an effect so carried on doing it
I think people underestimate our lesser animals ,most do not learn because they dont have a reason to ,if things dont change they stay the same.
You could say it of man theres still tribes living how they have always lived in rare places only when they need to change will they ,usually for the worse
Remember we have a saying once bitten twice shy ,we wouldnt have it if it meant nothing ,i have noticed ducks appear to know when your thinking of packing up (not actually doing it but there must be some sort of visual trigger to the ducks) but even more strangely the few carp we also have appear just after the angler has left ,they are definately not visiting every swim so i think they themselves are triggered by the ducks actions
It could be perfectly natural but its a learnt process anglers have food ,ducks find food ,fish get food ducks do not.
Its so common i know where someone has fished not by their spoor ( marks of seat etc)but where the bottom of the swim has been disturbed ,either side no change.if carp were using a set path (which they appear to if there not seen in one place they will be in two others) then all the bottom in every swim would be disturbed but there is no pattern other than where anglers have been ,if carp just followed ducks then you would see carp following ducks all the time and in our gin clear water you just dont see it .
Perhaps in america or in our rivers fish are not caught enough to learn ,perhaps there is a point where if something happens enought times it clicks and is remembered but i am sure if anything happens enough times its not forgotten ,now we catch and release even more so a fish getting caught and eaten will learn nothing
Edited by chesters1, 24 July 2017 - 08:03 PM.