One of the things I find fascinating about fishing is how angling success is never a mystery, and how post-trip, prowess afield can be explained by local religion, mythology, or science.
“Science” being only of recent invention, given how religion and mythology were the sciences of angling’s antiquity.
As I young man I was fascinated by full dress Atlantic Salmon flies, how the traditional feather wings of Europe evolved into elaborate rituals of intertwined plumage from rare jungle birds. I found them both daunting and impressive and spent many hours attempting to master their construction, as they represented the ultimate test of a tier’s skill.
Despite my fascination with their construction, I was never able to rationalize how fish that populated the Northern Hemisphere had such an unbridled lust for feathers or meat of things living South of the equator. As I pored through the hoary tomes of the period; works by the venerable Pryce-Tannatt and Kelson, it was revealed that the Salmon, being the noblest of all fishes, dined only on Butterflies, which made these lures require such brilliant colors.
While consistent with bug lore, as described by the current angling “scientists” (Swisher and Richards, Schweibert, Caucci and Natasi, etc), none of these old books mentioned the presence of enormous swarms of butterflies necessary to sustain the many thousands of large salmon that spawn in Northern Europe and live to return to the ocean …
… which was my first brush with the mythology of our sport, as I was convinced their “science” horseshit – yet was aghast that an entire generation of anglers would swallow this fanciful explanation without complaint.
As I developed as an angler, I was to learn that despite our notion of “how things work”, popular opinion is often debunked horribly by successive generations and more current Science, and this has been the case since the dawn of time.
I was thinking of this as I read the latest bit of science-fancy on salmonids …
Of our “sacred cows” perhaps the most widely accepted is the notion the color red is irresistible to fish of all species, as it is the color of blood, something that unleashes the predatory nature of fish, making them less wise and much easier to catch.
"We’ve discovered an enzyme that switches the visual systems of some fish and amphibians and supercharges their ability to see infrared light," said senior author Joseph Corbo, MD, PhD, associate professor of pathology and immunology. "For example, when salmon migrate from the ocean to inland streams, they turn on this enzyme, activating a chemical reaction that shifts the visual system, helping the fish peer more deeply into murky water."
While the research is still in its infancy, the ability to shift vision from the blue-green of saltwater to the muddy flows of Winter, may be assisted by this ability to see the shortest wave lengths of light containing red and the infrared spectrum.
I have wondered about this same phenomenon whenever I see a stream or river turned into a muddy torrent by rainfall, how do they see – and where do they go to avoid logs and debris?
While much of that information still eludes us, the Good News is the “biohacker” community insists that if you gorge yourself on liver and Paprika you can see in the Infrared spectrum too, the obvious downside is your breath will be reminiscent of a lion’s arse
… Likely it’s the same crowd that said we should smoke banana peels back in the Sixties.