The Skeptical Fish at Bruneau Sand Dunes

Fishin' at the sand dunes

The fish at this little lake in Bruneau Idaho were skeptics. I am standing on a dock that stretches out 20 feet on the surface of the water. The water was clear; 8 feet deep at the halfway point. Jack, my son, could see dozens of fish and this made him excited to catch one. We were there with his boy cousins. Everyone had fishing poles except me. I had a camera.

Let me explain why these fish were skeptics. All five boys had baited hooks lowered into the water. Surrounding every hook was 5 to 8 fish and none of them attempted to take a bite. They floated 8 inches from the hooks in a circle. Each boy was looking at the bait and then the fish. Each fish was looking at the bait and at each other. This scene lasted 30 minutes or so. It was a fool’s standoff.

Finally, Uncle Scott tried to catch one with his net. He slowly lowered it into the water. Every inch he lowered it into the water the fish backed up an inch. He patiently waited for the fish to make a move. The fish had more time then Scott. His net was black. We joked “What’s that black hole? Hey Frank, swim into that black net. Then tell us what it is.”

Are fish smart enough to know when something is phony and dangerous? I have absolutely no experience studying the behavior or intelligence of fish so I am asking. Do they know when something is dangerous? We were using powerbait. It’s supposed to “drive fish crazy.” What it did for us was “Drive boys crazy”. No one caught a fish.

After the standoff with the local fish the boys had an informal casting contest. Who could cast the farthest? Wesley, he’s the oldest.

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