Robert U. Montgomery

Nature

Who Is 'Smarter' Than a Bass?

If you're an angler who believes that sometimes you get "outsmarted" by those wily ol' bass, I have some bad news for you.

Carp are even "smarter." That's right. The bottom feeder disrespected by so many is no dummy.

Florida bass--- Okeechobee



"From my years of experience in observing bass in the laboratory, I would have to rank them around the middle of the intelligence range: definitely smarter than trout (at least hatchery trout) but dumber than carp (no insult intended — carp are smarter than you think!)," said Dr. Keith Jones, who has long studied fish behavior for Berkley.

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"The common carp (Cyprinus carpio) are indeed among the smartest freshwater fishes, if not the smartest," said another source. "They learn well for fish. They have the longest complex learning retention of all fishes tested."

Seriously, though, it's impossible to measure fish "intelligence" in any way comparable to the way that it is measured in humans. Rather, we watch how they behave in nature, and, more importantly, in laboratories and just their response to various stimuli.

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As I reveal in
Better Bass Fishing, you’re just outsmarting yourself if you try to “out-think” bass. Yes, bass are capable of learned behavior. But they definitely aren’t the “Einsteins” of the fish world. Carp and bluegill rank higher in laboratory tests. Most importantly, though, bass (and other fish species) don’t “think” and they aren’t “smart.”

Rather, bass are selective as to
food, cover, and water, and, each spring, they are driven by the biological imperative to spawn.

Those anglers who are smart enough to recognize those needs and respond accordingly, are the ones who catch the most and largest bass. They look for water and cover that they have learned is attractive to bass during each season of the year. They learn the migration routes that fish take to those locations. They observe what bass are feeding on and try to offer baits that are similar in appearance.

Although bass are not smart, they do seem to learn to avoid some baits. That why new baits--- and new colors, to a lesser degree--- seem to produce better than older styles. For a while. We saw it happen with buzzbaits in the 1980s and soft jerkbaits in the 1990s. Chatterbaits, swimbaits, and Alabama rigs are more recent examples.

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And here's an interesting take from the
World Fishing Network:

The IQ of fish varies greatly depending on the species. It varies even further depending on individuals within any given species. Anglers need to look at the species that they are targeting for known traits and advantages that could make them more difficult to catch.

Fish can learn to avoid specific lures and noises made by anglers. In order to continue to be successful, anglers need to try new lures and colors on a regular basis. An effort should also be made to fish new areas and to make as little noise as possible.

Fish intelligence is hereditary and they can be bred to be easier to catch. Anglers should care take when harvesting fish in order to avoid selectively breeding intelligence. Smaller fish, whether intelligent or not, haven't had the chance to learn to avoid lures. Therefore, they make a better choice for harvesting.

Whether you are catching fish or not, it is unlikely that they are outsmarting you. Their intelligence is very limited. You just need to work around what they may have learned.

How Fast Can Fish Swim?

A leaping sailfish can hit 68 mph

Bass aren’t the fastest fish in the world. But no matter how quickly you retrieve that crankbait or topwater, you can’t get it away from them--- if they want it.

That’s because even the fastest reels are capable of retrieving baits at only 3 or 4 miles per hour. A bass, meanwhile, can swim in bursts of 12 to 18 miles per hour.

Most of the time, they don’t, not even when they’re feeding. Three to 4 miles per hour is closer to average. That’s because bass are pot-bellied, ambush predators. Much of the time, they would rather chow down on a slow-moving worm or injured minnow.

The key to success when you’re out fishing is not to know how fast a bass can swim, but how fast it is willing to swim. Experiment with speed until you find the right one.

With some fish, especially many salt-water species, you do want a speedy retrieve. That’s because tuna, wahoo, dorado (dolphin), billfish, and others are roving hunters that chase down their prey.

No one knows for certain how fast the fastest fish can swim. But experts estimate that a leaping sailfish can hit 68 miles per hour, based on the fact that it can strip out 100 yards of line in 3 seconds.

Other speed demons include the swordfish (60 mph), marlin (50), and wahoo (47).

Not surprisingly, the flounder is one of the slowest in the ocean, poking along at 2.4 mph, about the same as an eel.

In freshwater, the rainbow is among the fastest, capable of 23 miles per hour, while catfish have been clocked at 15 and northern pike at 10.6.

And in case you’re wondering: the flying fish can reach gliding speeds of 35 miles per hour.

Read More…

The Plastics Problem for Our Oceans--- And It's not Straws

The Plastics Problem for Our Oceans--- And It's not Straws

As someone who cares about nature and the environment, I consider people who litter our waterways, roads, parks, and other public places with their trash among the lowest of the low. If my car were equipped with a Star Trek pulse cannon, I'd have no problem obliterating anyone I caught in the act.

If I were benevolent king of this country, owing no allegiances to any special interests, I'd ban takeout from fast-food restaurants, a major source of pollution along our roads.

But let's get real: Banning plastic straws in the U.S., as has happened in San Francisco--- a city literally awash in human waste--- is idiotic and little more than politicians pretending to do something meaningful to curry favor among voters.

Why do I say that? Here's why:


plastic pollution




Read More…

Creepy Crawlies


Creepy Crawlies



The next time the fish aren’t biting, you can always skip rocks or chase frogs. But here is another fun thing that you can do: Go exploring for creepy crawlies under the rocks and logs that lie in the shallows of your favorite stream or pond.


hellgrammite

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Who Let the Frogs Out?

Who Let the Frogs Out?




My second illustrated children's book,
Who Let the Frogs Out?, will be out this fall. These books teach kids about nature and encourage them to go outside to experience it for themselves.


scene 3 low

Here's an excerpt:

* * * *
When it got dark enough, we'd chase and catch fireflies, which our parents also called "lightning bugs." One night, Matt said that we should feed some of the bugs to a toad. "I'll bet his belly would light up," he said.

And he was right. It did! A little ball of light bounced up and down on the road in the dark as the toad hopped away. We laughed until our sides hurt. And the toad got a free supper, so I think that he liked it too.

Matt was like the "mad scientist" of our group that we called "The Four Musketeers." He made the best grades and knew lots of stuff that the rest of us didn't. My name is Bobby. And I tell you all about our gang--- Matt, Carl, Benny, and me--- in
Who Let the Bugs Out? If you haven't read it, you should!

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You can check out
Who Let the Bugs Out? at my Amazon author page. I also have Bass Fishing for Kids in Kindle format.

https://www.amazon.com/Robert-U-Montgomery/e/B005J1K9T2/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Pets, as Well as Wildlife, Endangered by Discarded Fishing Tackle, Line

dog hook

Discarded fishing line, especially with attached hooks and baits, maims or kills a multitude of fish and wildlife species annually. I've written about this often, encouraging anglers to pick up after themselves, as well as the slobs who give our sport a bad name by tossing their discarded line and lures, as well as other trash, in the water and along the shorelines.

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Pippa and the Fox

fox1

I can't make up this stuff!

During our afternoon walk, Pippa darted off to my left to chase squirrels as we passed through a patch of woods. Seconds after she did, a young fox crossed just in front of me, going the same direction.

If he saw me, he didn't show it. But he definitely noticed Pippa. He stopped and studied her as she sniffed around a tree. Then he watched intently as she left the woods to roll and moan in some tall grass, as she does every day.

He was only about 10 feet from me and finally I said, "Hey, you," just to get his attention.

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A More Innocent Time

How did you discover that Santa Claus isn't real?

As a college composition teacher, I asked my students to write essays about that. Following the obligatory moans and groans expressed for every assignment and some pretend indignation that I had spoiled the holiday with this revelation, they wrote wonderful stories of childhood innocence lost.

As a writer and editor, as well as teacher, I can "read" the motivation in someone's writing and I have no doubt that this assignment moved them, as they shared their memories. Some were funny. One was tragic. All were insightful. With their permission, I shared the stories with the class, as we all came to realize that almost everyone who celebrates Christmas has had this experience.

My own is what prompted that assignment, as well as my book
Under the Bed: Tales From an Innocent Childhood. You can read how I made the discovery in the essay by the same name. Also, you can read about a secret Santa who brought presents to a Jewish friend and her family in "The Shiny Red Fire Truck."

Overall,
Under the Bed is about growing up during a more innocent time, before we allowed so much of our lives to be ruled by technology. It's about family vacations in the station wagon, crazy relatives, and playing outside until dark during the summer. It's about a time when the new television season was a big deal in the fall and kids fell asleep with their transistor radios under their pillows, listening to rock and roll music.


Robert Montgomery - Copy

Here's Why Nature Is Good for Kids:

Laura and Lily fishing

It builds confidence. The way that kids play in nature has a lot less structure than most types of indoor play. There are infinite ways to interact with outdoor environments, from the backyard to the park to the local hiking trail or lake, and letting your child choose how he treats nature means he has the power to control his own actions.

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Fan Letter for Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies: Growing Up With Nature

This letter was sent to me by a young man. It contains wonderful insights from a young man whose father tells me that he is on the autism spectrum.
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Dear Robert Montgomery,

I love your book. I love it because I love the outdoors and everything about it. I agree that kids today use computers too much. I also love this book because it teaches me about everything from fish to frogs, toads to crawdads.
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Pippa and Zeus: Tales of Two Lost Dogs

Just about six years ago, I lost my best friend, Pippa.

I had adopted her a few months before. She was an adult dog who had spent her first two years of life in a shelter, and adjusting to life in the outside world was both exhilarating and frightening for her.

For example, with a stream-lined body, she was born to run, and now she could. And she did, often streaking in joyful manic circles around the yard after we came back from long walks. She daily rolled on her back in the grass, moaning ecstatically. And when it was just the two of us, she was the happiest dog in the world.

But strangers frightened her. So did sudden noises. And on that fateful day six years ago, a week before Fourth of July, someone set off firecrackers early on a Saturday morning.


Pippa loves rolling in the grass

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Kids' Book Not Just For Kids!



First feedback for my new illustrated children's book, Who Let the Bugs Out?, came from four grandparents, and they all loved it!

And, no, they didn't love it because their grandchildren liked it. Their grandkids weren't around when they read it. They personally loved it!

I made the target audience for the book ages 9 to 11, believing that younger advanced readers also can enjoy it on their own. But I also suspected that grandparents who read the book to their grandchildren might like the mystery just as much as the kids because of the setting and the time, which was before cell phones and video games, when kids played outside until their parents called them in at dusk.

Meanwhile, first kid feedback was forwarded from someone who bought copies of the book for her son and his buddies. Here is what she said:

"We got them! Already sat down and read it! The kids liked it! They want to try and play 'kick the can.'"

In the book, I explained that Bobby and his friends played that game on summer evenings, as they waited for the fireflies to come out. Of course, fireflies are the "bugs" mentioned in the title of the book.

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kick the can copy

My first children's book was inspired by Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies: Growing Up With Nature, another of my books. Chasing and catching those little flashing beetles was a big part of my summer fun, as it was for many others from that more innocent time. Here's an excerpt from the chapter "Nature's Night Lights":

If you grew up in a rural area or even in a subdivision near woods, you probably chased fireflies on summer nights. It’s a tradition as uniquely American as baseball and Fourth of July picnics.

In my neighborhood, we competed. We darted about, grabbing as many of the little illuminative beetles as we could and stashing them in mayonnaise jars. Then we’d count each stash to see who caught the most, before releasing them to once again light up the night in their search for mates.

A former student of mine, Kathy Tyler Paul, told me that she and her friends used jars of lightning bugs as lanterns when they played tag. And Matt Ellis, a friend and host of the Outdoor Scoreboard podcast, said that his father fed the insects to a toad on their front porch.

“When the toad ate the fireflies, we would see them glowing in its belly,” he recalled. “That was entertainment right there, for a little kid in the country.”

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Sadly, not as many fireflies are around today as there were just a few decades ago, according to
Firefly.org, which includes both of my books in its educational presentations to kids.

“The problem is that in America and throughout the world, our open fields and forests are being paved over, and our waterways are seeing more development and noisy boat traffic,” the website explained. “As their habitat disappears under housing and commercial developments, firefly numbers dwindle. Logging, pollution, and increased use of pesticide may also contribute to destroying firefly habitat and natural prey," the website says.

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Finally, here's a little something from
Scientific American that I'll bet you didn't known about fireflies:

"Flashes are the firefly language of love. 

"Fireflies use flashes as mating signals. The flashes that you see in your yard are generally from males looking for females. They flash a specific pattern while they fly, hoping for a female reply. If a female waiting in the grass or bushes likes what she sees, she responds back with a flash of her own.
"They will engage in this twinkling 'conversation' until the male locates the female and they mate. Each species has its own pattern—a code that lets individuals identify appropriate mates of the same species."

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LINK

Here's the link to firefly.org

https://www.firefly.org/

Welcome

Nature was my first love, and time has not diminished the passion.

Nature also was my teacher. From her, I learned about love and loyalty, life and death, kindness and compassion. And yes, the birds and bees.

My books, both fiction and non-fiction, are a tribute to my first love and mentor. Read them and you will know me. Read them and, I hope, you will learn, laugh, cry, and maybe even wax nostalgic about your own time spent in the outdoors, especially as a child. Read them and, I hope, you will be inspired to spent more time in nature.

And take your kids along. Youngsters in today's world are more in need of that introduction than any of generations past.

Share my books with them too, especially
Who Let the Bugs Out?, which I wrote especially for young readers.

Another I wrote with adults in mind, but children discovered it and enjoy many of its stories as well. At a book signing, one little girl told me that "the one about the toads" was her favorite in
Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies: Growing Up With Nature. I've included an excerpt from that tale at the end of this post.

I'll add more excerpts from my books occasionally on this site, as well as news about them. I'll also include articles, essays, and stories about nature, animals, and the outdoors, including my adventures, some intentional and others not so much. Maybe I'll even write about writing from time to time.

Please check back to find out what's new. Now here's that excerpt from the story about the tiny toad invasion of my grandmother's house, and how I might have been to blame:

* * * * * *

I’m not sure how much time passed, maybe thirty minutes or maybe an hour. Sprawled on the kitchen floor, I was intently drawing cowboys when my grandmother screamed. As my grandfather came running, she pointed frantically toward the door of my bedroom.

I’m not sure how it happened. When I looked later, the box was overturned. Probably it flipped over when I threw it under the bed. But who is to say? Possibly the toads had climbed on each others’ backs and popped off the lid. As they marched out of the bedroom door, they seemed to be engaged in a coordinated counter-attack.

My grandmother already was infamous for taking off her dress in the front yard when a grasshopper fell down her back. Her response to the toads was just as noteworthy. As their collective mass spread like some Biblical plague, swallowing up the linoleum floor, she jumped from chair to table, screaming “Ernest! Do something!”

From there, time blurred. But here is what I know: Some little known, but immutable law of science must state that toads placed in a cigar box under a feather bed will multiply exponentially.