WON BLOG By George Kramer
Garnering (or even giving) credit for contributions to the pool of knowledge or the advancement of certain science is natural occurrence. Over history, certain individuals have received credit for their fostering or advancing certain ideas or espousing certain conclusions, which then become entrenched in the thinking of the day.
In the scientific world, Ptolemy, the Greek or Egyptian, depending on what you ascribe to, put forth theory that basicall concluded that the Earth was the center of the universe. He even came up with tables to substantiate his “truths.”
Of course, he was dead wrong, but it took almost 14 centuries before somebody call him on it. The Pole, Copernicus, then got credit for a new view of the relationship of the heavenly bodies, which began a whole new trend in scientific study.
But new discoveries continue, and knowledge that was thought to be solid as granite suddenly crumbles. Like what happened between 1950 and a couple of years ago? My sure knowledge that there were nine planets in our solar system was shattered when someone figured out that Pluto really wasn’t a planet.
How can that happen?
Similarly, think of all we know, or proclaim to know about bass and bass fishing. We hear it said that “a bass is a bass” wherever you find it. But at what point is it behaving instinctively and at what point is its behavior a response to its environment?
For many years—and well before I ever made an intentional cast for the species—it was thought the black bass was shoreline dweller, regardless of the time of year. Then along came Buck Perry, whose efforts were directed off the banks, which led him to claim that most fish (bass) were not on the bank, but rather off shore.
Perry has been called the “Father of structure fishing” and his precepts are still followed today, and yet, his approach doesn’t even begin to address more recent observation. That is, instead of topographical or physical features, we are beginning to understand that beyond those hard components, there are, as Bill Siemantel suggests, “soft structures” as well.
Soft structure might include shadows caused by cliffs or clouds or a riffled water surface or even a dense school of bait. Of a similar ilk might be mudlines, temperature clines, even layers of algal growth—anything that might provide an advantage for a predator fish—if only for a few fleeting minutes.
We’ve had hints of this in the past, but it’s hard to break free from old thinking (see Ptolemy). For example, scientists have noted that in a white, shallow plastic tank, bass would position near a single black line painted on the side of the tank. There was no “object” present, but the fish behaved as if there were.
I’m not suggesting we disparage those who have received credit for their contribution in the past. Knowledge is not static, yet at any given moment in time, all we have is what we have. But the lessons we have learned in astronomy (and so many other fields) suggests whatever we think we know, may not be everything there is to know.
So be careful with who gets the credit.
Bass columnist George Kramer, who did not invent the backlash, but may have perfected it, can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.