Bassie, Come Home!

Scientists in Massachusetts are studying whether they can train black sea bass to respond to an underwater sound that makes them return to a specific area where they can effectively, uh, catch themselves.

No, we’re not making this up.

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Working with the benefit of a $270,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, researchers at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole say they are successfully training small sea bass to react to tones and swim to an enclosed “feeding zone” within a tank they can enter only through a small opening.

The idea behind the wild-sounding project is to determine if it’s feasible to release programmed black sea bass into the open ocean, where they would grow to market size, then swim into an underwater cage to be harvested when they hear the signal.

The Associated Press reports that scientists in Japan have used underwater tones to keep newly released farmed fish in certain areas, where they could be caught in traditional ways. But no one has ever attempted to release fish for long periods and have them return to an enclosure.

“It sounds crazy, but it’s real,” research assistant Simon Miner told the AP. He said that after playing the tone for 20 seconds, three times a day for two weeks, "you have remote-control fish."

OK, there are free-ranging cattle out West, right? Why not free-ranging fish?

Randy MacMillan, president of the National Aquaculture Association, said fish farmers would need to be convinced that open-water fish ranching is viable.

“The commercial side is going to be skeptical,” the Idaho trout farm operator opined.

But here at the Outdoor Newshound, we can’t help but think how the theory could be applied to freshwater sportfishing. It’s enough to boggle the mind of any avowed bassman.

Largemouth bass that respond to calls?

Wow, it’d be better than spring turkey hunting!