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Lenny Rudow
    Editor’s Note: Acoustical Society of America members are unlikely to know the author of the article because he is not an acoustician. The author is, however, not only world-renowned in his profession as a fisherman and boating expert, but he has been a writer and editor in the marine field for over two decades. Lenny has authored seven books on fishing and boat- ing, and he is the angler in chief at Rudow’s FishTalk magazine (see Lenny is also electronics and fishing editor for BoatUS magazine, and is a contributing editor to several other publications. His writing has resulted in multiple Boating Writers International writing contest and Outdoor Writers Association of America “Excellence in Craft” awards.
To an angler, the most important sounds are the ones heard by the fish.
Can they hear me now? That’s a question that goes through the mind of every angler worth his or her salt. Because sound can kill, kill the fishing action, that is.
At its core, fishing is an activity that basically boils down to convincing a wild creature to attempt to eat your bait or lure. And to do so, that wild creature has to be com- fortable with what’s going on around it. A scared fish won’t bite, and loud sounds often scare fish. In some set- tings, this behavior is observable. While poling through the shallow flats of Florida, for example, fly rod in hand, guides are careful to instruct their clients to remain quiet. If they aren’t, they’ll watch the fish suddenly swim off, startled and spooked.
A slamming hatch. A loud voice. A tacklebox dragged across the deck of a fiberglass boat. All of these sounds are known fish spookers. But there are also a lot of unknowns.
Some anglers believe that boat engines can scare the fish. But is this the result of the engine itself or of the propeller that engine spins? All forms of propeller-driven propulsion
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create prop noise under water, which sounds like a whirring or a whine to our human ears. The pitch and volume of the noise a propeller creates is directly related to its speed. Even “silent” electric motors still have to spin a prop. So, could a potent electric trolling motor running at maximum throttle actually be creating as much noise as a gasoline motor run at minimum throttle? But is this a sound fish can hear in the first place?
Some anglers believe that music played at a reasonable volume can help improve the bite. They may postulate that the fish are attracted by the steady beat or that it has nothing to do with fish “liking” the music and everything to do with the mellow, nonthreatening noises masking abrupt sounds, sort of like humming a tune or whistling when walking through bear country to make sure you don’t startle a wild beast bigger than you are. Or maybe music merely adds to background noise, the acoustic scene that fish quickly become acclimated to. But is this a sound fish can hear in the first place?
Some anglers believe that sound-making lures with rat- tles inside or a concave face that gurgles and pops can attract the fish. Some others believe that (particularly in calm conditions) these noisemakers can do more harm than good, scaring the fish with their loud sounds. Or maybe those lure manufacturers (who tell us how amazingly effective these offerings can be) base their marketing more on myth than reality? And of course, once more we have to ask, are these sounds fish can hear in the first place?
 Volume 16, issue 2 | Summer 2020 • Acoustics Today 91

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