Through the Fish?s Eye ? The Mirror Effect

  Trout, pike, largemouth bass as well as many other fish can see relatively well even in dingy and stained water, but have you ever noticed that fish seem to always bite better when a lakes surface is perfectly calm? There is a reason for this; it is known as the mirror effect.            

  Fish are constantly adjusting to changing light; this is one reason why anglers often change the colors of lures during the day and as they fish at different depths. Changing light below the surface is not a sudden change, but rather gradual shadings of diminishing illumination from morning to midday, from midday to evening and then from evening to night. This is also true from shallow to deep and from clear water to clouded water.            

 At the surface where a lure first enters the water the change in color is abrupt. This is because when light enters the water it is bent abruptly by refraction. The light is bounced around, broken up and disrupted by ripples on the water?s surface, with much of the light being reflected back into the sky by the waters sheen on the surface. These are the factors that affect the vision of fish the most.       

 As illustrated above,  on a calm lake surface the water looks like a sheet of glass to anglers, but below, the fish are seeing something entirely different. The fish are looking up into a mirror of sorts. This partially distorts and somewhat impairs their ability to see through the surface and what is above. However, the fish can still see a bug or a lure on the surface, as well as the reflections of objects and bait that are below the surface. This is known as the mirror effect, and why you see Bill Dance and other TV Pro Anglers catching those nice bass on the calm lakes. This condition is great for fishing as well as filming outdoors.  When the water is motionless on the surface the mirror created underneath reflects large areas like a big screen television for the fish. The fish can see predators as well as prey that they could not see when the surface is distorted by choppy water.        

  In shallow water when the water is calm, fish can actually see a mirror image of the bottom and around objects. This makes foraging much more productive when looking for baitfish and crawfish for bass. It also gives the angler an advantage as well with their lure presentations. I hope that by understanding this effect will help you to understand the fish that you peruse just a little more. In future post watch for yet another way that fish us the surface as a periscope    

Happy Fishing!  

Special thanks to fellow angler Robert Jonsson from Göteborg, Sweden for the great photography and for his permission to use in this post to illistrate the enviroment in which fish live. 

Visit Robert on Facebook at:

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