By Paul Wood
The News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana, Ill.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Becky Fuller is an associate professor in the Department of Animal Biology at the University of Illinois. Her app, “BassVisionTM”, helps anglers get a leg — or a fin — up on largemouth bass by showing them how their lures appear to the fish.
Question: What gave you the idea to create this app? Do you do a lot of fishing yourself?
Answer: I originally had the idea to create this app when I was thinking about my own research. One of our projects focuses on the evolution of male color patterns in bluefin killifish. This killifish species is interesting because the color pattern is really variable among the males. The anal fins can be blue or yellow or red. Also, the blue color pattern is really abundant in swamp populations, but is absent in spring populations.
I decided that I wanted to figure out how their major predator, the largemouth bass, perceived these different color patterns in springs and swamps. But when I went to the scientific literature to figure out the basic properties of their visual systems, I was shocked to discover that there was very little known about the visual system of this fish. It was then that I realized that there was an opportunity here to bring tools that had been developed in the arena of visual ecology to the recreational fishing industry.
I fished a lot with my grandpa growing up, but it was pretty lazy fishing. My grandparents had a small cabin on a lake in Nebraska. We would drop a line with a worm off of the dock and then go to another little beach around the point to go swimming. We would come back and see if we had a fish on the line. These days I go frequently go collecting with dipnets and seines with my graduate students. In addition to studying largemouth bass and killifish, we also study darters. The killifish work is mainly in Florida, while the darter work is here in the Midwest. I also teach the ichthyology course here at the UI, so I am often in the field catching fish with the students.