When some “authority” — whether it’s a big name pro angler, a seminar speaker, outdoor writer or TV fisherman — tells you that to solve whatever fishing problem he is discussing you must try to “think like a fish,” he is about to lead you down a dead end path. Turn to the next article in the magazine, put the book down or change the channel. Whatever you do, don’t take his advice at face value. How can you “think like” a creature that doesn’t think? Invariably, he is about to tell you to put yourself in the fish’s situation, and imagine what you would do. That’s not thinking like a fish, it’s imagining that the fish would think like you!
Fishermen as a whole try to answer too many questions about what a bass will do and why it will do it by trying to transfer the way we might act in similar circumstances to the fish. But fish are not little humans with scales and fins, and don’t have any intellect as we know it. We weigh various factors and make reasoned judgements. Fish simply react based on survival instincts. To solve the problem, you don’t have to “think like a fish”, you need to understand its instincts and its physical needs and limitations, as well as the limitations of and opportunities afforded by the environment it lives in, and use your human intellect and deductive abilities to figure out what the fish will do, based on those factors.