It sounds like an angler's dream: Rub magic elixir on a lure, drop it in the water, and send fish into a feeding frenzy. While researching how the catfish brain receives and processes information, neurophysiologist John T. Caprio at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge discovered "superbait"--an enticing mixture of amino acids that causes an involuntary snapping response in fish.
When a cotton ball soaked in the concoction, dubbed Gotta Bite, is dropped into an aquarium, fish begin chomping not only on the cotton ball but also on nearby gravel. Besides benefiting fishing enthusiasts, Gotta Bite could cut costs on catfish farms: Some fish grown in captivity lose their appetites and die. Raising fish is big business in the South, where 90% of commercial catfish are from farms. An unnamed company is licensing LSU's patented technology, and Caprio is working to develop a similar bait for bass. Scientists also plan to fashion amino-acid mixtures that stimulate pike and other fish.