Does Color Matter?
A Riddle Thus Far Unanswered
Kindly enjoy this article. It's a wry perspective...on
With all the worldwide wisdom corroborated upon web
forums...with all the collective experience shared on rivers and
lakes...the time spent together in bass boats, jon boats, canoes,
float tubes and leaky wet-butt waders...so many expert articles
divulged in monthly fishing magazines, and discussions at club
meetings, over fresh coffee at the local bait shop, chatting
during long drives to faraway fishing destinations...as deep as
we are steeped in bass fishing information, we still face a
conundrum, a riddle thus far unanswered, "Does Color
Some say it does. Some say it doesn't.
Does color matter?...in a lure?...to a fish?
Well, does your playful dog care if the frisbee you toss it is
green or pink plastic? Does your housecat paw a grey fuzzy catnip
toy more excitedly than it swipes a blue fuzzy toy? When a bass
pounds your bait the instant it hits bottom, does it care if you
tossed in a green or pink worm, or a grey or a blue one? Or was
it a hint of red flake...or a few faint flecks of purple that
excited the bass?
To me, my answer is that color does NOT matter (and here comes
the tricky part:) as long as I am tossing a color that is
catching fish. It's a twisted answer I give you, but if you
follow the banks and turns below, then lure color should never
really matter to you again, you'll never need a confidence color
nor choose a favorite. You won't have any.
I got a clear and refreshing reminder of this two weeks ago.
Please follow me here. Envision a clear, deep ledge (25 feet
deep, 150 yards offshore) that forms the main channel (the
original river bed before impoundment) and tapers up to a second
ledge (15 feet deep). Beyond this, spaced several hundred yards
apart from each other, picture three formidable reefs of rugged,
uneven rock jumbles and raspy wirebrush jutting out from shore,
with sand beaches strung between these three craggy tors.
With absolutely no wind at first, fishing was not fantastic
(not yet), but it was good! The fish that nipped were predictably
tucked up under the eaves of the offshore ledge; or you could
barely glimpse them skulking 25 feet deep in the crystal agua,
skirting the lips of giant tongue-like imprints pressed in the
ledge; or patrolling the berms of sunken wash gullies grooved
Suddenly, without a hint of its coming, a solid 20 mph breeze
forced itself out of the sky, piling sheet after sheet of
wind-driven waves directly up onto the three shoreline reefs. As
fast as the breeze was born, smallmouth immediately rose to the
occasion! A procession of smallies emptied out from under the
offshore ledges, and marched up onto the three shoals. For the
next two hours, I reaped the bounty of this windfall by capturing
over 70 smallmouth, all good ones that moved up into the shallows
because of the breeze.
Now the crux of today's editorial...that color does NOT matter
(and the tricky part:) as long as you are tossing a color that is
You see, in this gale, I tried every color in my bag, a
diversity of them. With an army of aggressive, wind-charged
smallmouth beneath the boat, I could catch a fish on any color I
tossed at them. That is, I could catch a smallmouth, within 3 or
4 or 5 casts on any color tone. However, the two hues I
originally started with that day? I could catch a fish on every
cast with those two! Indeed, those two tones had been preferred
by fish on previous trips. Now, the wind was reinforcing proof
that bass preferred those two colors above all others - on that
day. No other color I tried would work as well as those two!
Indeed, those two colors are still catching best for me about two
So far this season since starting in March, I have fished
through six distinct "color bites". What do I mean when
I say that? I mean I've used colors that definitely caught more
bass (for a time) better than any other colors. Other than that,
there's not much more to say about it. I have no solid reason why
bass preferred those colors nor can I say what natural fodder (if
any) those colors represented to bass. Indeed, they didn't
represent anything I've seen swimming in the lake lately. But I
do know that catch rates increased using a certain color - for a
few days, for a few weeks, a month or longer. So that's what I
mean by a color bite, and I can't say I've ever heard anyone else
describe one in print.
Five of the six color bites I've seen this year have ended,
fizzed out, and I have no firm plans to toss those colors at fish
again any time soon. I am not partial to any of them. They aren't
my confidence colors nor my favorites. I haven't any.
Every year I go through color bites, and in several decades,
I've not seen the color patterns repeat themselves much from year
to year. The twists and turns are never quite the same when it
comes to color.
It's July. We're over halfway through the 2002 calendar now.
Days are getting shorter. Just as always, I expect I'll fish
through several new color bites in the second half of 2002. I
have no idea (nor do I care) what these color bites will be,
because color doesn't matter to me, nor should color matter to
you, as long as you are tossing the color that's catching the