by Bob Jensen
Whether you're fishing in open water or through the ice, the color of your lure can affect how many fish you catch. That is especially obvious when an angler is fishing through the ice and is watching a depth-finder. You see everything that goes on directly below that hole. If a fish comes in and looks at your bait but doesn't eat it, you know about it. If that happens too often, and three or four times is too often, something needs to be changed. One of the things that should be considered for change is color. There are times when fish are very color conscious. Following are some ideas on color that apply to open water and ice-fishing.
The general rule-of-thumb that many successful anglers use when selecting a lure is to go with a bright bait, something with orange or chartreuse in it, in stained or dirty water. However, some choose to start with black or purple.
In clear water, natural or subtle colors are often preferred. Some like baits that resemble the primary forage fish in the body of water being fished, but some anglers prefer a bait that looks nothing like the dominant baitfish. The theory there is, if the predator fish are seeing and eating the same thing day after day after day, something that looks completely different will be more appealing. Kind of like the person who eats hamburgers day after day after day. After a while, hamburgers lose their appeal and a hotdog looks more appealing. Give them something different and they're more likely to eat it. I don't know what fish are thinking, but I do know that sometimes in clear water they like natural looking baits and sometimes they like baits that look like nothing that swims in that lake or river or pond.
Color can be especially important in ice-fishing. Fish can really check a bait out when you're ice-fishing. The bait is only going up and down, and usually pretty slowly. In open water, if you're casting or trolling, the bait is moving, and often pretty fast. The fish in open water need to respond quickly. Under the ice, they can take their time, and if that bait isn't exactly what they want, they don't eat it. Lure action and size certainly make a difference, but so does color.
We all have our favorite colors. For walleyes, I really like baits that have some orange or chartreuse in them.
When largemouth or smallmouth are the quarry, crawdad or watermelon colors are go-to, and I also like white for smallmouths.
I like something with pink for crappies, and black for bluegills.
And then again, I've seen plenty of times when something completely different worked better than those colors, and that's what makes fishing both fun and challenging. You just never know. It often works well to start with the color you caught'em on last time. If they're still eating that color, good deal. If they're not, you need to try something else.
Some folks believe that the only reason baits are offered in different colors is so the lure-makers can sell more lures. The truth is, if that color doesn't catch fish somewhere at some time, it won't be around very long. Next time you go fishing and aren't getting bit as often as you would like, try a different color. Sometimes color will be the difference between action and no action. Information from: www.thefishingwire.com