COLORS What, When, Why?
Lure color questions are arguably the most frequent info artificial lure enthusiasts ask. What is your favorite color for fishing Steinhatchee? I am going to fish Cedar Key, what color do you suggest? I’ve always fished natural colors, what’s up with dirty chartreuse and hot pink (have not found a hot pink mud minnow, ever!). What did you catch’em on, what color?
I begin with lessons learned from my father while chasing bass in the Atchafalaya Basin. JV was a master top water popping bug fly fisherman. His unaltered approach was to use black bugs at night because of the natural silhouette presentation; but, as soon as day light approached, he switched to a frog pattern bug. He was very leery of the lighter color bug’s reflection in the moon light; not natural, could not have it! JV’s theory supports the old adage dark lure in dark water/cloudy sky conditions; light lure in clear water/clear sky conditions. Search “lure color + water depth” for volumes of information.
My home waters in The Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve near Keaton Beach/Steinhatchee are very clear filtered by miles of eel and turtle grass. My preference is translucent lures with contrasting color combinations; experience has proven these lures are consistent producers (copper crush, chartreuse crush, flo pink/chartreuse, holo silver, amber, mullet, Glo, pearl white/red head). My approach is to produce translucent dark melon rather than a solid dark melon.
A few other ideas:
- Gather your own information with regards to bait fish activity, water conditions (temperature, tide, visibility); don’t rely on the other guy or media reports.
- Observe the type of bait fish, holding patterns, and this info may be the deciding factor. Juvenile ballyhoo along spartina grass, holographic turquoise, pearl, or Glo produce strikes. Fall brown shrimp run, copper crush, amber, dark melon, or Cajun coffee match the food source the fish are targeting.
- Cold water conditions, the bright colors (pink, chartreuse combos, white red head) historically produce activity. Winter 2014, mullet and mullet/chartreuse wore out 25+inch speckled trout in clear water over rock patches. Stomach remains revel a small bait fish the SLICK profile and mullet colors closely resembled. The same area produced $$ fish on Glo with heavy overcast conditions during an early spring tournament.
- Recently, dirty chartreuse/orange produced redfish and trout in very dark water fished around schools of mullet with blue bird skies. The copper crush color produced a few fish; however, the mullet color was ignored. Late Fall 2014, the mullet SLICK produced a 29.5 inch trout in the same general area with low light conditions. Chartreuse appears to penetrate the water column the deepest. Did the bright skies aid the chartreuse color or the low light conditions help the mullet produce an enhanced silhouette or all of the above?
The inshore flats are dynamic in nature, constantly changing water conditions, bait fish migrations, tide fluctuation, and weather conditions affect all these parameters. Fish log documentation of every trip and willingness to reject the norm eventually answer the lure color questions in your home waters.
Capt. Joey Landreneau