Of all the factors involved in catching fish, color is most dependant on personal preference. Do I worry about color? Does color make a difference in catching fish? If so, how significant a difference? The right color choice to me won’t overcome a bad presentation or poor location. But will the wrong color negate being in the right place at the right time?
Trends are nice, but talk is cheap. When it comes down to what’s tied on to the end of your line, personal confidence is the biggest color coordinator of all. In a nutshell, the right colors breed confidence. Confidence helps us fish longer and harder. Is a black bucktail really the best lure for muskies? Or are more Muskies caught on them because that is what most anglers are throwing? Often a local preference develops due to watercolor, predominant forage, or angler use. Fish caught on a certain lure style or color encourages other anglers to try the same combination. Soon a local trend begins to develop.
Go with the flow, or against the grain? Tough call sometimes, I am always trying to put the percentages in my favor. Local success is hard to argue with, especially if fishing pressure is light and the fish are aggressive. On the other hand, if everyone’s tossing the same thing and fishing pressure borders on enormous, a different shade might be a better strategy. A different color or style of baits and keep mixing things up can and will make a difference, you must keep an open mind.
Most anglers seem more open minded about experimenting color wise for pike, perhaps because pike are more abundant than muskies and consequently more pike are caught on different color combos. Not enough muskies are caught to develop real color preferences or to feel real confident that color makes no difference. Muskies are a rare critter, even in the best muskie waters in the country. In short, experiment with everything you have in your tackle box and be sure you're fishing something that breeds confidence in what you're doing. Once your confidence is gone, good-bye productivity-unless you're lucky.
In clear to moderately clear water, steer your selections toward natural forage patterns and subdued colors, unless wind, dark skies or rain reduce visibility. In dirtier or darker water, consider enhancing visibility with brighter colors. They may be unnatural patterns, but fish can see them. You have to give them a target, because fish can’t eat what they can’t see. Fancy natural forage patterns are pretty, but they may not be necessary. Patterns tend to blur when a lure is in motion and stand out when a lure is at rest. Fast moving wobbling lures likely don’t require meticulous scale patterns, while stop and go patterns might be enhanced by a life-like array. Don’t neglect traditional colors for pike and muskies. But don’t rule out experimenting either. The best way to see if color makes the difference is if one person tosses a primary color, the other a contrasting shade. Trade back and forth to eliminate that “first cast into the spot-catches-the-most-fish syndrome.
One thing is for sure; if your confidence isn’t there, replace the offering with something that feels right. Even if color choice does nothing more then breed confidence in your ability to trigger fish, you’ve increased your odds for catching trophy pike and muskies. Confidence helps you fish better, harder and with more enthusiasm. Don’t wish for fish. Fish for fish. Make ’em bite. Color is not the primary ingredient in your recipe for success, but with an open mind it can and will make the difference some of the time.
Walleye & Northern Pike - May 11, 2019
Largemouth & Smallmouth Bass - May 11, 2019
Muskie - June 1, 2019
2019 Fishing RegulationsMN DNR Fishing Regulation Handbook for 2019
Charlie Worrath talks early season walleye for the television program Jason Mitchell Outdoors on Lake Winnibigoshish in northern Minnesota. (watch the video)
Jason Boser appearing on an episode for the television program Jason Mitchell Outdoors on Lake Winnibigoshish in northern Minnesota. (watch the video)
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