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k0walski

Different shades of LMB

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Why is it that some bass are darker than others? I went fishin the other day in one of my favorite places and I was cathing 2-3 lb largemouth. At this pond the Largemouth are really dark, (as are the other species of fish). This pond is really clear and has alot of vegetation in it. We got tired of that place and headed to a pond closer to my house and I caught a 2lbish largemouth and that fish was pale compared to the other one. The water there is murky, and little vegetation.

So... my question is... what causes this?

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Its actually what you said, in clear water bass seem to be darker, and in murky to muddy water bass seem to be pale.

The sun can penetrate through the clear water better giving the fish a Tan really, and it muddy water the tint of the water shields the sun from the bass.

just like if you go fishing without a shirt on you get tan and if you do where a shirt while fishing it shields the sun.

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This pond is really clear

There 's the answer, water turbidity or the lack of it and light penetration determine the color of the fish, fish change colors in order to camouflage himself with the surroundings. In a really muddy place bass can be silver all over.

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What they said ^^

Particularly in clear water if a bass has been in the shallows very long feeding he'll be light colored.

When you pull one out of some thick weeds they'll be very dark.

Let's put this into a workable scenerio...  You pull up to some flats and smack in front of your face you see a really dark SM or LM cruising the flats.  It should click in your mind that if any fish in this lake is catchable, it's this one.  He's just come out of whatever heavy cover he was in for one reason only.  TO FEED!  And he just started, which means he's definately hungry.

This has happened to me countless times.  9/10 times I've had them hit my bait in 1 to 2 feet of water from yards away before it even hit the dirt.

B

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I have also noticed that LMB vary in actual color from lake to lake -- in one lake near here the bass have a yellow tint to them and in another they are really blue.  Is this caused by what they are eating? or by the chemical make up of the water? or some other reason?

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Nope, it 's the color of the water and depth what determines that, for ex: Lake El Salto, Jal 3 weeks ago; the water up to 1/3 of the lake near the bank is clear, bass are dark with marks, at 2/3 of the lake the water is a lot less clear, bass caught there are light green all over, at the upper third of the lake the water is muddy, bass caught there are almost silver.

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Bass must camoflage themselves differently in El Salto than in every lake I've fished. Bass that have been cruising in the shallow clear flats for any length of time are very light. That same lake/clarity you pull them from thick cover they are almost black.

B

edit:  Ok rereading this and it came across sarcastic, which I didnt mean for it to.  What I mean is my experience has been very different than what you've described.

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Guest ouachitabassangler

It's believed by many biologists now that minerals in the water determine brightness and potential coloration in bass. Adaptation to whatever cover they are in is what causes actual shade changes. In muddy water a dark green spotched bass would stick out like a piece of new bubblegum on a new asphalt parking lot. It couldn't feed well if at all. In clear water vegetation turns darker due to increased photosynthesis, so bass need to darken up their greens. Around brown stumps and gravel they need some of those blackish/brownish spots. In clear water bass can see very well, but so can some of their prey species and many competing predators, so camofluge becomes more critical than in strained to  dingy water.

Jim

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what Raul is saying is actually true, though.  The amount of light able to penetrate to the fish will determine the darkness of its coloring.

Scientifically speaking.  Each scale on a largemouth bass contains dark pigments that expand in high light and contract in low light.  Think of it as the reverse action of your pupil.  More light, our pupils get smaller, less light, they get bigger.  The twist in the whole thing is that the amount of light that hits a bass' eye also has an affect on its color as does the color or general brightness of the bottom the fish is currently over and/or whats surrounding it.  Its a very complex thing that causes fish to be colored the way they are..and we have to remember that they're not only trying to camoflauge themselves to prey, they're also trying to protect themselves from predators overhead.  

IN the case of muddy water, the light gets scattered all over, so bass are usually a pretty blank pattern, kind of in a state of "confusion" if you will.  Fish also change color when fighting over their "territory" and when they are spawning.  Surprisingly, the dominant fish will become silvery, even though it'd seem more probable that they'd become the more prominant colored fish.  

Anyway, the order in which the pigment is effected is light penetration, immediate surroundings, and then the general area.  

Even on a bright sunny day, you can catch fish out of shade that have very little markings..even if you pulled it out of some green, green grass.  You can also catch fish that are in direct sunlight on a light bottom that are very lightly marked.  A fish on the edge of a weedline(where they can actually be reached by light) will be the most brightly colored fish.  

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Just to be more scientifically accurate Ken, the scales are translucent, it 's under the scale, in the skin where chromatophores ( cells containing melanin, a pigment ) are located, the explanation on you gave on how they work is pretty accurate.

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Guest ouachitabassangler

I listened to Mark Davis give a handy hint, and it works. You're casting a fluke shallow over deep clear water, targeting maybe some small breaking bass. A much larger bass bites. The little bass are green, the big one pale. It came up from deep darker water to bite, taking it away from the little bass. So what would ya'll change in bait selection to target the larger bass more consistently?

Jim

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im not sure what i would throw in that scenario.  well i know what i would do but i dont think its the right answer anyway.  im interested to hear the responce though and that is an interesting observation and one id probably miss on the water.  well i migh notice it but probably wouldnt put the pieces together and would just find it peculiar.

does anyone know why some bass take on a very yellow color.  i fish one pond in particular where the bass are always very yellow throughout the entire lake.

matt

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Guest ouachitabassangler

While at a BMU seminar Davis was discussing what it takes to come in with a heavy catch.

Until I heard that I had assumed there was just something wrong with a pale bass. Correctly reading those situations is one of the things that sets pros apart from the rest of us. That scenario indicated larger bass were right below the school of small bass, probably staying deep digesting from the last feeding, beyond reach of much sunlight where they often suspend for several hours. Something about the lure or feeding of the little bass allowed a freshly hungry bass to detect through the noise of a school that feeding was happening above that school of small bass. Greed could be part of its reaction.

His choice was a 1 oz Rat L Trap  that would drop deep and pass under the school, getting closer to the larger bass, eliminating bites from the small bass above the spoon. The idea was to stop wasting time catching small bass.

How many of us would be content to catch a dozen of those small bass instead of figuring out a way to get to larger bass below? Well, don't fall for that. Study every caught bass for some clue why it bit. Hollow empty belly? Pale and coming up from deep to smash a Spook? Eggs emerging? Craw stuffed full of shad and still biting? Darker green than usual? It came out of shallow weeds. Evaluate exactly what you were doing when it bit, and exactly where the bite happened. In that case you consider the bass was stuffed in the dark edge of a really green patch of weed, probably not cruising. Crusing bass look longer at a lure, while one in ambush will bite more out of reaction, so if you didn't have a reaction type lure tied on, tie it on and retrieve along the weedline.

Jim

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Just to be more scientifically accurate Ken, the scales are translucent, it 's under the scale, in the skin where chromatophores ( cells containing melanin, a pigment ) are located, the explanation on you gave on how they work is pretty accurate.

Yeah, I was trying to make it simple and was in a hurry  :-[

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OK, the color of bass is dependent on their exposure to light, which depends on season, water clarity, depth frequented, etc. The next question is how long does it take for a bass' coloration to change to adapt to a changed environment. Are they like chameleons that can do it in a few moments, or are they more like people that take a few days to get a good tan?

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Guest ouachitabassangler

I imagine it takes many hours to adjust. A bass at 30 feet didn't get there on a whim yesterday, taking plenty of time to get to whatever depth, then spending as much time at that depth as possible. When they come up from the deep they are pale, as we've described, and they stay that way. I kept them over the side on a stringer in the days before livewells, and they didn't darken on me. We called them "albino bass", believing they were just pale uncolored bass. None of those made it past the fillet board in those days, so nobody fishing would have observed anything different.

Jim

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I don't think its an instantaneous process but I also don't think that it takes a very long time..maybe something like a day or a day and a half to 2 days.  If a bass moves from one type of area to another, then it HAS to blend in or it will either be so visible it won't be able to catch a meal or some predator from above could pick it off.  Anyway, the pigment in the skin works off of sunlight so my thought would be that it only takes a little while for the pigment to be "activated", if you will.  Theres not much info around on how QUICK they change colors..so thats my best guess at it.  

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Posted by: bshaner Posted on: Aug 22nd, 2006, 2:10pm

What they said ^^

Particularly in clear water if a bass has been in the shallows very long feeding he'll be light colored.

When you pull one out of some thick weeds they'll be very dark.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You'd think it would be the other way around right????

A bass in shallow, clear water will be getting plenty of sunlight penetration making it more dark.

A bass buried under a weedbed will be a lighter color- less sunlight penetration, right.

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It all has to do with sun penetration, like a fish "sun tan" if you will. The more sun penetration, the darker the fish. In muddier water, less sun penetration, the fish is more pale... lighter in color.

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