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Color and water temperature

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http://www.bassresource.com/bass_fishing_forums/YaBB.pl?num=1157388229/0

In the thread listed above, the question arises of thinking like a baitfish.  I recently heard a very experience angler say that water temp, color of bait, and thinking like a baitfish will catch more fish.

I know color makes a difference.  And I agree water temperature makes a difference because the thermocline moves.  I don't understand exactly how that works and I don't understand how this effects bait selection.  Does color and temp. go hand in hand?  Does cooler temp mean different colors?

I also have a hard time understanding why the darker the water the darker the color, the brighter the water conditions, the brighter the bait.  Why is that?  I would think it would be the opposite.

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To answer one of your questions with my opinion,

Does cooler temps mean different colors?

Although it may seem that way,I feel that water clarity and seasonal patterns are what helps to determine good lure color selection.

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at least in the case of darker water=darker colors i always think it has to do primarily with contrast.  it helps them stand out more.  at least that imho.  personally i generally do not use many bright colors.  if the water is especially clear and the sun is out i use a lot of natural colors.  i have a lot of natural and dark colors in my repetoire but only a few bright colors.  i do occasionally add some dip dye or a chartreuse tip to a dark bait in murky conditions.

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After futher reading about the thermocline (refreshed my memory), I understand more about how water temperature affects where the fish are due to comfort level.  The only thing I can relate temp. of water and color selection is the deeper they suspend, the darker the color bait.

Here is where I'm still confused.  Many people here have mentioned "seasonal patterns" and seasonal bait selection.  Can somone outline a bare basic guidline to seasonal bait selection?  For an example: March - May spawning bass prefer crankbaits, c-rig lizards, and spinnerbaits; June - August bass prefer deeper crankbaits and topwater in late afternoons.

Something basic and simple like that.  I'm lost when it comes to winter fishing too so a year round seasonal outline would be very helpful.

Thanks a lot guys! :)

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Guest ouachitabassangler

That's going to take us in several directions to discuss adequately.

Here's a for instance. Right now our thermocline is at 18 feet downwind side, 15 feet upwind side of lake, 80 degrees, after an extended NW wind. The warmer water is of course above the thermocline and is clear to green, and that's where most DO and sunlight penetration is, so that's the depth to look for plankton and baitfish. In an upland reservoir, below that level is ultra clear water due to lack of living things. Bass will slip into that colder water below to ambush baitfish above them, but they don't rest there where it's also darker due to lack of sunlight. A lure that absorbs light and has high contrast, like a black & blue jig, can be fished well on bottom even a little below the thermocline because a bass can hear, feel, and eventually see through clear water towards bottom where contrast is much more important than particular colors.

But fishing at or slightly above the thermocline is far more effective when suspending, bass usually opting for the deepest they can go and remain, preferably around structure or cover right at the thermocline. Down there a contrasting lure might be the best choice. If the lure depends on reflecting lots of light to be seen, it needs to be used in sunny water. That's why it's often better to use a dark coloered blade on a spinnerbait during low visibility.

I choose lure colors according to depth of the bass and visibility, then according to their aggressiveness. The bass seasons put them at general depth ranges. In spring there is no thermocline, so bass can be at any depth from pretty deep in post post-spawn through post spawn. In the colder water there is little plankton growth, so not much water color, visibility high even deep. But, in colder water bass are far less active until warm enough to get serious about the spawn, so they will more likely begin chasing fast moving lures (feeding response) and continue with reaction bites.

Currently I want stained water, not clear. Green water means potential for a complete food chain. All my fishing is in less than 18 feet of water this week. Visibility is good for 3 feet, fair below that, so I'll choose crankbaits that show up well with some flash, especially if the surface is disturbed by waves. When fishing at 18 feet I'll opt for dark for greater contrast where less sunlight gets through due to plankton-clouded water. Topwater choices are based on belly color, whether bass can easily see the belly contrasted against the glow above, and considering how far up they can see in stained water. If too stained I go darker belly. If in ultra clear water I'd probably select a clear topwater to mostly give a silhouette plus commotion, not revealing too much artificial features.

I better stop there before I get confused. :-?

Jim

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Guest ouachitabassangler

I just read that over and thought to emphasize some things I only hinted at about color. In dark water it takes solid colors whether bright or dull. Contrast! Chartreuse contrasts well in dull dingy water, and so does fire-tiger, black, bright red & white. It's a good time to try a strawberry or bubblegum worm. I wouldn't use a green & brown frog pattern in muddy water, for instance. In ultra clear water I start my choices around camoflauge, the harder to see the better. My favorite topwater in really clear well lit water is a clear Spook. For worms in clear water I prefer simply a nearly see-through (translucent to transparent) watermelon worm with or without colored flakes, and pumpkinseed if fished on soil/gravel/rock bottoms since the bottom colors usually match that.

I carry a big selection of just-in-case colors, but I have some trays with favorites that I've found always work in various water color/temp situations at least locally. Most of the time those work elsewhere, even in Oregon and Virginia. Confidence colors. There might be a better color reecommended by locals there, but if I stick to the ones that work for me, I'm satisfied. I'm not going to take a shuttle to the nearest Cabela's around Norfolk to own a partticular local favorite. It's possible to mis-spend fishing time getting too involved worrying about colors.

Jim

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Thanks Jim! ;)

If I could only download your knowledge of fishing.....

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On the same philosophy, why is a red trap only good in winter months?

Same clear waters, why doesn't the red trap catch fish in the summer, yet summer see's chrome and blue as number one?   Throw that chrome and blue or black back in the winter and I'll spank you 95% of the time with an orange/red trap of some sorts.

Temps aren't the answer either.    IMO.  

Thermolcline only sets up part of the year, the rest of the year its not present.

My theory is simple science, earth science.      When the sun is coming closer to earth in the spring, the sun gives off a blue spectrum which isn't noticable to human eyes.    Blue spectrum in botanist world means spring and plant growth.

When the sun is going away from earth, as in late fall approaching, the spectrum is organish red.   It is the color, not cooler weather that tell the fruit trees fall is coming along with length of daylight.

The suns proximity to earth gives different light rays which aren't noticable to humans.    What we have read in magazines and experts on a bass' eyes, which are cones and rods are, is they are very light sensitive.

They act as filters.    It is no different if you was to put on rose colored shades, every thing would be filtered out with red, kinda like the sun and its spectrum.

This is a good expeirment for anyone.    Ever see those prisms hanging from peoples mirrors in their cars.

I have one that in the spring, it hangs in one window, in the spring, the wall has greenish/purpulish/ blue reflection on a white wall.     As summer nears, the same postition yields blue.    Now as fall approaches, its greenish yellow.  Late Nov. it will be yellowish orange, And in the winter it will be reddish/orange.

The position never changes in the window, the sun does.   The difference is the distance is rise and passes by.    The prism hasnt changed, but the colors change thru the seasons.  

I think bass see colors as the sun goes.   Until someone can explain why red traps are killer in the winter and not in the summer, I'll stick with simple science.

Matt.

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I'm not sure on sciences or behavioral patterns or anything like that, but everything thusfar sounds pretty solid.  I really can't support or deny any of that factually, so I'll just outline my yearly bait/location migrations in a simple list form.

Winter-Deep and steep dropoffs, warmer water, occasionally bank beating when the days are a little warmer than normal.  I'll throw finesse worms, slow roll small-medium spinnerbaits, deep diving suspending crankbaits worked slowly, bottem bouncing with jigs, or use a hard plastic jerkbait.  Colors:  Red, blue, orange, watermelonseed, chartruse

Spring-Prespawn/Spawn/Postspawn staging waters (inside and outside coves, points going into deep water, shallow water grassbeds, and laydowns)  I like to use Flukes, jigs, shallow crankbaits, senkos in wild colors, and fat ikas.  Colors: Chartruse, Mertholite, White, Watermelonseed

Summer-  Deeper water humps, points, ridgelines, creek channels, grassbeds and weedlines.  I like medium diving crankbaits that mimic bluegill, fat ikas, senkos, flukes, jigs, and topwaters.  Colors: Watermelon seed, blue/black, black/chartruse, green pumpkin, and bluegill.

Fall-  EVERYWHERE!!!  Mainly coves and feeder creeks.  Grassbeds, timber, and deep structure all get attention too though.  Shallow cranks, fat ikas, senkos, flukes, jigs, topwaters, mid level crankbaits, and topwaters.  Colors- White, shad, bluegill, watermelonseed, green pumpkin, blue/black, black/chartruse.

Hope that helps somehow.  (I fish gin clear water 99% of the time)

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thinking like a baitfish will catch more fish

Do you think that baitfish think?

Of course not, only figuratively speaking.  I was only referring to think like as in "if I were a fish, what would I like, how would I react, what are my instincts, what does my diet consist of, how would I act under certain weather conditions and water color / temp., etc.  Not, if I were a fish, I'd be thinking about that stupid angler in his fancy Ranger bassboat with his $15.00 Lucky Craft Sammys and his $300 GLoomis rod.....(I'm joking here).

Yes, fish are behavioral much like many animals, reptiles, and other species.  Only figuratively speaking in the metaphorical sence.

By the way guys, I was not referring to clear water or stained water specifically.  Yes, water color and clarity does matter and that does change the color of bait presentations.  I think Jim explained it to me the best by stating that clear water requires almost transparent or natural colors.  That makes plenty of sense.

Now to be specific.

In muddy water, what colors are prefered??  My instincts tell me that something bright is best.  White, yellow and possibly chartreuse, or maybe black and blue.  Am I right?  I would also think that red and orange would be good colors for muddy water in late summer / early fall.

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Guest ouachitabassangler

I've seen a lot of variety in muddy waters. Some seemed awfully black, like soot in water, not really colored water, just water with insoluble matter, but a spinnerbait blade showed up 2-3 feet. It was muddy water. Then I've seen some and just loaded the boat up when it looked more like caramel syrup. I didn't want it in my motor grinding up seals. In that stuff there wasn't an inch of visibility for any color. And there's a wide variety of colors of muddy water. I think I've done best trying to just use a color that really stands out in the water, one that stays visible for at least a foot or two down. In every choice in such water it would have to be opaque, dense, no light passing through, and I agree, a bright solid color, counting black & white as colors. Chartreuse seems to fade in heavily stained water. Black against blue isn't very flashy, but it is one of the best contrasts of colors there is for some odd reason. Great for dark water. Bass see that very easily.

As for red Rat-L-Traps only working in winter, that isn't the case here. I guess it's a regional thing. It's a good color year around, especially in pre-spawn and fall. I have every color Diamond Shad put out, but have only replaced the red ones I lose occasionally. Same for Rat-L-Traps. Red is good anytime crawfish are red, or when water has low visibility, maybe low because the sun is low and light penetration isn't nearly as good as in August when the sun is high. It's a good color most evenings, and both baits are great at night regardless of color.

I doubt any human knows for sure yet. We can believe, though. Whatever works for me I believe, and I believe some things I hope for. Maybe that's like always filling the livewell before taking off. That's a super confidence builder.

Jim

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Jim,    How many guys do you see in the summer throwing strictly red traps?

Can't say I've seen any footage or summer reports using a solid red/orange pattern.  I refer to past TV coverage because seeing is believing for others.   How many times do you see anyone at this time of the year giving advice on throwing red traps?    I hear chrome and blue or black backs alot, but no suggestions on reds.

Yes I've seen an orange blade or two used in off colored waters.

Everybody saw the ELITES all year.    After spawn, how many red/orange traps did you see?    This covers a wide area across the united states.

Clear waters translucents and ...........Same old standard rules for color selection as always for years.    

Why?   Why is red/orange in clear water in the winter so good and not in other times of the year in clear water?   Regions..........???????

Since regional seems to make a point with you, after spring passes and summer is in steady swing, blood worm colors like strawberry, plums and other similar colors starts working, but doesnt' work as well in other times of the year.  

You don't think that when indigo kicks into the spectrum it plays apart of bass seeing purpleish reds?       I know in my biomedical engineering classes, when studing laser and spectrums, that due to different times of the year, we must tweak our laser for colors to offset shades from the skies.       Don't know if my analogy is correct, but applied with science and lasers its dead on.     I didn't not pursue a career in the laser industry outside of the medical field, such as concert laser light shows, but do work on laser in the medical field.   Same principals, different application.

Regional would play a part as the sun passes closer in some areas and not others, thus a difference in patterns always occurs throughout the states.

Hookem

Matt.        

Something for the guys to think about, because no one else has a reason other than experience in what has worked for years.

Just my theory.   And that could be out in left field,.

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As for red Rat-L-Traps only working in winter, that isn't the case here. I guess it's a regional thing. It's a good color year around, especially in pre-spawn and fall. I have every color Diamond Shad put out, but have only replaced the red ones I lose occasionally. Same for Rat-L-Traps. Red is good anytime crawfish are red, or when water has low visibility, maybe low because the sun is low and light penetration isn't nearly as good as in August when the sun is high. It's a good color most evenings, and both baits are great at night regardless of color.

always filling the livewell before taking off. That's a super confidence builder.

Jim

Jim, your quote pretty much agrees that red/orange traps are good in the fall and winter or pre-spawn as you called it.  Just what I said.   You also say good year around,  but as seen on TV, you can't say the pros are using the color red as seen all summer to make their checks.

You also make reference to the sun, which is my point, the sun plays a roll in how colors appear at different times of the year.

Hookem

Matt

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Guest ouachitabassangler

Matt, your case is compelling and deserves more thought. However, I've not noticed times when another color trumped a red or orange Rat-L-Trap whenever those baits are a best choice. There are lots of days bass won't chase down any bait no matter the color, so a Trap isn't a logical cjoice. Lots of pros would never be seen fishing a Trap. They are considered a beginner's lure, cast and wind it in.

Understand that red is a mandatory color in all my fishing. If a Trap isn't right maybe a Shad Rap is, or mabe slower down to a tube sinking straight down. All will have at a least a red hook and some red markings to imitate gill flare. Always. My favorite lure color...red. It produces. All months.

As for which period red is at its best, I pick pre-spawn in spring, around late March into April. They are good, not the best, during post-spawn and up to about water temp 80. The only time I'd never throw a Trap is sight fishing spawn beds. The best lures stick around and aggravate bass to bites, and red is an excellent choice. Traps in general begin falling back as slower baits take over in hot water. My second best time is coming up this fall, in schooling shad with bass around. Screaming delight. Red Rat-L-Trap or red Diamond Shad, or small red-bearing Shad Rap.

Baitshops have had a terrible time keeping them in stock. Tournaments roll into town and those get snapped up. You see all the other colors, but nothing in red or orange. "They're on order." A baitshop named "Jim's Red Baits" might make a fortune. But too many anglers don't think about that, choosing one color about as easily as any other. Most never experiment with colors enough to detect any advantage in finding the right color. They are more likely to go with what's popular. "Well, they are all liking this Plum Red worm here. Oh my, I'd better re-order. That Tequila Sunrise is selling fast, too. Been a good one all summer." That probably kills curiosity for most, no experimenting. You grab 5 bags of each. Red might have been hotter, maybe white with a chartreuse tip, but maybe some walk away feeling a little superior already, got the inside line.

I avoid dock talk like the plague. I give it, but don't take it seriously. By the time it's told a dozen times the bass have figured it out. Some guy caught 30# one day over at Buckville and for the next month baitshops sold 3,000 bags of his bait choice. I'll go straight to red, white, black, or very natural with no actual colors, or clear. Those always work.

The answer could be far more complicated than our posts have summed up to. Or it might be as simple as red being a primordial barbaric color that has always signaled a feeding frenzy. If so maybe it's a function of laziness/willingness. Does Mr. Bass feel like doing a 100 yard dash this morning chasing breakfast down, incited to barbarism, or not? The only scientific factor might be whether there's enough light for red to refect back to the fish.

Jim

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I hold high respects to both Matt Fly and ouachitabassangler.  Both really have good points and an obvious amount of knowledge.

But I have to say....

Get em' Jim!! ;D

Matt lost me when he started talking about laser spectrums and b-i-o-l-o-gical something or other....my brain was hurting after reading that explanation.  Jim's is just pretty straight forward.  Red produces period.  I would have to agree on that.

Whether a red trap is good or bad in the summer, I wouldn't know.  I have a severe case of the "trap curse" this summer and I have not been able to use them enough.  Everytime I throw one, I loose it in some fasion.  Whether it hangs up or I threw it too hard and snapped my line.  Only with this one type of bait have I lost so many.  I lost 3 blue and chrome 1/2oz. rattle traps in two weeks.  I gave up after that.  I'll try again this fall with the red trap and see what happens.  I bet a bright trap in red or dark speckled blue produces well at night.

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I hear alot of guys talk about red baits.  I have a hard time catching fish off red.  I jumped into the red rage years ago and baught traps, lizards, etc.  Yeah I still fish the same natural colors.  Some reason in MO. I just cant catch fish off red.  If I throw a craw or shad crank I will catch them, red nope nada.

Most of the lures I throw are natural occurring colors

Greens, browns, whites, blacks, blues

Those are the colors I prefer, maybe because of my style of fishing.  Its just what I have the most confidence in and I know when I fish they will work.

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Sorry jb,   I try not to get to technical.   I have a biomedical degree in engineering, I work with medical lasers and could persue lasers in other avenues such as concert lighting shows, arena light shows and such.

For outdoor applications, like a photographer who has to measure light intensity, so does a tech with a laser.

Different times of the year, more colors are apparent in the color spectrum.

You've seen a rainbow before no doubt,    where do those colors come from?

One thing about science, its always proven using expeirments.    The same can be said about fishing and Jim and other fishermen, you can't beat field tests and that comes from years of just fishing and knowing what worked best.

I also respect Jim, Raul, RW, LBH, DDbasser,Rolo,Triton Mike, rattlingrougue and lots more on here because they just make sense.   Even Senko77 seems to have the knack for big bass.

Lord forgive for leaving someone off the list, not on purpose, because theres over 6000 members and growing.

You could say we have generations of information from all walks of life.

Hookem

Matt

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Guest ouachitabassangler

We could get so technical 99% of readers would come away without a single useful fact. I love science and spent years working with scientists from the government and universities, private consultants, you name it, even some aJapanese that barely spoke English, but very thorough and intelligent from their reports. I try to insert "safe" science if I've found it welcomed elsewhere, but so much of it is so foreign unless you've studied it. RangerMan ought to eloborate on that. I devour the "FISHERIES JOURNAL" when I get time, but hardly anyone here would like that stuff.

Jim

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You guys just make me feel stupid..... :D

Reading Fisheries Journals, light spectrum analysis....gives me the shutters.  I think I'll do like my fishing partner and just say, "you tell me what kind and what color and I'll throw it!"

(ha ha)

Seriously, this is a great thread guys.  Keep it going.

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Guest ouachitabassangler

It isn't all that big a deal, JB. Just try a few of these.

http://afs.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1577%2FT05-198.1

You'll learn a ton of GOOD stuff about spawning bass there, and there are some little known tips for finding bass nests there, so dig for those. Don't worry about the technical words. Skim over them, absorb what you can use.

Pick up some facts about bluegills, Gizzard shad, and age-0 largemouths here: http://afs.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1577%2F1548-8659%281998%29127%3C0070%3ALBAGSP%3E2.0.CO%3B2

To get current issues you have to be subscribed, either online ($25) or receive the printed quarterly version ($43). Anyone thinking about a career in fisheries should consider at least reading through the archived issues to get an idea about it. Here's the home page of AFS:

http://www.fisheries.org/html/index.shtml  

Jim

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You guys just make me feel stupid..... :D

Reading Fisheries Journals, light spectrum analysis....gives me the shutters. I think I'll do like my fishing partner and just say, "you tell me what kind and what color and I'll throw it!"

(ha ha)

Seriously, this is a great thread guys. Keep it going.

YES!  I am JB's fishing partner, and please keep the great info coming!  It's great to have a partner that just picks lures for me...

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