The right color

This particular lake had very clear water and a black and silver Rapala was what the bass liked. Nate Dixon holds a nice smallmouth bass that hit that particular combination. Other colors didn’t produce half as many hits.

Choosing the correct lure style and color can be critical, either making or breaking your day. To address this lure manufacturers make a seemingly endless variety of shapes and sizes — and the color choices today are simply mind-blowing.

What are fishermen to do? You can’t purchase a tackle box large enough to carry even a small portion of what’s available. Is there a way to simplify your tackle box and your approach to today’s time on the water? If so, how does a fisherman determine what are the most important factors dictating his choice and color?

Let’s examine what I’ve discovered over the years fishing for muskellunge in the Karwatha Lakes of Canada. For decades my family and friends threw a countless variety of lures and color combinations at these moody and uncooperative fish. The majority of the time muskies simply have no interest in lures at all and you find yourself fishing for hours or days hoping for a follow, hit or — joy untold — actually catching a legal muskellunge.

DURING these long dry spells you must have absolute faith in the lure you’re using at the time. You’re forced to make the best choice for the day or hour.

Bass or walleyes can be caught most days, allowing fishermen the luxury of making rapid changes in color, lures, size and presentation until they hit upon the correct combination.

Muskies differ in the fact you may have the perfect lure on and catch nothing at all for days. That is tough on the fisherman’s mental state and confidence. Thus it becomes necessary to reduce the lures and colors to a few basics you know the muskellunge will hit when they finally feel like it!

At first we used, almost exclusively, Suicks in crème color. It’s hard to find a better go-to lure than a Suick. Retrieved in short jerks you had the confidence that IF a muskellunge was to hit, it’d be on your Suick. The crème model, a light yellow actually, was the color you could trust.

OUR NEXT go-to lure came on a tip from a local bass pro. When he discovered we were targeting muskies and not bass he informed us of his secret weapon, a color analyzer which measured that lakes clarity and the colors the fish could best see.

On Buckhorn Lake that perfect color was blue and our new friend recommended a Rapala J-13 with a blue back, silver sides and white belly.

This information was spot on, we caught muskies, large bass and walleyes with our new discovery and the Rapala was especially effective trolling; its tight rapid action produced a fish-attracting vibration.

The third “sure thing” in color selection turned out to be chrome. Chrome gives off a tremendous flash in sunlight or rainy conditions. Chrome wasn’t always guaranteed to be the best color, but in overcast weather and dark conditions it could be deadly.

You can’t speak about long hours of casting for the green ghosts without the old standby, large spinners. Mepp’s #5 Muskie Killers are famous for their productivity — and for good reason. We discovered a silver blade and black bucktail were best in clear water and strong light conditions while the brass blade and fire-tiger tail were best in cloudy water or low light situations.

AS I mentioned earlier, observant fishermen can become so tuned in to the natural world around them they become aware of conditions fish and animals see and feel clearly, but humans usually don’t. I believe if we are sensitive enough we can become capable in some small way of sensing many of those things animals are aware of, such as subtle light conditions and intensity.

I believe our subconscious can, to some degree, recognize changes in the barometric pressure, the gravitation influences of the moon and its position under foot or above the horizon and other influences the natural world reacts to. Birds, fish and animals know days ahead of impending weather conditions and react according.

If you haven’t read stories of this continent’s first European trappers and explorers interacting with Indians and their ability to sense and know many unexplainable things in an almost spooky manner, it makes fascinating reading.

The late Dan Keesler, my father, Steve Colley and a few others I’ve spent hours on the water with know of what I speak.

For instance, let’s go back in time to a windy, overcast day, on Buckhorn. Suddenly, the sky darkened, the wind picked up and the water turned an oily green color. I could actually feel the hair on my arm stand up. The muskies were going to hit, and you could feel the tension in every cell of your body.

Steve and I looked at each other with gleams in our eyes and asked each other the same question. “What lure should we use?”

I hesitated, searched my soul for that unexplainable feeling which would answer the puzzle and answered with conviction, “The big Mepp’s in fire-tiger!”

Steve absolutely agreed with me. He knew, as I did, the Mepp’s was the perfect lure at this moment. We were right of course, but how did we know? If you are in tune with the lake your answers will always be the same.

Discover your body of water’s favorite colors, feel the unseen universe swirling through you when they produce and become one with the infinite. It’s a Zen experience and even if you can’t buy into and become one with that, discovering the “go-to” lures and their color patterns relating to weather and atmospheric conditions and that little voice is a fascinating journey.

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