I recently had a fascinating crappie fishing experience, which reinforced the importance of carefully considering lure color in relation to water color instead of grabbing what merely looks attractive to the human eye. Before we can dig in, you’ve got to check out this picture.
The pond we were fishing in, a private farm pond, was stained red by some sort of algae. The owner told me it was a regular thing, that the water often turned this color in the spring and fall but the pond seemed perfectly healthy and had a good population of largemouth bass and crappie. The pond was about an acre and a half in size, spring-fed, and between two and four feet with a small six foot hole near the dam end.
When we first started casting (there were three of us fishing) no one had much action. Actually, it was quite disappointing. For about an hour we beat the water with marabou jigs, and small spoons, to no avail. Eventually we caught a fish or two, but it was quite frustrating. So we tried experimenting a bit. I tried putting on an old Mepps, thinking that a spinning blade might draw strikes. My friend went to a small lipped crankbait. And the owner put on a blood-red tube jig, remembering that last year there was one specific day when he couldn’t keep the fish off of it.
On the very first cast – and the second, and the third, the owner pulled in a crappie. On the fifth or sixth cast, he caught a bass. Unfortunately, that was the only jig of the sort he had. My friend and I cut off our lures and tried to match it as closely as possible, me with a red Rooster Tail and my friend with a white twister tail sized about like the tube jig. The red Rooster caught; the white twister did not. He switched to a red twister, and BOOM – fish on.
What we eventually figured out was that the fish were quite willing to hit a variety of lures in different sizes, just as long as they were red. Red was the ticket, thanks to that reddish water. And old-timers will often use matching lure color to water color as a rule of thumb. In tannic water, root-beer often rocks. In blue water, blue is a good pick. And in greenish water chartreuse or lime dominates. Does this always hold true? Heck no. But when you’re not getting bites where you know there are fish, look at the water’s color – and then look at your lure.