Monday, October 3, 2011

White is Tight for Bass!

This largemouth fell for a white chatterbait as temperatures
locally began to cool.
 These days, when you ask a bass angler, "what's your favorite color?", you'll get a variety of responses.  We've heard many times that when you have those bluebird skies and clear water, that we should use natural colors that best imitate prey, i.e. green pumpkin, watermelon, smoke.  Or when the water is muddy, the experts recommendation for us to use chartreuse or black.  Or when the water is clear and the skies are dark, we'd do well to use darker colors like junebug, or black and blue, or maybe bright colors like chartreuse.  Those are good suggestions, for sure, but often the most basic of colors falls off the radar that could possibly be the best color choice in many situations,and that is the color white.

During the fall, bass go on a feeding binge, fattening up presumably for the upcoming winter, with that behavior being triggered by cooling water temperatures and shorter days.  Reaction baits and faster moving lures work quite well, like spinnerbaits and crankbaits, and during cold fronts, soft plastics take fish when the reaction bite is off.  The bottom line is that even during fronts, bass in the fall seem more willing to strike in general than other times of the year, at least, that's my observation.  What I'm getting at here is that the fish just aren't as picky, and while all of their senses are on high alert, the visual attractiveness of the color white to them is often too tempting to resist, and it's not just bass, but many other species as well.  Why?  Because of the visibility of the color white, they simply can see it easier than anything else.

Chain pickerel also hammered our white chatterbaits.
So, given the varied characteristics of bass lures that draw strikes, the color white allows them to visually hone in on their target resulting in savage strikes.  As you know, white reflects all light, so it's the most visible color throughout the water column.  Reaction lures like spinnerbaits and chatterbaits already drive them nuts, and throw in the most visible color and the bass just can't miss. 

White is also a versatile color.  Because of it's light reflecting ability, it's a great color to use in muddy or stained water all year long.  White is a color that's common in nature, yet when mother nature paints an individual animal in all white in the form of albinism, natural selection tends to weed those individuals out of the population.  White prey items disappear faster than their more commonly hued brethren.  So, perhaps white as a color tends to reflect albinism which enhances that feeding instinct.  Therefore, it's really a color that can be effective all year long.

White soft plastics make great trailers for lures like
spinnerbaits and chatterbaits, but also are
terrific when fished like your other favorite soft
How about seasonal hot patterns with this color?  In the spring, white spinnerbaits maybe with a hint of chartreuse are one of the most popular colors of all.  The crankbait colors of Tennessee shad and the more recent sexy shad colors suggest white prey, or, natural colors of prey over a white background or imitated belly coloration.  Late spring and early summer for jig pitchers is a great time to try swim jigs around weed beds or heavy cover for largemouth.  During hot weather, white floating worms and other soft plastics can be very effective too.  White buzzbaits or curl tailed grubs are candy for summer smallmouth on moving water.  Thick clouds of white mayflies on August smallmouth and trout streams send the predatory fish into a feeding frenzy often imitated with great success by fly anglers with white miller and white Wulff dry flies, and even white wooly buggers.  White spinnerbaits and the fall go hand in hand, and tend to be one of my top lure choices for largemouth.  And white twister tails and tubes fishing in the colder months can be deadly for more inactive bass when fished through the ice.

Many lures, from topwater plugs to crankbaits, have white
bellies that perfectly imitate the natural coloration of the
bellies of baitfish.
Chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, and buzzbaits in white are one
of the best reaction bait combinations that you can use any time.

The visibility of the color white also helps anglers when fishing shallow water subsurface retrieves on lures like spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, moving plastics and jigs, and even crankbaits because often if the water is clear enough, you can see the strikes, or at least your lure being engulfed.  Not only does that give you an edge knowing that a fish is striking, but it seems to make that strike seem even more exciting than those that you don't see.  I guess it's not on par with topwater strikes, but it may be the next best thing!

In summary, when choosing colors of your favorite lures, don't overlook one of the most basic of colors.  So really, it's a great choice, any time, any season, but particulary effective during the cooling temperatures leading through the fall.


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