Try a Contrast to Improve Your Success
By Steve Mattson
In a world trying to do the right thing for the environment, we have seen some great improvements to water clarity and toxicity levels in lakes, rivers and reservoirs. Along with the water clarity we have seen some amazing products such as line, soft plastics, lure paints and finishes to better represent the real nature forage we are trying to imitate in this clear water. Many of the lures are things of beauty and produce amazing results. I am sure it is tough if not impossible for a fish to tell the difference. They donít have the minds we do.
And yet, sometimes it helps to go against the flow and carve out your own path. Sometimes making a presentation stand out is just what you need to trigger a bite, an aggressive bite. None of this subtle ďI am not really hereĒ presentation, itís more like a ďhere I am,Ē you canít miss me type of presentation. It may not be an all-day approach on these waters but it does have its place.
Sometimes it takes a little while before it clicks or sinks in. During one early summer bass tournament, I hit a stumbling block for most of the event. I did catch fish but well short of my expectations. In the days prior to the event, I had phenomenal success using topwater baits. Natural-colored Skitterpops or Chug Bugs, it really didnít matter because the fish were smashing them. The weather pattern was stable with a front that headed its way through. Generally speaking, that will kick out a great bite with a drop in pressure.
But things werenít exactly great during the day; Iíd say mediocre at best. As I looked to the sky in bewilderment, the vast white sky caused me to wonder if there was something I could do. Was I missing something? I know smallies have great eyesight but maybe a contrast would help and make it really easy for them to see. After all, my natural-colored baits all had white bellies, the perfect camouflage for the day.
The spot I was on had quality size and numbers of bass but I didnít have a single strike on my pass through the area, even on the really good stuff, nor did my partner. As I was reeling in my lure it finally clicked that I should try a dark-bottomed bait if I was going to stick with topwaters.
I quickly dug through the tackle compartment of my Ranger bass boat and found my topwater tackle box. As I flipped the lid open all the attention was focused on the lone black Storm Chug Bug. It was screaming for its chance to sashay on the surface that spread before me.
In no time at all, I cut off the natural-colored one and tied on new hope to the end of my string. I told my partner that I was going to give them something they can really see.
First cast out it sat on the surface for about two seconds before it got smashed by a quality bass.I just fished through the area with white bellies, and now two seconds later with a dark one and the game is on. Sometimes a contrast is needed to trigger a strike. It can really be that simple.
I always wondered why black and blue jigs were a bass fishermanís favorite colored jig. It doesnít represent anything I see in nature, but the colors flat-out catch bass. Do they stand out? They absolutely do. Does it scare off the bass? No, they eat it with a vengeance sometimes.In stained-water scenarios often times the hot baits can be the bright ones or the ones that contrast the dark water. This plays out every year when fishing for walleye in the rivers, as bright firetiger type colors produce amazing results. It can work well on the smallmouth as well. Iíve heard it said many times as anglers take the opportunity to address the crowd in tournaments; they donít try to understand why all the time, they just let the fish tell them what they want rather than trying to force feed them. It may not make sense to you, but if your targeted fish likes it, thatís all that matters.
Next time your favorite natural colors donít produce, tie on a contrasting one and let the fish tell you if they like it or not.