My most recent tournament coverage assignment on the East Texas powerhouse Lake Sam Rayburn revealed the Angelina River impoundment was about 5 feet above its normal spring pool. In addition to flooding shoreline forests and scattering the fish, this rising water stirred up the scene and challenged anglers with turbidity.
Touchy conditions, but fish still have to eat. So, what can anglers do to boost their chances of attracting attention? Upsizing baits and using something with a rattle can help, but in just about any off-color water scenario, color enhancement is one of the simplest, yet most effective strategies. Here are a few ways to spruce things up.
1. Junk in the Trunk
Feathered trebles add a lifelike detail to the rear of a popping plug, but Bassmaster Elite Series pro Gerald Swindle wants a few strands of red tinsel in his skirt. Catching sunlight, the flashy accessory tends to entice bass and draw those reaction bites.
2. Target Acquired
Similar to the feathered accents, Bassmaster Classic champion Casey Ashley replaces his popper’s standard hooks with red trebles to give fish an aiming point.
Brightly colored worms like bubblegum, orange, and Merthiolate aren’t the go-to’s for day-to-day fishing, but these vivid creations stand out well in low-light and/or stained water.
Also, when spooky fish (spawners, fry guarders, etc.) require ample spacing, you can monitor that bright worm better from a distance. If the color suddenly disappears, set the hook.
3. Fix Your Makeup
A green pumpkin lizard, worm or creature bait with a touch of chartreuse dye—that’s about as tried-and-true as it gets. Whatever soft plastic bait color you go with, dipping dyes, scented dye sprays, or dye markers offer options for applying the accents that increase your bait’s visibility and appeal.
And don’t hesitate to branch out from the stalwart chartreuse. Nothing wrong with the old reliable, but your oranges, reds, blues, blacks and others can offer just enough difference to help fish spot a bait in off-color water, or make the bait stand out during periods of heavy fishing pressure.
Dyeing bait tails and appendage tips is always a good bet, but drop a little something on those lateral lines, fin tips, and under the chin, while you’re at it. Remember, moderation is the key.
You’re not looking for a complete makeover; you just want to give the fish a little eye-catcher.