A quick glance at most gamefish tells you about their feeding and lifestyle habits. The eyes are set in a way to give them a wide range of vision. They also are possess large eyes that uniquely collect light better than that of the anglers that cast to them. They also have an abundance of rods and cones that give them a high degree of color differentiation and equally good depth perception. Of all the senses of gamefish, sight is probably the most advanced and complex.
A common phrase for me during seminars is, “No sight, no bite”. Bass, crappie and other fish locate and make the decision to strike predominately based off of visual ques. While other factors enter in to the feeding process, hearing and limited ability to smell, what they see ultimately seals the deal or causes them to snub the offering.
Variables that enter into the equation include, cloud cover, amount of wind and most importantly water color. Each of these plays a role in the ability of bass to see, track down and make the determination to eat. Cloud cover makes for decreased available light and will entice bass to cruise freely. Any wind speed changes the surface from glass calm, to a ripple or in extremes to white caps. A combination of these two weather related conditions reduces available light for the fish to see. Most critical is the water color itself. Heavy rain can muddy the waters significantly. Algae bloom, rain and particle stratification all make the underwater search for food more difficult. This is an advantage to the angler. Limited sight for the fish means you, the angler, can sneak up on the fish and use this knowledge to choose lures and colors that match the conditions. The key here is more in choosing subtlety than “glow in the dark” shades for lures. Initially I migrate to spinnerbaits because of the potential to employ blades and skirts that call attention to the minnow imitating spinners. For BIG bass and to use the qualities that fool more BIG bass I lean towards baits that fall into the category of “feel baits”, jigs, worms and most recently large soft plastic tubes. The main draw is the random action imparted by each individual. This never allows the bass to catch on to negative clues of the fake invader. Negative clues are/can be bright colors, rattling sounds, mechanical (predictable action) and shapes that are not as easily swallowed.
Learn to use subtle colors, white in clear water, mid-range pumpkin in stained waters and black in muddy environments. Your reward will be the frequent thump of a bass hit and possibly the biggest fish of your life. Weather or not you want the bass to sing” I can see clearly now”.