Why Are Bass Different Colors?

Why Are Bass Different Colors?

The largemouth bass is among the most popular gamefish in North America, Canada, the United States, and northern Mexico. They can weigh around 25 lbs / 11.4 kg, reach a length of 29.5 in / 75 cm, and can live between 10 to 16 years in the wild.

This species of black bass is noted for its chameleonic-like color-changing ability, as it can appear in different shades of black, green, brown, and olive.

Bass fish have receptors in their eyes that detect different levels of light and cue changes in the pigment cells of their skin. The eyes perceive the reflected light of the surroundings, and this triggers a hormonal release in the fishes’ skin, which usually imitates the color of the environment. Their ability to detect certain colors is often used by fishermen to use colored bait to catch them.

But why are bass different colors? And what colors can they perceive? Bass fish have the ability to change their color due to evolution. They use the color of their environment to either hide from other predators or to catch prey by surprise. These fish can detect colors such as red, green, blue, black, white, or chartreuse.

Now let us look at what colors appeals more to the bass fish, and other related questions.

What Colors Do Bass See Best?

According to scientific research conducted at various universities in Illinois and New York, bass fish are attracted the most to red, and green colors. This is because the largemouth bass eyes contain only 2 different kinds of cone cells, one which is sensitive to green, and one to red. Thus, it was concluded that bass fish have dichromatic vision.

Scientists used numerous colored baits and observed how often the fishes attacked the respective targets and rewarded them with food. Here are the results:

  • Red: 80% 
  • Green: 75%
  • Blue: 48%
  • Black: 40%
  • White: 33%
  • Chartreuse: 30%

It is evident that the bass fish is attracted the most to red and green colors. They can see these colors very well, while the other darker colors appear quite the same for bass fish, and this also applies to the brighter colors such as white or chartreuse, they are unable to distinguish between them.

It is important to take note that these experiments were conducted in clear, well-filtered water. These conditions don’t represent every single body of water where the fish is present.

Another thing to take into consideration is that color perception might be different for bass fish of different age groups. Regardless, these studies have a great impact on bass fishing and may lead the way towards new insights.

It is important to let your experience be the guide, however. If a certain color worked out for you, keep using that one. Some enthusiasts reported that they saw little to no difference when using green or red lures to catch bass.

How Do You Choose a Worm Color for Bass?

It seems that when it comes down to plastic worms, bass fish are attracted to green pumpkin, watermelon, and black/blue. However, some variations might work out even better.

The Morning Dawn plastic worm is purple/bluish in color, and since it doesn’t resemble anything found in nature, fish bass might want to get a bite out of it.

The Bama Bug also seems a popular choice for bass. It is dark on the top, and green on the bottom. This bait was used by Brent Ehrler to win the FLW Championship on Logan Martin in 2006.

Similar to the Bama Bug is the Okeechobee Craw, and it is meddling of blue and dark watermelon, and bass fish seem to aggressively attack this plastic worm. The Baby Bass is also a great bait to use, but get ready to have a fight on your hands.

Does Line Color Matter for Bass?

Since science has established that bass have dichromatic vision, does line color matter for bass? Well, definitely. Fishing line color is important for many reasons.

The best fishing line color is the one with the least contrast against the background. You don’t want the fish to know you’re there, and thus the line must blend with the surroundings.

Take into consideration that colors fade as water depth increases. Clear water, stained, or muddy, all have a different impact on this as well. In muddy waters, the first color to go is blue, and all of its variations.

Some of the best line colors for fishing bass are camo, red, clear blue/fluorescent, and fluorocarbon fishing line. Camo prevents light from traveling down the line, making it less visible. Red becomes black quite easily, and this can be great depending upon the color of the background environment.

Blue is a great color since bass are least sensitive to it, while fluorocarbon appears whitish, however, it is still slightly visible, but it is the best fishing line color if you want bass to not see your line. Remember, the deeper the water or the less clear it is, the less light and color there will be, and the bass won’t even know you’re there.

Just make sure that you see the line, as bass can take their bait/lure, without you even noticing it, and you might not be prepared for what will happen next.  

Did you know?

– Largemouth bass reaches sexual maturity and begin spawning when they are around one year old. The spawning season begins in spring when the water temperature first holds steady above 60o F / 15.5o C. 

– In the northern regions of the United States the spawning season begins anywhere between late April until early July. In the southern states, this typically occurs in March and is usually over by June.

– If you don’t wat to use plastic worms as bait for bass fish, some great live baits are frogs, crawfish, or large golden shiners.

– The female bass is larger than the male bass, and anglers encourage the practice of catch and release since the females contribute heavily to future sport fishing stocks.

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