MALLORYTOWN, Ontario For recreational bass anglers, one of the biggest decisions they face is what color bait is the right color bait and when is the best time to fish that color.
In the Northeast, from the St. Lawrence to the Potomac, from the Susquehanna to the Delaware and all rivers in between what works at one location almost always is going to work at another. All that is needed is finding the right color bait for the species being fished.
With the popularity of bass fishing, there are plenty of suggestions from professional anglers seen and heard daily on the various outdoors television channels about what is the latest must-have color. Almost as alluring are the full-color advertisements in magazines that display soft and hard baits available in more colors than a rainbow.
It has long been said that many lures seemingly are designed to catch more anglers than they are to catch fish, and that certainly seems to be the case with some of the newer colors used for baits. Even if baits in basic black and various shades of brown consistently produce bass, some anglers are just unable to resist adding a selection of baits in bubblegum or watermelon to their tackle.
Sooner or later, if an angler is persistent enough in fishing a particular bait color, it will entice a bass to strike. Usually, in the copy-cat world of bass angling, that is all it takes for a percentage of anglers to become convinced that color is the latest must-have, hottest-ever for that upcoming vacation or weekend buddy tournament.
Perhaps the most important thing to consider for the recreational angler, however, is fish the baits that have consistently produced fish – regardless of color. In other words, if an angler has confidence in a certain color bait, that is the right color to use.
Most professional anglers and guides agree that the four key factors to consider when targeting bass are bait selection, color, presentation and retrieve and rigging. Interestingly, not even these anglers are always in agreement on where color ranks in the order of importance when targeting bass.
Doug Amos, who operates 1000 Islands Guide Service on the St. Lawrence River out of Caiger's Resort in Mallorytown, Ontario, ranks color selection No. 4. In order, he ranks presentation, rigging and bait selection ahead of bait color.
"Even the best bait in the right color fished incorrectly will catch nothing," Amos said. "About the only exception might be a Senko, because when anyone fishes them, it's hard not to catch a fish.
"If I had to take one bait to fish anywhere in a wide variety of environments, it would be a watermelon/red flake fluke style bait. It catches bass shallow or deep, in weeds, rocks, wood, sand and mud, around docks in fast and slow current, but only if its rigged properly."
Obviously, the main concern for guides is having their clients catch fish, so they are most likely going to use baits in the colors that consistently produce fish. For that reason, successful guides will often use different baits in different colors than another because of the confidence they have in their tackle – experimenting during practice time or when trying to improve their luck during a tournament.
Amos said another thing to consider is that sometimes the best bait and the best bait color may depend on the time of the year, water conditions and the weather. For example, a group of local anglers who fish regularly at Caiger's have success from June through October with YUM Dinger and Craw Pappy softbaits, but have found that different colors work better at different times of the year.
It is easy for anglers to get caught up in all the various lure colors, but once finding a bait that produces, most guides recommend getting a selection in a variety of colors. If available, have see-through colors for clear water, bright colors for stained water and dark colors for muddy water.
And no matter the brand of one's favorites baits, all anglers agree that when it came to selecting bait colors, if the color being fished is catching fish, that is the right color.
For information about bass fishing on the St. Lawrence River at Caiger's Resort, visit the website at www.vacation1000islands.com/caigers.html;  for information about fishing with 1000 Island Guide Service, contact Doug Amos at www.fishing1000islands.com/doug.html .