Mark Davis, one of the most successful professional anglers ever to wet a line, can catch fish 12 months out of the year, but the past Classic champion and former Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year is considered by many to be among the greatest postspawn anglers in the Elite Series.
Davis cut his teeth as a professional guide on Arkansas' Lake Ouachita, and he contends that his experience there, along with fishing the varying types of lakes, rivers and streams around his hometown of Mt. Ida, have taught him the importance of being flexible in his bait's color selections — particularly with respect to soft plastics.
"There are more colors readily available in soft plastics today than ever before, so when I think about making a subtle color change a few things come to mind," he relates. "A lot of times, if you're fishing an area or a particular group of fish, they get tired of the bait color."
Mark is quick to point out that oftentimes, a slight change of color is all that's needed to get the school fired up again. "You can find that by making a subtle change to your bait's color, they'll go back to eating," he says. "This is particularly true when you're fishing a school of fish. That subtle change can make all the difference."
Knowing that a change is needed is easier than knowing what to change about the color of your bait. Davis prefers to keep it simple. "More times than not, the key factors behind making a color change are water clarity and changes in sky conditions," he points out. "It might be something as subtle as going from one flake to another, or simply dipping the tail in red or orange dye.
"Early in the morning," he continues, "I've seen fish in clearer water that will gravitate toward something like a pepper flake tube but then as the sun brightens, they might be more inclined to bite a bait that's a little more natural looking. That's not to say that they won't still bite the pepper-flake tube, but the more natural color is a better choice and one that the fish are more aggressive toward."
When bass fail to react to a certain bait color, Davis maintains, the cause is often due to prolonged exposure to that particular hue — even if it the exposure has occurred over a relatively short period of time. "I really believe that fish simply get tired of seeing a certain color over time," he points out. "By making a color change, you'd be amazed at the bites you can get."
While it's no secret that humans and bass don't "see" things the same way, conventional wisdom — and creative marketing — have led anglers to believe that the color of a bait we're presenting is true to the coloration a bass prefers. "Bass fishermen fail to realize that a lure has a different hue to a bass once it's in the water," Davis points out.
"Where we're seeing a pumpkinseed or watermelon seed, they're seeing a natural-colored bait. Then, when you add in metal flake mixed with how the sunlight is reflecting off the flakes, once again the bait's hue is changed dramatically — even though you might not have changed the base color at all."
Mark's best advice when making subtle changes in color over the course of a day: "Just keep things basic and simple and use the water and sky conditions as the guide. Always remember that where a color change might be subtle to us it could be quite a bit different to a fish."