There are a lot of factors that create the color puzzle. The main ones are water clarity and ambient light. Is it sunny or cloudy? Is the water clear, stained, or dirty?
On the Susquehanna, throw out the rule book about dark colors on dark days and bright colors on sunny days. Yes, that works sometimes, but on this river sometimes the opposite is best. That's why sometimes even if I am catching fish, I'll try something else just to see if it works better.
I've seen situations with lure color that were unbelievable. One of the best nights I ever had walleye fishing, the water was dirty, and I mean chocolate dirty. I didn't even expect to catch anything, but I had a couple hours available and decided to give it a try. I went through the colors and caught nothing until I put the local favorite (motoroil) on. Then it was one after another. It was dark, the visibility in the water was zero, yet the walleyes were keyed into that motoroil color. I got my flashlight out and shined it on my jig as I dropped it into the water. It disappeared instantly. I tried other colors and they wouldn't hit them. I put the motoroil back on and they killed it.
These are just a few extreme examples of how color can be the difference between getting skunked and knocking it out of the park. Get out there, the fish are waiting.
n Ken Maurer, Herndon, is a licensed fishing guide and a regular contributor to the Outdoor Section.