Color me surprised

According to science, deer do not see color. At least that is what they tell me, especially when I am required to wear bright orange during gun season.

I am told that as long as I break up the pattern and hold perfectly still deer will have a hard time seeing me. Now, I really do not understand how a scientist gets inside a deer’s brain and knows what the critter actually really sees.

Can anyone even understand how I see color? When I see a red flower is it the same as when another person sees a red flower? I’ve had a friend who was essentially color blind and he had to memorize the sequence of traffic signals since he could not differentiate red from green.

Color might not make a difference when deer hunting, but don’t let them get a whiff of your man-smell or Bambi will show his white flag and prove the saying, “Run like a deer,” is true.

Color is definitely important when fishing. Here again scientists have somehow determined which colors a walleye sees, and that means a lot to an avid angler like me. I just read a tip in a Cabela’s catalog that claims walleyes see red, orange, yellow and green best. Not being one to doubt science I immediately turned to the order page and bought several lures in these colors. They might not catch more fish, but they sure caught this angler. As long as we anglers pursue fish, the economy will do well.

I am definitely not a scientist, but my own experiments have shown certain colors do work better than others. For years I have contended that any color will catch crappies as long as it’s white.

White has worked for me on many lakes, including Guilford, Highlandtown, Kentucky Lake, and here at Lake Tomahawk. I have even done well with white jigs on a couple of strip mine ponds. When fishing for crappies my second choice for color is yellow.

Granted that an experiment conducted by one guy sitting in a boat is not a controlled experiment. Lately, however, I think I have better control. Adding my buddy, Dennis Henthorne, to the mix lets me make some interesting conclusions.

Our method is for each of us to troll different lures with different colors at different depths. Not exactly a true NASA grade experiment, but it’s what we have. And, since we both troll from my pontoon boat, The Barbie J, there is some credence to our conclusions.

We have decided that color is a factor, and having some green on the lure works best, although a Fire Tiger perch color seems to catch anything including channel catfish.

I have trolled darker colors at the same time Dennis used the Fire Tiger and had very little success. Is it the color of the lure, or the depth at which it’s trolled? Maybe it is the lure’s action, or even its shape.

There are so many factors involved in an experiment, including the skipper’s ability to put the boat, and hence the lure, over fish. Boat speed is also a factor, as is line diameter.

With the recent heat wave the fish have gotten deeper, so we choose lures that will swim deeper. Sometimes it is necessary to add some weight ahead of the lure to get it down to the fish. We seldom need to add more than a split shot or two.

How do I rank our experiment? At the very least we are learning something and catch a few fish at the same time. And we experiment while he sun is shining and the air is fresh. What more can we ask?

Sunday is Father’s Day, and I can think of no better way to spend it than fishing as a family. In fact there is no better way to spend any family day than fishing together.

Our kids, Pam and Chip, left the nest a long time ago, but I still remember special times when we fished together.


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