Legends of the Fall
May 15th, 2009 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified May 15th, 2009 at 12:00 AM
Autumn leaves are never ignored. Their effervescence draws youreye from the beginning of their turnover until the snow covers theirgrounded reflection. As winter melts away and spring rains fertilizethe defrosted ground, only then is the new greenery superlative to thecolors of fall. It’s a cornerstone to the refreshing warmth of summer,yet it’s a short-lived refreshment as our eyes grow used to thegreenery. Only when the wind shifts and a strong breeze suggests astorm is approaching do we again turn our attention back to the leaves.While still green, they flip to their dull side as if to warn us of theweather to come, and so I got to thinking.
Muskies are predators by nature, yet sometimes by choice. What drawstheir attention besides the feeling in their lateral line andmandible’s sensory pores? Ultimately, what draws their eye? Waterdisplacement and relative vibration surely excites our quarry, so muchso that a blind musky can effectively feed. While the theory that colordoesn’t make a difference can be proven at times, it surely can’t bethe staple in every scenario.
As musky fishermen, we talk about color all the time; it’s a populardiscussion. When to throw natural versus artificial colors seems to bethe mainstay for these conversations, and surely they go deeper, suchas the idea of natural colors lacking a visual profile, or the conceptof the purkinje shift. As a boy my father first introduced me to theturning leaf concept I described at the end of my first paragraph. It’sa theory that has planted a garden of ideas I base a lot of my lurecolor choices on.
The idea, while not my own, of natural paintjobs of lures imitating arelative forage base and lacking a visual profile is an interestingone. Surely fish are patterned according to their primary niche forcamouflaging purposes, theirs little to no question there. Does itsrelationship to a muskies strike or lack there of go beyond that simpleaspect? I believe it does, and once again I’ll refer back to my firstparagraph.
Why are juvenile muskies easier to catch? Sure, they may not havefallen victim to barbed hooks yet, but could it be they aren’t yetbored of their prey? In the first couple years of a muskies life, theyfeed more often and grow rapidly compared to a larger, older fish. Tothem, life might just be a little more fun as their youth and smallersize allows them more energy to chase down prey. Imagine a hungryenergetic child in a candy store and how sticky their fingers couldbecome if you let them touch all the variety that appeals to them. Asan adult, I’m assuming you would be less enthused by the spectrum ofcolors as their appeal may only compromise a severe craving or hunger.Much the same, I believe that a relatively large musky who has livedamongst the perch, suckers, bluegills, etc. may no longer see theexcitement they once did in their adolescent years. Furthermore, nolonger are they as vulnerable to be caught on just about anything youthrow at them like their younger kin.
This theory doesn’t resolute to boredom alone, rather it can spin offanother direction. Assuming the boredom theory holds true, much thesame as our enthusiasm fades with the constant greenery of summer,suffice it to say that artificial colors can trip the trigger you feelhalf way back on your cast’s retrieve. Beyond the science of thepurkinje shift, where differences in color contrast under differentlevels of illumination can increase lure visibility, lies a simplerperspective – the significance of change. While almost all musky luresare shaped or assembled to imitate a forage species by movement andprofile, perhaps what distinguishes an buyer from a window shopper isthe change in color.
By no means am I suggesting that natural colors don’t work, in fact,over two-thirds of my tackle reflect natural paintjobs, blades andskirts. I also utilize the concept of purkinje shifts to the fullestand take head to the idea of natural camouflaging falling victim to alack of visual profile. I’ll never be one to profess that color doesn’tmatter as all is relative to the circumstances. Yes, a blind fish canbe caught, but perhaps the next time you set out to catch one of theother 99% of the species you’ll consider more than the “hold your handup to the sky” theory when deciding what color to use.