I'm Jim Root, one of the most published anglers on the topic of fish behavior as it relates to weather conditions. If you have questions let me know!
By: Jim Root , 12:04 AM GMT on April 07, 2014
Understanding crawfish patterns and coloration is key to big bites!
There are very few people in the world who don't throw jigs or other crawfish imitations when bass fishing. Some people have no less than three jigs tied at any given time on their boat. So what is it that makes them so deadly on bass, and how do you know what color to use? There has been a lot of research recently that says it's not enough to throw a tube, you need to know the correct pattern.
Recently I came across a study which showed that 90% of the time bass will choose to eat crawfish over anything else because crawfish are extremely high in protein and very easy for bass to digest. So it's not coincidence that people throw so many tubes, jigs, soft plastic baits with pinchers. This part is really not deniable. Anyone with a boat who's had bass in their livewell will tell you that at some point bass have spit up crawfish. What gets tricky is when you start debating color, and if it matters.
Let's start with what is universally true: craws do change color. In a study performed by the University of Michigan, Dr. Robert Thacker found that crawfish have red and blue photoreceptors. In lakes where blue-green light transmitted best, the craws were lighter in color. And in lakes where red light transmitted best, the craws were darker in color. There has also been clear data to support that swamp-like bottom composition results in very different coloration than rocky bottom lakes or tributaries. I'm not carrying around a spectrophotometer from lake to lake measuring the color intensity, but I do have a few traps that I'll place at different points around the lake to collect samples of crawfish, which is ultimately the most effective way to match the hatch. This is really important to do because local bait shops often import what they sell from farms, where conditions can be completely different from what you're fishing.
When they'll change color is when they're molting, or shedding their shell. This results from outgrowing the one they'd worn previously. This process has also been known to change the color entirely based on habitat. What researchers have found is that molting is initiated by a chemical that's released in the body that's been linked to the different phases of the moon. An article in Bassmaster Magazine had this to say about colors and moon phase: 3-4 days before and after a full moon throw brown and orange or olive and orange,black and red as you move further into the moon cycle, new moon nights should warrant dark brown and black, and to use black and blue as you move to a sickle moon.
So if you take all the data and combine it what you get is that crawfish are considered delicious by bass, they change color frequently during the different moon phases, with different color patterns per each section of water in each individual lake/river/pond. So go "match the hatch"!
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