To be completely honest, color selection generally isn’t very high on our priority list. There are many other factors (depth, speed, profile, etc.) that tend to have a bigger impact why fish bite.
That said, there are few notable exceptions…
Just like round gobies in the Great Lakes, rusty crayfish have exploded in many fisheries throughout our region and have dramatically changed the diets of the walleyes and bass in those waters.
Lake of the Woods is one of the most popular lakes in North America for anglers in AnglingBuzz country. Since their introduction, rusty crayfish have become a big factor for walleye in the lake, as they continue to take up a larger and larger percentage of their diets. Joel Nelson has noticed this trend, as evidenced by the crayfish remains scattered all throughout his livewell after boxing a few ‘eyes.
We can see the trends, but how do we take advantage?
Orange, orange and more orange! Placing a heavier emphasis on bright orange colors has made a dramatic impact for Joel on many bodies of water infested by rusty crayfish, including LOTW, Leech Lake and more.
One common misconception is that the bait needs to be completely covered with orange, but that’s not always necessary. Sometimes an orange accent is all you need to tip the odds in your favor. One of Joel’s favorite baits for “rusty ‘eyes” is a #7 Jigging Rap in Glow Hot Perch (see picture below). It’s not covered with orange, but it features a bright orange belly.
There are a number of lure profiles that effectively emulate rusty crayfish. Jigging Raps work well, as we mentioned earlier. Tubes and jig-n-pigs work excellent for bass, and a Shad Rap is an all-around fish catcher for many species. If you’re heading up to Lake of the Woods, make sure to grab some Shad Raps in “Hot Flash” from Fleet Farm. It’s an exclusive custom color that’s absolutely dynamite out there, featuring an orange craw pattern on top and that LOTW gold on the belly.
Throw it on wind-blown rocky shorelines, where the wind and waves are stirring up those rusties, and you’ll be in business!
We’ve had a lot of success catching big bronzebacks with Northland’s new Tuff Tubes in “Red Tiger”. Dragged or popped off the bottom, it looks just like a rusty crayfish in the eyes of a smallmouth bass.
If there’s one takeaway from this piece, it’s this: Pay attention to where you’re fishing. If you’re on a lake with rusty crayfish, make sure to incorporate orange into your strategy. You’ll almost certainly catch more fish!