By John Neporadny Jr.
Look in a clearance bin at any bait and tackle store and you are likely to notice wild-colored lures you think a Lake of the Ozarks bass would never touch.
Yet you better think twice about passing up on those lures decked out in wild and crazy colors because those hues do trigger strikes in certain situations. Lake of the Ozarks experts frequently search clearance bins and lure shelves in quest of those loud-colored baits they know attract bass.
Former Bass Fishing League All-American Champion Marcus Sykora chooses lures in wild and crazy colors to catch pressured bass. “In today’s age I think these bass get so much pressure and they kind of see everything,” Sykora says. “The whole industry has always been match the hatch that I think whenever you go against the grain it can have an advantage. (A wild color) is something completely different that the fish haven’t seen before and it stands out against every other lure they have seen for that period of time.”
FLW Tour pro and Lake of the Ozarks guide Casey Scanlon also likes to go against the grain by throwing lures in bright hues. “It’s something that your average tournament fisherman isn’t going to throw so it gives me confidence,” Scanlon says. “Sometimes if I can find a color that is abstract and different from the norm I feel confident going behind other boats and fishing it.”
Crazy color choices
Sykora selects crazy colored lures that are factory painted or hand painted by Dave’s Custom Baits. “In the factory colors everyone wants to buy the one that looks the most realistic like a gizzard or threadfin shad or a bream, but I like to throw the ugliest ones on the store shelf that no one else will buy,” Sykora says. The Osage Beach angler also looks for lures in discontinued wild colors.
Bright tints Sykora picks for his lures include pink, red, lime, neon green and variations of yellow. One of his favorite colors for Zara Spooks is a “juicy fruit” yellow that he calls school bus. A favorite hue for his 6th Sense Provoke Jerkbaits is a hue he calls “ditch weed”, which features red painted on one side of the lure and yellow on the other side.
Several of the wild colors Scanlon chooses are on factory-painted lures. “There are plenty of crazy colors out there on the shelf to choose from,” he says. “A lot of the stuff I am using is straight out of the package. I also like to tinker with stuff so I have powder paint and permanent markers that I use to doctor up baits. “
The Rocky Mount pro opts for hard plastic lures such as crankbaits and jerkbaits in multiple colors. “You can find some real wild colors,” he says. A lot of the colors made for bass really don’t necessarily resemble a baitfish of any sort or exactly something they would prey on.” His multi-colored lures include mixtures of chartreuse, pink and purple.
“Purple might not be a crazy color on some lures because you see it a lot on the back of crankbaits and things like that, but an all-purple buzz bait is something that works,” he says. “It is something not seen much for that particular bait.”
Crazy colors work best for Scanlon on hard plastic jerkbaits, soft plastic stick worms, spinnerbaits and square-bill crankbaits. He suggests you can also “get crazy” with a multicolored jig.
Wild color seasons
Winter is wild color season for Sykora because he notices big bass seem to bite better in the cold on at Lake of the Ozarks and heavyweight bass are drawn to loud colors of his 6th Sense Provoke Jerkbaits.
Sykora searches for the clearest water he can find to throw his brightly colored lures. “That goes so far against the grain of anything we have ever known,” Sykora says. However he believes big bass in clear water have trouble resisting suspending stickbaits in “loud nasty colors” that sit so long in front of their face.
“It gives me the confidence that I know I am throwing something that is completely unique, which means I am going to fish it slower and more thorough,” Sykora says.
Suspending stickbaits in crazy colors also produce big bass for Sykora in springtime tournaments. He relies on his unique-colored lures to catch kicker bass in tournaments when Lake of the Ozarks receives heavy fishing pressure in the spring.
Scanlon observes wild colors are especially effective in the spring when sight fishing for bass because the bright colors are easier to see on nests and the gaudy hues irritate bedding bass. “(Wild colors) excel in the springtime but I wouldn’t limit it to any season for sure,” Scanlon says.
The strange-looking suspending stickbaits have been excellent changeup lures for Sykora during the winter and spring. “If I know the fish are keying in on a certain color I will throw it once or twice but before I leave an area I will make a pass with that different special color and that color is the one I will catch the biggest bass out of that group of fish a lot of times,” he says. After catching a limit in a tournament while using a stickbait in normal colors, Sykora will also change up with a wild color to target kicker bass the rest of the day.
For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free vacation guide, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau web site at funlake.com.
For copies of John Neporadny’s THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide call 573/365-4296 or visit www.jnoutdoors.com.