With storage space in a bass boat at a premium, I try to maximize every bit that I can as I travel the country. I need to be ready to adjust on the fly and be prepared for specific lakes at certain times of the year. Yet at this point in my career, I try to keep my choices narrowed down to baits that I have the utmost confidence in because let’s face it, you are almost always going to tie on the same couple of baits in the same couple of colors anyway no matter how much gear you carry. I have most of my tackle set for conditions I will encounter based on the depth, size, or style of bait but there is almost a reoccurring theme to all of my boxes that is very noticeable…. A whole lot of shad and chartreuse! These are the staples. Always in the boat, never come out because I can make do at every lake in the country and handle every scenario with this arsenal.
In my shop, however, there is a shelf of the outliers and specialty boxes that are regional or seasonally based… The “smallmouth” box full of yellow perch, spybaits and marabou jigs. The “Bed Fishing” box which equates more to a bag of tricks. The “Wart” box I could sell to put my kid through college. And then there is the red box which isn’t labeled. The color stands out on the stacked shelf 2/3 of the year but for the other 1/3 it is front and center amongst all the baitfish lures in the boat.
I’m no biologist so I can’t tell you a perfect answer on why the red and orange baits work so well in the cold and prespawn. I could give you the same regurgitated line about crawfish molting that anglers make or even some other dumb theories like it ticks the fish off like a matador waving the red cape at a bull (FYI…bulls are partially color blind). However, through my years of experience fishing on the various national tours and guiding on Sam Rayburn in Texas, I can attest that red baits simply work great in the spring and I never leave the house between January-April without the red box in my boat!