If I have heard it once, I have heard it a thousand times:
Match the Hatch
Most lures are designed to catch the fisherman
Well, I am here to tell you that both are entirely too true, and of course, patently false at the same time. Confusing? I know…
Simply put, match the hatch just means choose lures and baits that mimic what your target species is currently dining on. This naturally depends on what is readily available in the area.
Figuring this out isn’t as easy as it sounds for most anglers. The confusion lies in the industry; the Pros preach about lures that fit the lakes they fish in, and your local tackle shop stocks what “sells”.
Here is the key thing no one is telling you: bait fish and forage are not the same everywhere!
1) Shad – There are none in most Ontario Lakes, except perhaps the Great Lakes
2) Crawfish/Crayfish – They don’t have the same colouring here
3) Frogs – Again, we have different species here
So every time you hear about shad imitating baits, and buying the latest greatest shad pattern, you are unfortunately wasting your money. Your local tackle shop is not making this easier; they are most times stocking what their reps recommend, rather than what you need.
The key here is thinking about some key factors:
1) Where are you fishing?
2) What time of year is it?
3) What do the fish there eat?
4) What kind of water are you fishing?
Where you fish will obviously dictate what the fish are eating. The kind of water you are fishing and time of year will help you figure out the patterns/colours that will work for you. You have a lot more leeway in colour selection on a dark cloudy lake than you would on a “gin-clear” lake such as Lake Simcoe. As a general rule, dark colours/patterns in low-visibility lakes, and lighter more natural presentations in clear water.
Here is the big takeaway for you, summed up in 3 tips:
1) Craws and Creatures – These baits mimic natural prey for fish; they grow over a season and often change colours throughout. Crayfish will change colour from light brown and very pale white bellies in Spring to a much darker brown and reddish colour in Fall. Look for lures that offer two-tone plastics and early to late season colours. I recommend Power Team Lures for plastics.
2) Frogs – Frogs grow during a given season like crayfish; if you like frogging for bass, start small in spring and size up over summer to fall. LiveTarget offers weedless frogs in three sizes and enough patterns to match your local frogs.
3) Minnow – Look for patterns that match what your target species eats when buying crankbaits and other minnow imitations. In Ontario lakes for instance, your best bet is to stick with patterns that mimic herring, smelt, bluegill, shiners, and perch as they are abundant in most waters. Again, LiveTarget is my go-to brand for this type of bait.
4) Chaos Theory – Ok, I mentioned that “Match the Hatch” was true and false; let me qualify that. There are patterns that while they appear to be created only to “catch fishermen” they defy all logic and work. Some great examples are the classic blue/white or blue/pink stickbait, or the good ol’ Fire Tiger pattern on just about any sort of crankbait or stickbait, or the ever faithful red and white daredevle spoon (honourable mention to the five of diamonds). None of these patterns match any natural prey, but seem to work time and again.
Hope this clears up some of the confusion for you. Nothing beats research and common sense when planning your fishing purchases and trips.