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Name: Ricky
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Question:
When the color of a largemouth bass is white and faded looking does that mean that he has been in shallow water or down deep. I might be wrong but I heard that when they are down deep they become light in color.


Replies:
Hi Ricky,

You are partly correct. Largemouth bass have photo receptors in their eyes that help them cue the changes in their pigment cells in their skin. Their eyes receive the reflected light from their surroundings and this can trigger a chemical release (hormones) in their skin to move the pigment closer to the surface of the skin or further away. This is an adaptation that allows them to camouflage themselves better when they are hunting prey or being hunted by larger fish. If they are in clear water with good vegetation/cover they usually will take on a darker color on their back, green on their sides and white on their belly. This is when they also have the beautiful green horizontal bar across their side. When they suspend out in deep water or even in shallow muddy water they will take on a more faded/bleached out appearance, it can even be a buttery color. This is because their only cover is either each other in a school or the open water. When they are in shallow clear rocky or wood cover with no vegetation they can also be more black and white. By having a more uniform color appearance in open or muddy water they are less noticeable by predators or prey.

So when you catch a fish in shallow clear water and the fish is more pale in color it did in fact most likely "come up" from deeper water or from being suspended off shore unless the water is cold and muddy. Most color changes can happen fairly quickly (less than a day.)

Good luck and tight lines,

Michael Piskel


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