Choosing Spoon Colors for Great Lakes Fishing

By Elliot Heiney

Choosing which color of spoons to use when targeting trout and salmon on the Great Lakes is often the biggest factor in an exciting fishing trip and a casual slow boat ride.   Depending on how recent you fished it can be a quick decision in which spoon is being used to target the fish or it can be a long process usually involving, “I have no idea. You pick!”  But if you use just a little bit of science, you can generally put the correct color spoon in the correct water zones that will be most visible to the fish.

Color selection can be the difference between beauties like this or going home empty handed.

First off this will vary depending on water clarity and on the amount of sunlight that day in the sky so this often will be tweaked on a daily basis.  The depth of each lure you plan to use should all depend on the old acronym “ROY G BIV” which stands for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.   This is the order at which color “disappears” in the water column.  Reds and oranges will be filtered out around 20 foot of water (fow) and yellow will start to become a dull grey color around 50fow.  By the time your bait reaches 70fow the only thing that is still remotely visible are greens, blues, and purples.

Which species you are targeting can also help you decide on which spoon is going into the water.  Coho salmon and Rainbow trout (or Steelhead) generally will hit orange and red colored baits and they generally will be found in the top of the water column.  Chinook salmon (or Kings) will be found throughout the water column and generally prefer greens and blues.  Lake trout are a little bit of an outlier as they are found in the lower half of the water column yet feed mostly on red and yellow baits.

Now there are always exceptions to every rule and every fisherman has their go to bait or go to color that seems to catch fish in any depth.  But if you follow these basic ideas you can put the proper baits in the water and increase your success rate each time you hit the water.

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