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This is my first summer of serious bassing, and also the first time I've fished for (and caught) bass in my local estuary.

What I noticed was that the fish in the estuary were of a different colour to those I'm catching out in the bay. Those in the estuary were more or less sandy coloured on their backs, whilst those caught in the bay were silver.

Has anyone else noticed variations in bass colour?

Is this simply natural variation, or can they adapt their colour to the environment? Maybe it's down to diet?
 

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I have noticed the variation in colours on bass backs - many our way are sandy coloured, but also bronze and right through to black. I have always assumed it is to make them blend into the environment they frequent but recently I heard something regarding bass going darker upon maturity but not sure if this is true? What I would be keen to understand is whether bass have similar chromatophores in their skin to e.g. squid etc that allow them to change colour rapidly. Anyone have any ideas?
 

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My belief is that they adapt their colour to their environment. The Bass below was caught by Luke on a Storm Beach . . . .



While the Bass below, whilst of very similar size, was caught a couple of miles further up the coast on a reef . . .





I caught a 6lb'er last year off a wild Irish reef, full of large boulders, and kelp beds, and the back was practically 'black' . . .



Whilst i have no scientific evidence to back up my beliefs, from my experience / observations, the Bass seen above have been consistent with my findings having fished these different sorts of environments on a regular basis. Pretty much all the Bass i catch off clean beaches are the pale silvery colour seen in the top pic, whilst the reef-caught fish are black / bronze across the back, depending on the specifics of the terrain. Again, in my opinion, i would have thought that they are able to change this colour fairly rapidly, as they must surely move around across these varying terrains?
 

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Pike are very much the same as in some are dark and some more lightly coloured according to their enviroment etc.
I used to fish a "secret water" back in the 80s and 90s that had an area of submerged trees (orchard) and when I caught fish from this area of the lake they were darker than fish from the other end of the lake.
Pike can be very terratorial though.
 

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Si s reply sums it up totally. Bass caught from beaches or esturays are a lighter colour than ones caught from rocky areas. I think they must change colour to suit the area they are in at any given time.
 

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My experience leads me to believe bass vary in colour according to the environment they are caught in. This is not due to predatory pressure leading to inapropriate colours being more likely to be eaten hence the ones that survive are better suited to that environment as found in eg welk populations, but due to an ability for the fish to adapt over releative short periods of time. E.G I have seen almost aneamic barbel from flood water yet the same fish during a sustained drought can be deep bronze when caught. Like Simon I have also observed mch variation according to water colour with dard backed fish in clear water, washed out bass in coloured water.

Matt
 

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I think that most fish haver ther ability to subtly change colour (or contrast) to suit their current surroundings. Perch will usually be quite subdued and dull in colour when he water is cloudy, but really show their stripes in clear water when they need to merge in with more contrasting backgrounds.
 

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Here in Jersey we have caught many bass late season with tinges of blue on the pectoral & anal fins !!! could any body please explain a reason for this, its a most amazing colour blue ?
Bob could it be due to something that they are eating around that time of the year ?
There may be something that they are 'gorging' on...............
 

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Last week i noticed how the bass varied in colour during one session at a rocky mark in south devon. The larger ones caught first had dark backs while the slightly smaller ones taken half an hour to an hour later were anemic in comparison. Fish were everywhere for about an hour and the river yealm is a mile or so down the coast and i'm wondering if perhaps the rough weather had mixed them up a bit in terms of territory?
 

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Here in Jersey we have caught many bass late season with tinges of blue on the pectoral & anal fins !!! could any body please explain a reason for this, its a most amazing colour blue ?
Bob I've mentioned this lots of times before. I'd love to know the full biological answer to the "blue" bass thing, but what I can tell you is that over the years I have seen many bass underwater on open water in "silver" mode, resting in gulleys often near or under overhanging kelp in a subdued dark colour, as if closed down for a snooze (spearos often refer to dozing or sleeping bass) and then apparently waking up or coming around and going "blue" along their back and their fins.

It seems to be only the bigger fish that can do this, the same ones that can go the darker colour and if you look at their skin, I mean the membrane over their fins and under their scales, you can see what appear to be some sort of chromatophore cells, looking like little dots of colour. But that's where my observations blur into a lack of biological certainty I'm afraid.

All I know is that any bass angler who saw a big "blue" bass beginning to cruise along over the top of a dark kelp bed would be amazed how they stand out. They are not feeding at that precise stage, they seem to be waking up as I said and I wonder whether the "blue" fin thing is a remainder of that colouring after they have fully woken up.

Apologies if this sounds a bit daft to anyone, but you really should see it.
 

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Watching them attack a shoal of sandeels is the ultimate Bob. Seen it at the Ecrehous, the Minquiers and on the SW of Jersey.

They move so fast you can barely track them. At the Minquiers they were attacking bigger launce and were shadowed by a couple of lunker wrasse that picked off a couple of 'eels. Those wrasse knew exactly what was going on and had done it before, for sure.

I don't want to come back as a sandeel.
 
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