By Gene Kira, Aug. 5, 2002, as published in Western Outdoor News:
During most days of fishing on both coasts of Baja California, Mexico, it's often fascinating to observe how selective fish can be about lure colors--and how quickly and arbitrarily their preferences can switch from one color to another.
Even though it can drive you nuts, there is some consistency to this process. To give yourself the best chance of success, you need to carry as efficient a selection of colors as possible, and there have been two times when I went to some special effort to discover what those colors might be for Baja.
Back when it was still possible, I once ordered Jointed Rebel Fastracs in every color then listed by the manufacturer, about two-dozen of them, including all those fluorescent "salmon" colors that look like spotted clown outfits. The Jointed Rebel is a 40-year-old design, and over the years, I had come to agree with the legendary Neil Kelly that the original blue-silver, black-silver, and black-gold colors, augmented by the newer orange-gold, (and the missing green-mackerel, more later) made it the best inshore Baja lure ever. This is the lure recommended in The Baja Catch, and I have caught literally thousands of fish with them.
But I wasn't 100 percent sure that these were the absolute best colors, so I ordered everything in the catalog as a test.
One day, the big box of lures arrived, about 50 of them in every color pattern you could think of. Some colors were so bright, you needed dark glasses to tie them on. I dutifully trolled all those lures around, side-by-side with my regular stuff, and guess what? The best colors turned out to be the four originals (orange-gold, blue-silver, black-silver, and black-gold, in that order). The only other color I would add to this set is green-mackerel (something like the classic Rapala pattern), which Rebel in their infinite wisdom, does not produce.
I'd love to have some green-mackerel Jointed Fastracs to fill out the set, but the Rebel factory now requires a purchase of 600 lures to do a special color run--waaaay too many lures for any single person. However, if any readers of this column would like to join me in a group purchase, call or send me an email, and maybe we can get it going.
The other time I went crazy on lure colors was with the "skirted squid" vinyl trolling hoochies also recommended in The Baja Catch. These very low-priced little jewels catch dorado better than anything else I've ever trolled, but they are so cheap, I guess the stores don't like to carry them. They are very hard to find in decent colors.
After lots of experimentation, we recommended a basic set of colors in The Baja Catch, but as with the Rebels, I wanted to make sure, so I scrounged around for over a year and finally obtained about a cubic foot of hoochies, hundreds of them, representing every wild color you could think of.
Again, after extensive testing, the best colors turned out to be almost exactly the same as what we started out with. For Baja, at least, it's pretty consistent.
As a final test, I checked with Minerva Smith of Minerva's Tackle in Cabo San Lucas. Minerva has the best, most up-to-date feel for Baja trolling colors of anyone I can think of, and I wanted to check my list against hers. We came up with surprisingly good agreement, considering how subjective lure choice is.
There are actually about a dozen "best colors" that you need, but for starters, here is what seems to be a pretty good basic set of productive trolling skirt colors for Baja:
1. Original Petrolero (black, brown, silver and orange).
2. Guacamaya (yellow, orange and green).
3. Purple and Black.
4. Bleeding Mackerel (orange, yellow and red).
5. Mean Joe Green (black and green).
6. Hula Skirt and Pink Panties (lime green and fluorescent pink)
7. Mexican Flag (dark green, red and gold).
Please feel free to add your own favorites to this list, such as Purple-Mist, Red-White, Plain-White (Ray Cannon's favorite), Blue-Silver, etc., etc. As a final note, fluorescent pink is usually very effective when added underneath or behind any of these skirt colors.
(Related Baja California, Mexico, articles and reports may be found at Mexfish.com's main Baja California information page. See weekly fishing news, photos, and reports from the major sportfishing vacation areas of Mexico including the Baja California area in "Mexico Fishing News.")