The simple answer to this is yes, they do! Most fish species have the ability to change their color and pattern intensity to suit their needs. The two most common reasons for their color change are breeding and camouflage. When spring arrives and breeding begins, for most species, vibrant colors and markings are used to attract mates and intimidate rivals. Throughout the rest of the year, color can fluctuate to match the environment and aid in hiding from predators or being more successful while hunting. Largemouth bass are the most common species to witness this occurrence because they can be found in such a diverse range of surroundings: light gray rock and gravel, dark brown sand and mud, varying shades of green vegetation and so on. Water with high turbidity and low visibility often results in fish appearing “dull” grey or gold with very vague patterns. Fish taken from thick vegetation and clear water tend to be the liveliest colored with very bold patterns. While coloration is dependent on a variety of different factors, fish are ultimately a product of their environment and will adapt accordingly.
The above picture shows a typically colored largemouth bass (top) and a “dull” largemouth (bottom), which was taken from very turbid, dirty water.