In the heat of the summer in many parts of the country, bass fishing during the day time can be brutal. With air temperatures that can rise well past the 100 degrees mark in the shade, it doesn't make for a good time on the water. In many lakes, ponds and even rivers, most bass have made transitions towards deeper and cooler water. Fishing offshore structures put us, the angler right out in the middle on the lake with no protection from direct sunlight. During these times, I have found night fishing to be a great alternative to battling the scorching sun.
One of my favorite things about nighttime bass fishing is that it’s another one of those opportunities to catch a real trophy sized bass. To this day, there are still not as many folks that go out night fishing as you would think… and in turn, there’s less pressure on bass.
If you’ve never been out night fishing before, there’s a few things to consider. For starters, anyone who bass fishes regularly has experienced the “sunset frenzy”. That little window before the lights go out when it seems like the whole lake comes to life. Bass and other game fish seem to be more aggressive during this time frame right before dark. If you notice, frenzy is often followed by a lull when bass simply stop biting. I can’t say for sure, but I have always felt like there is an adjustment period where bass need to get acclimated to the absence of light. Once they do, their activity level usually goes back to a more aggressive one.
One other thing to consider is that following any feeding frenzy, many times bass have gorged themselves and that can also play into the absence of strikes. No matter what the reason, there is usually a period of inactivity somewhere during the transition from light to dark So when I consider what time to go out night fishing, I try to factor this in as part of my decision making process as to what time I should hit the water. If you don’t mind waiting out the lull, getting there an hour before lights out can be a lot of fun. It will also help you to determine what time the night bite really turns on for your next trip.
Whether you’re fishing from a boat or walking the shoreline, safety is also something that you’ll need to keep in mind. If you going out on a boat, make sure you bring a fishing buddy. It only takes one slip and you could be in over your head… figuratively speaking. If you’re beating the bank, it doesn’t hurt to have someone with you, but there’s no reason you can’t go it alone.
Good lighting can be your best friend, I recommend investing $10 in a clip on LED hat lamp. They come in different color lights in case you prefer colored lighting (which doesn’t attract as many bugs to your face). Some die hard night anglers even go the extent of installing removable black lighting systems on their boats. No matter what your lighting choice is, just remember that our eyes need to adjust to changes in light conditions, so the darker it is, sometimes the better your eyes can adjust to the absence of light. I like to use light sparingly at night.
Another type of light to consider are those that may be present around the body of water you are fishing. For example in many parks, there is usually lighting around pathways or even street lights which cast onto the water you may be fishing. This attract baitfish and in turn bass. Keep in mind that more often, bass will be nearby lurking in the shadows (even at night) as opposed to sitting directly in the lighted area. Something to use to your advantage as an angler.
This one is pretty obvious, but I felt I still should mention it... Make sure you bring bug spray!!! If there’s a breeze you might not need it, but always better safe than sorry. Also since we’re on the subject of pests, if you have bats in your area, they often peck at your fishing line thinking it is a bug. It takes some getting used to telling the difference between a bat hit and a bass hit. Generally they don’t bother you when you’re fishing though.
Lures and Colors
Perhaps the single biggest question I get asked when I’m talking with someone who is interested in night fishing is “what should I use”? For the most part, pretty much anything that works during the day, works at night. I like many other anglers have my favorites. Here’s my nighttime “go to” list:
Jig and Trailer
Texas Rigged Worms
Top Water Lures (Sammy, Zara Spook, Jitterbug, Frog, etc.)
This is one of my favorite times to use oversized or larger lures for bass. When the big ones are on the prowl at night, they love a big meal. So when I choose a worm, I go with a 10” instead of 7”. I like a bigger trailer on my jigs, like a 4” beaver or craw. Same goes for spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, top water and swimbaits… size up!
Finally and for me most importantly is color choices. There are only three colors to choose from at night… black, black or black! Nothing is darker than black, so it shows against everything else, including lighter shades of black. There’s also information out there that discusses how other colors turn some shade of gray due to the absence of light. If you’d like to save yourself some reading… just use black.
Although you can catch bass at night during the heat of the summer in and around the same deep water structures you may fish during the day, there’s always bass that like to move up and cruise shallow flats looking to ambush unsuspecting prey.
Although it might seem a bit difficult, flipping lay downs and shoreline brush can be awesome at night. Look for areas with street lights nearby if you’re trying this for the first time. If you’re comfortable enough casting in the dark areas, it’s one of the best ways to increase your ability to feel objects in the water. Working a jig around cover at night really heightens your sense of feel.
Just because it’s dark out, don’t overlook pitching and skipping around boat docks at night. Many people have lights on their docks which make it easier to see. Lights attract smaller fish and in turn bass. Just remember to be respectful of people’s property when you’re fishing around their docks and be observant of dock lines that may be in the water.
There’s really no limit to where you can try fishing at night, you just have to give it a try. Something else to keep in mind is that even though an area may not produce well for you during the day, that doesn’t mean it might not be good at night. Some of my best night spots are places that I have rarely caught fish during the day. Keep an open mind and you might be surprised what you can find.
So the next time you’re planning to battle the sun in the heat of the summer, don’t forget you could always wait until the lights go out. It’s a great way to catch your personal best bass too!