You've spent the July afternoon out on the lake fishing for bass, but all you have to show for your efforts is sunburn and a headache. It's not you -- every angler you meet says the bass just aren't biting right now, even though this lake is known for its superb bass fishing.
Clearly, it's time for a change. Nighttime bass fishing is the perfect summer fishing experience, although some anglers believe that it works in warm climates in any season. The practice became popular during the 1960s with the introduction of the bass boat.
In addition to remaining cooler and avoiding sunburn, you'll find other advantages to fishing at night:
- There's less competition, except perhaps on weekends and holidays. You may not have the entire lake to yourself, but at least you won't be losing your temper from the noise made by pleasure boats, jet skiers or water skiers.
- Although other anglers may be out, at night it's much more peaceful.
- Some experienced anglers believe that they catch larger fish at night.
- During warm days, bass wait until things cool off in the evening to feed, so it's easier to catch them at night.
Now that you're convinced you need to try night fishing, there are other questions to answer. First, when's the best time for night fishing?
When to Go Bass Fishing at Night
Summer is the usual season for bass fishing, although in warm climates such as Florida or along the Gulf of Mexico, the season doesn't really matter. It's good to know, too, that during hot weather months, bass can be found in both shallow and deep water. If you hesitate to take out a boat at night, you can always fish from the banks.
Some anglers believe that there are three "best" times during the night for catching large bass: dusk, midnight and just prior to dawn. You might want to try each time for a few hours and see if the big bass are biting. [source: Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources]
Nights with a full moon are considered prime bass fishing times. Bass have a tendency to feed more during bright moonlit nights. Another bonus of a full moon -- the moonlight cuts down on your need for flashlights or running lights. However, you may need to adjust your lures for moonlight -- more on that topic soon! [source: Hood]
The boat is loaded, the moon is full -- but what's on the end of your fishing line? Read on for some truly alluring tips.
Lures for Bass Fishing at Night
Although it doesn't seem logical, many anglers have found that dark lures are most effective for night fishing. Remember that bass don't have the same vision as people. [source: Bass Fishing.org] It turns out, the bass can see the dark lures more easily, because they are lit by the sky. Dark colors, like black, purple, deep blue, brown and burgundy, create a silhouette on the water that the bass can see. [sources: Hood, Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Watts]
Another recommendation is to use a black, short-arm spinner bait, with a single large Colorado blade. The blade and short arm together create a thump and vibration that attracts bass even at a distance. Bass are attracted to vibrations as well as to sound and color, so the combination is important. Bass feeding at night rely on feeling rather than seeing their prey. Just as you care about the flash of the lure during the day, you need to be concerned with its thump at night. [source: Cork] If the bass are feeding primarily on bream, use a larger thump than if they are feeding on shad. You may also want to vary the size of the Colorado blade to see what's working best. [source: Cork]
If you're fishing in smaller lakes, streams or even farm ponds, don't neglect the classic black jitterbug, which creates a lot of noise. [source: Hood] Another strategy for making some noise is to use rattles on crankbait, spinnerbait or inside a plastic worm. You should be equipped with 7- to 10-inch plastic worms, 4- to 6-inch skirted double-tailed grubs, and large lizards made of soft plastic. [source: Hood, Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources]
What are some of the special tricks of fishing for bass at night? Cast a line out over to the next section.
Tips for Bass Fishing at Night
Here are some last-minute tips to remember before heading out:
- Night's inactivity magnifies sound, and bass feeding in shallow water after sundown are easily spooked by noises. Try not to drop equipment or slam tackle box lids.
- Bass don't prefer murky waters. Choose lakes that are clear, not thunderstorm-muddled or algae-stained. [source: Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources]
- Perhaps you're concerned about the effects of lost sleep when you're night fishing. If you anchor the boat, napping is always possible -- sometimes it can be a while between strikes. Another advantage to anchoring is that it allows the fish to get used to your boat sitting in their spot. Once they've adjusted, they're more likely to bite.
- If bugs have you bothered, fear not. Most of the bugs don't bite; they just bother. In any case, they tend to go away about an hour after dark. And there may well be a breeze that will keep most of them away. If you're really worried, take along insect repellent. [source: Bass Fishing.org]
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
More Great Links
- Bass Fishing Techniques. "Advice on Fishing at Night."http://www.bassfishingtechniques.net/night-fishing.html (Accessed 11/04/08)
- Consumer Search.com. "Insect Repellent Reviews."http://www.consumersearch.com/insect-repellent (Accessed 11/04/08)
- Cork, Michael. "Night Fishing for Bass." Ultimate Bass.http://www.ultimatebass.com/content/view/6/48/ (Accessed 11/04/08)
- Discover Boating.com. "Bass Boats." (Accessed 11/04/08)http://www.discoverboating.com/buying/types/detail.aspx?id=20
- Dodson, Ronald F. "Bass Boat Evolution." Bass Resource.http://www.bassresource.com/fishing/bass_boat_features.html (Accessed 11/05/08)
- Hood, Bob. "Night Bass." Bass Resource.http://www.bassresource.com/fishing/night_bass_fishing_tips.html (Accessed 11/05/08)
- · Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "Turn to Night Time Fishing for Bass."http://www.outdoorcentral.com/mc/pr/05/05/23a2d.asp (Accessed 11/05/08)
- Bass Fishing.org. "Lake Fork - Night Fishing."http://www.bassfishing.org/LakeFork-Night-Fishing.htm (Accessed 11/05/08)
- Watts, Gary. "Night Fishing." Bass Fishing USA.|http://www.bassfishingusa.com/Articles/GW-Article-02.html (Accessed 11/05/08)
- We Rate Boats.com. "Bass Boats."http://www.werateboats.com/reports/bassboat.asp (Accessed 11/05/08)