The moon is out, the stars are bright, the sky has a light cloud cover, and the weather is perfect. The warm summer breeze gently stirs up the water’s surface as you cast that crankbait along the shore of the southern pond, looking to snag a hungry bass searching for a midnight snack.
This situation and many like it makes night bass fishing so enjoyable. The peace of the outdoors settling into its nocturnal state. While still getting to rip lips is an experience unlike any other. However, with a few simple tricks. Bass fishing at night can go from a late-night way to unwind to a feeding frenzy in no time.
Bass Fishing at night could hypothetically occur on any body of water with bass. However, bass fishing streams and rivers at night are often not as successful as ponds and lakes. There are a myriad of reasons for this, from current to structure. However, anglers looking for the highest likelihood of filling up a stringer while nighttime bass fishing should stick to the ponds and lakes.
To catch bass at night, anglers should focus on focus on the day and nighttime temperatures, whether it’s a good moon phase or the time of year. Windy nights, partially cloudy nights or a bright moon can affect the success of the trip more than most anglers expect. So paying attention to the fine details can help you hook into a big fish.
Bass fishing at night, when done correctly, can be as easy as angling during the day. With the right equipment and a few tips, you might not catch more bass than on a daytime trip. But you’ll catch some of the biggest bass of any time of the day.
Bass are opportunistic predators, so if you can locate the food, you have probably found a hungry bass as well. Following this line of thought, if you can draw the food to you, you can be sure the bass are soon to follow. Docks are excellent sources of cover, providing structure for bait and juvenile fish to escape from predators. Particularly at night, if you illuminate dark water and/or chum the waters around a dock. You will find a miniature feeding frenzy occurring in the water beneath you.
The increased activity of smaller fish will draw in the predators, bringing the bass right to you. One of my favorite techniques when angling from the dock is to catch a juvenile perch and place it beneath a cork on a midsize hook without a sinker. If placed in the middle of the feeding frenzy, this fish struggles amidst the schools of another fish feeding on the chum, presenting a ripe opportunity for hungry largemouth bass or, often, catfish to swallow up.
Additionally, docks provide cover for the bass themselves to ambush from. There have been plenty of retrieves that I have brought almost all the way back to the pier before receiving a strike from a bass that was not 5 feet from me. It’s important for anglers to target the shadow lines and submerged pilings or supports of docks which can often house lurking bass.
Submerged trees are a common structure to find went bass fishing. From sunken leftover Christmas trees to fallen Oaks or Cypress trunks leftover from a storm, each of these provides a unique habitat for ambush predators such as bass. At night, mini bass returned their layer and remained in their sanctum to avoid potential predators without the low illumination. However, by using artificial sources of light, including black lights or white lights taped to the boat or a floating orb, anglers can draw out bass from their lair.
On a July night in McComb, Mississippi, I placed a submerged light next to a second Christmas tree and threw out 2 cups of fish food to chum the water. With a nightcrawler on a perch hook under a small cork, I cast out next to the submerged structure and waited. While I was surprised my cork went under with such ferocity, I was even more shocked to find that a juvenile largemouth bass had taken up my night crawler without a moment’s hesitation. Quickly switching over to a jig, I caught several crappies and two more largemouth bass of about the same size off the same Christmas tree in a matter of minutes.
If you’re catching onto a theme of structure and illumination when targeting locations for bass fishing at night, you’re on the money.
The final location you’ll often find success at when bass fishing at night is offshoots/drainage points. These locations are usually connected to running water, meaning there is an influx or outflow of fish. These moving waterways provide a current which brings nutrients for the smaller fish and, by default, a food source for the bass.
Even without artificial illumination, I have caught several bass lurking just inside of runoff ditches on a lake or lurking next to drainage pipes at night. The truck with these locations creates as much disturbance, making topwater frogs my primary choice when angling off of these moving water components. Casting up into these waterways and working towards the mouth often yields the best results, as the bass are usually sitting just out of the current, waiting for food to come by.
Bass fishing from a boat at night presents its own set of challenges. Not only is it inherently more dangerous than angling from sure due to limited visibility and lack of navigational awareness, but it also presents a difficulty for anglers of knowing where to cast. From shore, the disturbances created by anglers are minimal.
Aside from the splash created by the lure, the bass or relatively unaware of an angler‘s presence due to the lack of illumination casting shadows. With the boat, the footprint on the water surface is exponentially more significant and can alert the already wary bass to anglers’ presence.
To combat this, anglers should look to park up or downstream from their intended location and either anchor or use their trolling motor to maintain station, working their lures back to the boat rather than angling directly over their fishing hole.
If anglers intend to use boat-borne lights, they should still remove themselves slightly from their intended fishing hole, as parking directly on top is never a good idea day or night. When angling from a boat and using illumination devices, I favor jigs as they can be angled vertically off the side of the boat or easily cast nearby without disturbing the water the way a topwater or crankbait would.
Angling from shore for bass at night presents its own set of challenges. While the inherent risk of operating a boat on the water at night isn’t present, anglers are required to keep their wits about them when walking the shoreline or dock, being wary of species of insects or reptiles that could do them harm.
Additionally, angling along banks at night has led to more than one busted ass, slipping down the embankment and muddying up someone’s jeans. With that said, angling from the shoreline allows fishermen to cast towards the middle. Allowing you to work back towards the shoreline where the bait fish are hiding.
This prevents the prime target, a bass, from being spooked while covering more water in a single cast. Shoreline fishing also provides a level of mobility to the angler the boat does not.
Transitioning 20 or 30 feet down the bank on foot doesn’t require the activation of a motor that would disturb the environment but simply a retrieval and a new fishing hole. One of the important factors when angling off the bank for bass at night is that each stretch of shoreline has its own unique features, and each could hold a trophy bass.
Anglers get caught up in the fact that it’s all one body of water and miss the fact that stretches of shoreline are like fingerprints, with no two sections being the same. The hidden or submerged structures, drop-offs, and vegetation in each form a different mini ecosystem that could be teaming with baitfish and big bass or completely devoid of any aquatic life.
When angling from shore at night. I prefer to use spoons or spinnerbaits, as these are easy to cast and reflect the natural moonlight well. Also simulating a fluttering wounded baitfish to draw in a hungry bass.
Night fishing is incredibly similar to angling during the day. The ideal conditions are not extremes either, but rather the right mix of cloud cover and light. Similarly, the temperature conditions should mimic the day, having only fallen slightly.
When it comes to the lighting during night fishing, the moon should be treated the same way as the sun. Like how the best bites usually come with a rising or setting sun, just after nightfall and just before dawn are the perfect time to get out on the water. Besides a full moon and a new moon, the moon cycle is limited in how much it will affect night fishing.
Far more prevalent is the temperature and how this factors into fishing conditions. Because bass act similarly to their behavior during the day, they will seek out deep water during the highest Illume and warmest parts of the night while hitting the shoreline during dawn and dusk.
During the hot and humid months of summer, warm nights might be filled with insects, but they are also rich with hungry bass. Anglers looking to night fish for bass should capitalize on these muggy nights as the hot days drive bass into deep water where only a texas rig can reach them. The nights then become a time when bass feed heavily from dusk till dawn.
Also, similar to angling during the day, a moving pressure system is best. If it is all possible, angling during a falling pressure system at night will yield the best results. However, because falling pressure systems are usually correlated with storms, be careful in the darkness, which can leave anglers stranded.
Insider Tip: Paying attention to the moon cycles is one of the most effective ways to capitalize on night fishing. Don’t waste time on the water nights with high-pressure systems and a full or new moon.
A handful of pieces of equipment can make angling for bass at night not only more successful. But also more enjoyable and, most importantly, safe.
While most people have now switched to their phones at night. Caution handling slippery fish could be the difference between the ability to call home and another iPhone lost 20,000 leagues under the sea. Expandable flashlights are not that expensive, and angler should not risk their phones to be able to see at night.
Headlamps are an even better alternative. Headlamps allow anglers to operate hands-free while having the perfect amount of illumination pointing in their working direction.
No matter what form of illumination anglers choose. It’s essential to ensure that spare batteries, alternative light sources, and a retention device are available to keep from losing the lights.
Whether on a boat or from the dock, blacklight can make all the difference when angling at night. When incorporating a fluorescent monofilament line, it shows up as a laser when struck with black light, cutting through the water and illuminating right to the lure.
And with many systems to choose from, black lights can fit directly onto boat rails, shine down from a pole, or be attached to the underside of a boat to illuminate all available casting positions. Most models come with a switch that allows for dimmer intensity depending upon the illume conditions and the environment.
Insider Tip: Black lights cannot fix muddy water. They work best in clear water with visibility.
While during the day, many anglers are comfortable utilizing their hands to bring in their catch. Incorporating Annette is a much safer tactic at night. Not only are anglers unable to identify what they have on the end of their line till it’s up close and personal. But also, due to the low light conditions. It’s a safer and more effective way of ensuring that whatever is on the end of your line does not slip away.
Everyone has their favorite tackle, but there is a handful that is genuinely explosive at night. “These lures capitalize on movement and sound, which are Bass’s primary mode of hunting in low illumination.
Love them or hate them, a topwater frog is one of the most effective baits to throw when angling for bass at night. The sounds they produce, combined with the disturbance they create on the top water, are unlike any other. Popping frogs work best for large bass, mainly when working across transitions where the light may change.
One of the highest-producing beats to throw at night is a buzz bait. Even if the wind is a factor, a buzz bait creates the right amount of disturbance. Without being overkill and can even put a glint in the eye of a hungry bass if the light is just right. Buzz baits are easy to cast, noisy, and flashy. Although sight hunting is not a primary basses mode of predation at night, the right colors can make the difference depending on the illumination.
Insider tip: more colorful doors will be most effective on nights with higher illumination. Conversely, earthier tones and darker baits work best on nights with lower brightness.
Jigs are a solid choice when it comes to angling at night. Imitating bottom-feeding creatures that scuttle and scurry from their hiding places to feast along the base can be perfect for enticing large bass to strike. However, they do not have to be fished at the bottom of the water column. They can be tantalizingly dangled at any depth for large bass to strike.
The success of this beat depends entirely upon the illumination of the night in question. Under a low ilium night, anglers should not incorporate spoons into their strategy. However, spoons can be the hottest item on the menu on nights with a significant amount of moonlight. A subdued silver or gold flashing like an injured minnow with a jerky retrieve can bring a stringer full of trophy bass.
Insider Tip: A colorado blade is always a welcome addition to a rig when night fishing, adding vibrations and enhancing visibility.
Methods to the Madness
The following are a few rules of thumb that keep tangling for bass at night simple yet effective.
Make it pop or stop; stealth is not your friend.
Work the transitions
If there is shade, variance in-depth, offshoots, or ditches, those are key points to focus on.
Patience is vital
While night fishing may not be the highest-yielding time to fish, it is often when the largest are caught.
Outlive its Usefulness
If one bait is not working, feel free to switch it out for something that may be better suited to the environment.
Mesh & Chum
When bass fishing at night from docks. Using mesh bags filled with fish food is a great way to lock chum in place. Simply tie it off with a zip tie and shake it in the water several times to permeate the water with the scent of fish food next to the artificial illumination device.
Blood in the water
Surprisingly, some of the most success I’ve had fast-fishing at night haven’t come from plastic lures. But from small crappie or minnows hooked under a cork and allowed to roam free. Similar to a Catfish jug setup, bass prefers to live with struggling prey to cut bait making this an ideal setup for bass over catfish. Set the hook a third to halfway down the water column beneath the cork and hook the fish through the lower lip without a weight on the line, allowing it to swim freely in the water column.
This has proved to be an incredibly effective technique for us, and anglers can run several lines from shore at once.
Paying attention to what insects and other bait come out at night. It can help anglers achieve success when bass fishing in the dark. While certain species may be incredibly prevalent during the day, there are a variety of insects and amphibians that make their appearance towards dusk and into the night. Selecting lures that closely resemble the species can help anglers have an edge up on the bass and fill up the stringer faster.
A factor often overlooked when fishing at night is the weather during the day. On days that are filled with adverse weather conditions, fish haven’t had a chance to feed during daylight.
Allowing the water to settle down and regain some of its clarity before angling is important. But anglers can capitalize on the fish’s extended stay without feeding by targeting evening and night hours once the inclement weather has dissipated.
Additionally, the night before a storm where the pressure system is dropping. This can have a high yield of fish looking to feed before the storm sets in. The combination of the right illumination and a low-pressure system. Can turn night fishing for bass into a feeding frenzy unmatched during daylight hours.
Angling for bass at night can be quite an adventure. Utilizing a few tricks of the trade and the proper tackle. It can bring home an absolute monster in the ice chest. The angler should look to minimize the risks while maximizing their chances of getting one on the hook by bringing along gear. Such as flashlights, nets, and black lights and paying attention to the environment. Best of luck, and as always, stay safe on the water.