10 Tips For Fishing Largemouth Bass At Night
In the prime fishing summer months, a popular lake can be nearly choked by other anglers, boaters, swimmers and other people out having fun on the water. While the atmosphere can be festive, it often times makes carving out space to fish in peace and quiet a challenge.
If you want an alternative to the crowds, or you’re just looking to catch largemouth in a different way than you’ve tried before, consider night fishing.
When the sun goes down, big largemouth often become active feeders. With the right techniques, you can pull in trophy bass at night.
But in order to successfully fish at night, it’s important to understand how night fishing differs from angling during the day. Here are ten tips, techniques and tricks that will help you target largemouth bass at night.
1. Sound is Key
During the daytime and in clear waters, largemouth bass are primarily sight hunters. As a result, many bass lures and baits focus on visual presentation. Bright colors, shiny metals and lifelike plastics and stick baits are all popular choices.
But during the night, hunting bass focus far more on finding prey by sound. As a result, baits and lures that incorporate a strong element of noise during retrieval are better choices for night fishing.
Any kind of bait that displaces water on the surface or features a rattle or chattering sound will give you an extra edge when fishing for largemouth after the sun has gone down.
2. Clear Water is Your Friend
While bass will key in more on sounds during the night, they still will hunt by sight if possible. Once night falls, it takes around a half hour for largemouth vision to adjust for the diminished light. Once they’ve adjusted, the bass will begin to hunt.
However, if the water is too murky, the combination of the lack of light and the low visibility water conditions will make it almost impossible for bass to see anything. In waters like these, bass will usually feed during the daytime.
Ideally, you want to night fish for largemouth on bodies of water with relatively clear water. The unobstructed water conditions will allow bass to see enough to hunt during the night.
3. Focus on the Shallows
The typical daily pattern for largemouth during the summer months goes like this: During the heat of the day, largemouth will be relatively inactive, suspended in deeper water. As dusk and night approach, they’ll start to become more active, moving more toward the shallows looking for bait fish and minnows.
By the time night has fallen, big largemouth will typically be found closer to shore, often close to vegetation or shore bound structure. This makes fishing from shore an attractive option for nighttime bass fishing.
You don’t need to get way out there on the water to find the fish – In fact, all the action is likely to be within feet of the shore.
4. Topwater Can Produce Outstanding Results
One of the best ways to catch bass at night is with topwater lures. Some of my greatest success catching bass after sundown has been with buzzbaits, jitterbugs, poppers and other topwater lures such as frogs.
Topwater won’t work every night – Sometimes the bass just won’t come up to take a lure off the surface. But when it’s working, running topwater along the shoreline can produce some of the most spectacular strikes and most consistent results.
If you’ve got relatively clear water and low to non-existent winds, be sure to try out a topwater lure or two when night fishing for largemouth.
5. Tailor Your Tackle
One mistake many people make when night fishing for largemouth is to bring too much in the way of tackle out onto the lake.
When it comes to night fishing, though, less is usually more. There are a number of reasons to pack light when night fishing, but the general rule is that you want to pack as little as you can get away with.
Try to stick with one rod and reel and a minimal tackle box containing only a few lures you’ll be using. No need to bring the massive 20 pound tackle box with every lure and rig you own or six different rods and reels.
6. Be Careful with Light and Noise
One of the biggest reasons you want to limit the amount of gear you’re bringing out to night fish is limiting the amount of noise you make.
As we discussed earlier, largemouth become more reliant on their sense of hearing at night. This means they’re more sensitive to noise coming from a boat or on shore. It’s easier to scare bass away at night than it is during the day.
This goes for light too – Shining a blinding light during night time is likely to spook fish in the surrounding waters. You can purchase lights specifically designed for night fishing. These lights will give you enough illumination to change a lure without frightening all the fish away.
7. Don’t Overwork Bait or Lures
During the night time and with decreased visibility, bass will miss more strikes than they do during the day. This is going to happen no matter what you do – Expect that you’ll have a few more near-misses no matter what type of lure you’re fishing with.
But you can tilt the odds more in your favor by not overworking your lures while fishing at night. Avoid jerking or popping your bait too much. This can be the difference between a fish trying to strike but missing and successfully hitting the bait.
8. Color Largely Doesn’t Matter
During the daytime, lure coloration can be absolutely critical. The difference between a pumpkin colored plastic vs. a green one can be the difference between getting shut out completely and boating a dozen largemouth. If you’re not used to night fishing, you might carry over the same mindset to night fishing.
But in the night, most colored lures tend to look a fairly similar dark gray, blue or black. The main factors that will draw strikes include vibration, noise and metallic shine in the low light.
That’s not to say that color makes no difference at night, especially in clear water lakes under a full or nearly full moon. In those conditions, it might be worth experimenting with color combinations if you’re not catching any fish.
But for the most part, don’t stress about lure coloration when night fishing for largemouth.
9. Pick Your Fishing Conditions Carefully
Night fishing can produce incredible hauls of bass, but you often have to be a little bit selective in choosing the perfect times to get out on the water. If you pick the wrong conditions, your chances of success go way down.
Depending on the water clarity of the lake you’re fishing on, you may favor either a new moon or a full moon. If the water is crystal clear, fishing during a newer moon, or during mildly stormy or overcast weather are likely to be peak fishing conditions.
If the water isn’t as clear, you probably want to get out there closer to a full moon and on cloudless nights. You’ll need all the moonlight you can get to cut through the murk and give the bass some visibility for hunting.
And if you’re fishing during the spring or autumn months, make sure you pick a day on which the water temperature stays warm enough at night. If the weather is dropping much below 60 degrees at night, you’ll find that the fish will be more active during the day and more dormant at night.
10. Consider Using a Blacklight
Casting at night can sometimes be tough. You may struggle to even see where your line is ending up, which makes angling tough in a number of different ways.
One cool trick that I use for night time bass fishing is pairing a mono or fluorocarbon line with a blacklight.
The blacklight doesn’t bother the bass, as they don’t detect it as a distracting light source. But it lights up the fishing line as though it glows in the dark. This lets you see exactly where you’ve casted and where your line currently is located.
You can find blacklights that will illuminate the entire surrounding area in a way that doesn’t disturb the fish but gives you visibility in casting and retrieving as though it were daytime.
Like with any kind of fishing – or just about any activity, really – the best way to improve at night fishing for largemouth is to get out there and practice.
Every body of water is slightly different, and you’ll probably find that certain techniques work better or worse for you as you experiment.
But the above tips and tricks should give you a solid foundation for going after big largemouth bass at night. Keep them in mind, and you’ll have a new way of hooking up with largemouth when many people are fast asleep.
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