There are many benefits to night fishing for bass, especially during the summer months. Warm waters in evening hours make fish sluggish, so they are less skittish and more inclined to take your bait! Another great advantage to fishing at night is you usually have the water all to yourself—and after dark in high-summer is often the only time that is possible. While fishing at night may seem intimidating for those who haven’t done it before, it’s actually quite simple and easy to do. Ahead, get expert tips from angler extraordinaire Jerry Audet who shares important safety tips as well as secret tricks for the best success.
Why Go Fishing At Night?
Many fishermen are surprised to know that bass can be caught easily at night, but the truth is that bass really never stop feeding (provided water temperatures are adequate for their metabolism). They may be more or less aggressive based on a variety of factors, but they’re always looking for a meal—especially when the Sun goes down.
Bass have excellent senses that extend beyond vision, and the night actually gives them an ambush advantage, so they are more inclined to do their own fishing in the dark. In fact, even in the daylight, bass don’t rely on their sight as a primary sense. Instead, they detect vibrations and sounds to zero-in on their prey. Sight is reserved for the end of the hunt. They are great nocturnal hunters because they don’t have to see their prey to chase it down.
Safety Is Important
Safety is important—especially if you’re in a kayak or a boat. Make sure you use night fishing lights (called “running lights”), a loud horn or air can in case of an emergency, and a very bright light that you can flash at a boater who may not be paying attention. Fish in waters that you know well so you don’t get lost. (Don’t explore at night. Save that for during the day.). Also, always go out with a fishing buddy. Night fishing is really simple and easy once you get used to it. But if you’re nervous, we suggest fishing from shore first (which is far less complicated).
Any Special Gear?
No special gear is needed to fish at night, except a headlamp. Don’t use it while you’re fishing, only when you need to change a lure, tie a knot, or release a fish. Try to keep the light off the water, as it can spook fish. I like using a red headlight for this reason. Plus, it helps preserve your night vision. (White lights are blinding.)
How About Lures And Bait?
As far as lures go, many anglers think a glowing lure is important, so the bass can see it. But this simply isn’t true and may actually be a deterrent as it looks unnatural. Color matters a lot less at night, as the bass track your lures by sound and vibration.
Fish actually have an easier time seeing a dark colored lure at night, as the contrast with dark water or sky is easier for them to detect. The best nighttime colors vary based on what you are doing, how dark the night is, and how deep your lure is in the water. The higher up in the water column, the lighter your lure’s belly should be. This simulates nature.
Most fish and frogs have white bellies and bass are most likely looking up at the lure from beneath it. If you’re mid-column or down deep, use a dark green, black, or purple lure. However if you’re just starting out at night, white is a perfectly fine color. It’s easier for you to see and work with (in and out of the water), and it will catch bass the vast majority of the time (day and night).
At night, use lures that ride high in the water. Fish will slide into the shallows after dark looking for food (because they’re less afraid of being spotted by predators) and working those skinny waters means you are more likely to get a snag.
Using a lure that stays near the surface really helps prevent this. Something that throws a wake on the surface really draws the fish’s attention after dark. Some of the best night fishing lures include wake baits and slow-sink weightless soft-plastics (usually jerk-bait style), but subtle poppers, walk-the-dog lures, and shallow-running crank baits all work great. However, chances are that your favorite day-time lure will work great at night too. It’s just up to you to give it a shot!
Good luck night fishing!
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Jerry Audet is a writer, photographer, and lifelong outdoorsman currently residing in Massachusetts. He is well known in the angling world for his dedication to shore-based striped bass fishing and back-country trout and bass fishing. Jerry is the managing editor of Surfcasters Journal. He also writes for Anglers Journal, Field and Stream, and Strung.