If you’re anything like me, you have fishing on the brain all the time. If you’re anything like me, a job, kids, and other responsibilities will often keep you off the water. For me, the answer is simple. I fish at night. That’s right, night. Under the cover of darkness, after the chores are done and the kids go to bed, I can often be found slipping the boat into my favorite lake.
Night fishing can be a rewarding, yet challenging undertaking. When I first started, I had little knowledge on what would work, when to go, or where. Over the last few years, I’ve become addicted to it. Hearing the explosion as a largemouth bass hits your bait in the middle of the night can be an adrenaline pumping experience. That being said let me share with you some of my favorite tactics and get you into some night fish.
Bass actively feed at night. They key in on sound and vibrations at night and will hit almost any top water lure that makes noise. I use a variety of top water lures from Jitterbugs to giant swim baits. Jitterbugs and other “noise” lures are a sure thing on a Summer night when the bass are active (post spawn). One of my favorite night time lures is the Deps Buzz Jet. This wake/prop/rattle bait brings them in every time! I’ve landed hundreds of fish on these baits. At just over 1 ounce and a little over 4” most rods can handle these as well.
My other night passion is swim baits. If you’re not familiar with the big swim bait craze going on, you’re missing out. Swim baits are not for the faint of heart or a weak rod. They require special gear and are worth every penny you’ll pay. And let me tell you, you’ll pay. Some of these baits can sell for hundreds of dollars. I don’t buy the real expensive ones. A more realistic option for the everyday angler would be a MS Slammer. Reasonably priced and durable, these baits are a great way to get started in swim bait fishing. Mike Shaw, the creator, makes 3 different sizes. A 7”, 9” and 12” model. I use mostly the 7” and 9” on my lake at night. These are great “wake” baits that create a wide disturbance on the surface. Jointed as well, these baits make a clacking noise on the retrieve. A slow and steady retrieve with long pauses are sure to get the big girls to the surface.
Now let’s talk tactics. You’ve made it out, into the night, now what? For me, the process is the same as if it were light out. I move to a few different spots and “test the waters” so to speak. The same structure that hold fish during the day (lay downs, boulders, stumps, etc.) will hold them at night. I start by making a couple of casts with each lure around the area. This will give you a good feel for what’s biting and on which lure. Poppers, Buzz Jets, and swim baits will often receive the most attention. A “rip and pause” technique will often incite a bite, usually on the pause. Hearing the fish hit can be a little nerve wracking and your first instinct will be to set the hook as soon as you hear it. This is something that you’ll need to practice. I will often wait till I feel the fish before setting the hook. I find that sometimes the fish will just take a slap at the bait and not commit. If this happens, wait. Let the bait sit for a few seconds and then give it a little twitch or pop. If a fish is sitting under your bait, this may be all it takes to make her bite.
These are some of the basics of night fishing. Take what you’ve read here today and adjust it for your waters accordingly. If you get out at night and have success, let us know. Let us know what’s worked for you and if you have any tricks or tips that we should try.
Until then, tight lines and keep ripping lips!