By The Light Of The Moon
By Justin Hoffman
Working the nightshift in search of big
bucketmouths can be a profitable and exciting endeavour for those anglers
looking for a new twist in the bassin' game.
under the moon comes with its own set of rules and techniques because once
the sun sets, you really are smack down in the middle of the largemouth's
playing field. Come and explore the graveyard shift and discover all the
action that you've been missing.
Beginning The Search
Night fishing for bass is similar to the daytime version, with a few
variations thrown into the mix. Working predominantly shallow sections of
water -- depths between 2 feet and 10 feet -- seem to be the most
Fish will be actively feeding during the
witching hour, and will be in an aggressive and upwardly mobile mood. I
like to choose a number of shallow shoreline areas and flats that produce
well during the early morning periods and rely on these once the sun goes
The shift in light exposure will result in
the bass gradually moving shallower in their quest for baitfish and
crawdads. Areas to fish to keep in mind would be sandy beaches, shorelines
with a mixture of "lead-in" cover, dock and marina locations as well as
flats with large expanses of open areas. Pick a handful of these spots
during the day and try to learn as much about them before the light switch
is turned off. Make special note of any dangerously shallow areas or
sunken logs in order to stay clear once nighttime hits. Orientating
yourself with these areas during the day will enable you to fish them more
thoroughly and have a better understanding of them come dark.
Keeping the boat "clutter-free" will make
your night fishing experience more enjoyable. Have your pliers and net in
an out-of-the-way, but easy to reach place.
Sorting Out The Baits
The one thing that makes night fishing relatively easy is the
simplification of baits that you'll be using. There is no need for
gigantic tackle boxes brimming with every lure under the sun, or moon for
that matter. Two or three topwater baits, a big spinnerbait and a flipping
jig will normally take care of every situation you'll encounter.
Topwater baits are my No. 1 choice for
fishing at night due to the adrenaline rush you get when fishing these
lures. Listening to the sputtering and splashing of your bait working
along the surface, only to be shattered by the large crash of a fish can
be positively heart stopping!
One of the better topwaters to choose for
nighttime would be the buzzbait. A buzzbait provides a large silhouette
and steady cadence for a bass to hone in upon, is simple to work without
visually seeing it, and is relatively weedless. This makes it an easy bait
to throw all night, as well as a productive one in the eyes of a bass. Go
with a large model with big metal blades and a black skirt for bass to
easily see against the backdrop of the lighter sky.
Another great night bait is the spinnerbait.
This lure produces strong vibrations in the water, has a large profile,
and mimics the prey that the largemouth are chasing and feeding upon. I go
with large Colorado blades for added sound and a black skirt for
visibility. A 1/2-ounce weight all the way up to a l-ounce bait will be
the ticket for more bites. When faced with deeper water, or if the bass
are less than active, a productive lure to throw has to be the jig and
pig. A heavy jig with an oversized chunk of pork or plastic will do the
trick nicely along weedlines and sand areas.
A methodical lift and drop,
while paying close attention to any "ticks" or weightlessness, is the best
technique to incorporate. It also can be a valuable "follow-up" lure to
throw to fish that strike short on topwater baits. Reel in your surface
bait fast, throw a jig and pig in the general area of the strike, and get
ready to hold on to your rod.
While it goes without saying that daytime fishing is a visual game for the
most part, once the lights go out, your hearing and sense of feel become
your greatest assets. Listening for topwater hits and interpreting strikes
or fouled hooks becomes paramount during this time. Anticipating the next
strike and staying on your toes will be keys to catching more and bigger
Big spinnerbaits are an ideal ticket
for bass during the night. The loud vibrations, large silhouette and
fast-moving pace make it a great choice to throw. One key for catching
more fish is setting the hook when you feel the weight of the fish -- not
when you hear the striking splash. This can be tough to do, but believe me
it will pay off with a whole lot more fish.
Safety is an issue when venturing out
in the dark, and there are a few simple rules that will make your trip
more pleasurable and safe. Take a variety of lights out on your boat,
including a hand-held search beam, a headlamp and lantern. Lights aren't
necessary when you are fishing, but it is a good idea to turn one on when
you're in the process of fighting and landing a fish. I find that a
headlamp works great in that it shines in the direction you are looking.
Also, make sure your boats running lights are working in order for other
boats to see you. Keeping the interior of the boat neat and tidy is
paramount for a fun night out. Keep your rods up and out of the way, and
the landing net and pliers in an easy to find spot. The less clutter in
the boat, the less chance of accidents occurring.
Keeping a life jacket on while fishing
is a good idea for added safety. Falling out of the boat always is a scary
situation, but it can be downright terrifying at night. Please be safe out
there. Bass fishing at night is a new route to take for anglers looking
for a different dimension to their fishing. What's better than having the
lake to yourself while experiencing heart-pounding strikes under the light
of the moon? To be honest, I can't think of anything!
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