Big Bass Wait Out the Summer Sun, Feeding at Night Instead
(Nighttime Bassing is Part 2 of the Nighttime Fishing Series)
By Terry Otto
The night was so dark I was fishing by ear, and when the big bass exploded on my black Arbogast Jitterbug I almost jumped out of my skin. The rod came alive in my hand, and the big fish tried desperately to bury himself in the weeds. After tiring, the chunky 5-pound bucketmouth let me hold him gently for a bit before releasing him.
The Jitterbug is a great lure for nighttime bassing. The noisy plug will pull bass up to the surface, and the vibrations help the fish home in on the bait, all while allowing me to hear exactly what’s happening. The black color also shows the bait’s profile well against the night sky.
Bass fishing at night can be a challenge when it’s extremely dark, but it’s an exciting summer pastime, and it’s an effective way to catch big bass. When the
sun heats the water during the dog days of summer, many bass turn nocturnal, resting in the cool depths by day and moving shallow at night to feed.
If you aren’t spending a few summer nights bassing, you are missing out on one of bass fishing’s biggest pleasures. And, you’re not catching as many bass as you could be. It’s a lesson I learned young, when my teenage friends and I caught chunky largemouths off a popular swimming beach at night. Swimmers crowded the shallows all day, stirring up the sand and dislodging food. At night the bathers left, and the bass moved in to feed. They were suckers for soft plastics.
Best Nighttime Baits
Tournament angler and Duo International bait designer David Swendsied loves to target bass at night, and he says there are plenty of good nighttime baits to choose from. “My favorites are buzz baits, big spinners with Colorado blades, and poppers,” he says. “Swimbaits are also effective.” There are a number of Duo Realis swimbaits that Swendsied likes to throw at night. He says the bigger baits, in particular, really seem to get the attention of both largemouth and smallmouth.
He refers to buzz baits as a “big bass bait.” Lunkers seem to really go for that surface spinner. He also likes small poppers that he can work as a finesse bait in pockets of weeds. The Realis Popper 64 fits that ticket perfectly.
Swendsied has found that big bass will often hit poppers from the side and miss the hooks. He now prefers to switch out the popper’s treble hooks and replace it with a large single hook, which increases hook-ups.
Clear Lakes Best for Nighttime Bass
When night fishing for bass Swendsied looks for lakes with clear water, healthy vegetation, and rocky bottoms. Lakes or rivers with stained or dirty water do not fish as well at night. River locations with strong current are also poor choices for nighttime bassing.
Look to rocky flats and main lake points, drop-offs, and humps for summer night bass. They will also move out to the edge of weed beds at night.
Night Fishing Safety
Fishing at night comes with extra hazards, especially when boating in the dark. A good running spot-light is necessary, as is some familiarity with the waters you are targeting. Always fish a lake or river in daylight before trying to navigate it in the dark. And don’t forget to pack along a few black jitterbugs!