July 14, 2008

Nighttime: Is the Right Time for Summer Largemouths



Daily Record Outdoor Editor

Nighttime, is the right time.

It's not Texas, or Florida, where the daytime sun can exact a toll on fish and fishermen alike, but a trick those southern-state anglers use to catch summertime bass is just as effective north of the Mason Dixon line as it is south of it -- nighttime fishing for bass.

When water temperatures rise (79 degrees this week at Nimisila Reservoir), switching to nighttime bassing is something you may want to consider.

Telemetry studies have shown that largemouth bass concentrate as much as 90 percent of their activity during nighttime hours when the water temperature is above 70 degrees.

Active bass can be caught in a variety of ways after dark, whether you enjoy pulling them out of heavy cover with a jig-and- pig or a 10-inch worm rigged weedless, or coaxing them to explode on a top-water buzz bait, the long-time favorite Arbogast jitterbug, or the standard spinner bait, nighttime is indeed the right time.

There are a few basic rules of thumb to follow when fishing at night.

No. 1, make sure you have working running lights on your boat. Along that very same train of thought, make sure you have plenty of light on the boat to help with problems, such as untangling line, getting that hook that's deep down in the bass' mouth out, and basically to just shine on the situation whatever it may be (get weeds off the trolling motor, a lure off a dock support, etc.).

And while the subject is fishing in the dark, light is a key element in the outing. The camp is split on which time of the month is better to night fish, during the light of the full moon, or in the dark of the moon. The majority say it's better fishing the four days prior to and after a full moon than fishing the darkest days of the month.

Also, there are fishermen on both sides of the fence when it comes to fishing with a black light at night. Some say it attracts fish, others say it repels them.

The next rule of thumb is the color on your presentation. Believe it or not, black is best after dark. Some regular nighttime fishermen will even paint the blades on their buzz baits black.

Dark colors cast the best silhouettes in low-light situations. Bass are better suited than humans to see after dark, plus they have other sensory organs that help them zero in on prey, such as their lateral line (feel vibrations) and olfactory organ (smell).

Fish have the tools to attack prey, and hopefully your lure, at night, but anything you can do to help the situation is a bonus. Spraying attractant on you lure, or using lures with rattles, lures that give off vibrations, or make sounds are a plus. Also, a steady retrieve will aid in getting more hookups.

Despite all this knowledge, I didn't use much of it this past week on a night trip to Nimisila. It was a partial moon, I fished a chartreuse spinner bait and had a lantern glowing the whole time.

But, I did catch three nice bass.

Fishing after dark isn't easy. Don't give up after one try. Not being able to see where you're fishing, what's out there, or where you're at is frustrating. Knowing the body of water you are fishing is a plus.

Are you over grass, on the edge of a weed line, at a dock that borders deep water? If you don't have a plan, often you'll find yourself set up with the wrong bait at the wrong time. Trying to toss a jitterbug across grass, a weedless worm in deep water, or a crank bait in shallow water won't be productive.

And having a boat-load of rods rigged for any situation isn't the answer, either. Every little problem is magnified at night. Murphy's law -- if it can go wrong, it will go wrong -- couldn't be more accurate. Trust me, keeping your boat clear of clutter and fishing one or two rods matched for the situation is the way to go.

Over the next month-and-a-half, consider switching your fishing trip to after dark. Go with a plan, fish that plan, and you too may discover that nighttime is the right time ... to catch bass.

Originally published by By ART HOLDEN Daily Record Outdoor Editor.

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