Nighttime bass fishing can be extremely productive if you choose the best lure presentations and locations. Use these techniques to catch more bass under the cover of darkness.
Night fishing offers offer undeniable advantages to bass anglers during the summer – among them more comfortable conditions and less competition from other anglers. Most importantly, bass feed heavily after hours this time of year, so you can enjoy excellent fish-catching action if you’re up for fishing at night.
That said, the bass’ daytime and nighttime locations and behavior differ, so it’s important to adjust your approaches for night fishing. These three strategies are time-tested and proven for catching largemouth and smallmouth bass at night.
Gurgle The Surface
We’ll begin with an old faithful technique that continues to provide great summer fishing and produces unparalleled excitement on a calm night. Casting repeatedly into the darkness and gurgling a plug along the surface can nearly lull you to sleep, but it’ll about scare you out of the boat when a bass suddenly attacks.
Various surface lures can be used for this technique, but arguably none is better than a classic Arbogast Jitterbug, which creates a big gurgle and pushes out a wake as it wobble rhythmically across the surface. The larger Jitterbug models, both sold and jointed, allow for the long casts that are best for this approach and send out the most sound. Many diehard night Jitterbuggers insist on the 4 1/2-inch Jitterbug XL.
Steady is the name of the game for this technique. Fish often come from afar and zero in on the lure as it does its surface wobble. Because bass do follow lures and are often widespread on flats and atop humps, it’s important to work a lure all the way back and to remain ready.
One critical note for this style of fishing: No matter how vicious a strike sounds, don’t set the hook unless you FEEL the fish surge. Bass commonly miss topwater lures at night, and you don’t want to set the hook empty and have a lure and multiple treble hooks rocketing back toward you in the dark! Plus, a fish that misses often will hit again – less violently but more efficiently.
Bump the Bottom
While calling bass to the top is thrilling and tough to top on calm nights when the bass are cruising shallow flats, going down after them will produce positive results more frequently and in a broader range of situations. Often, that means bumping or dragging the bottom slowly and methodically with a jig or a Texas-rigged soft-plastic lure – typically in a dark color.
A Texas rig allows you to work cover that’s atop a structure, such as a brushpile sitting on the high part of a hump. A classic Ribbontail Worm is extra good for the approach, with bass often thumping the bait right after it crawls over a branch and drops to the bottom with a wavering tail.
A football jig is ideal for dragging down points or over the tops of flat-topped roadbeds or big humps. A flipping jig or a Texas rigged Christie Critter works better for targeting tighter spots, often along the bank.
Key areas for bottom bumping and dragging at night offer shallow feeding zones that are close to notably deeper water, often near the main river channel or the lower end of a major creek channel. Good examples include a point that extends out to the channel, a hump that the channel wraps around or a 45-degree, craggy rock bank that’s adjacent to the river channel.
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