If you are the squeamish-type and afraid of
things that go bump in the night, then you are missing out on one
of the most exciting ways to catch bass, especially during the
hot months of the year.
Nighttime bass fishing is nothing new. It
dates back to the early days of artificial lures, although it
wasn't very popular then, and it gained in popularity in the
1960s with the advent of the bass boat.
Today's night bassers' use mainly plastic
worms or lizards and spinnerbaits, but old timers will tell you
that if you want the ultimate experience in nighttime bass
fishing, you must try topwater fishing.
Having a bass blow up on your topwater lure
is, indeed, a thrilling experience at anytime, but it is
especially spine-tingling when it happens at night when you can
hear your lure working and hear the explosion of the strike, but
can't see a thing.
Modern-day anglers have set some standards for
night fishing, so much so that many of them have become too set
in their ways to try anything different. Actually, the arsenal
you use at night is no different than what you might use during
the day. That's because bass prowl the same waters day or night,
and the so-called best lure to use depends upon the type of water
you are fishing.
At Lake Bryson recently, I used an old hat
trick to catch six bass within about an hour and a half - a black
Jitterbug. Although the lure is still manufactured by Arbogast,
newer lures have grabbed the at-tention of many of today's
anglers who keep wobbling-type ar-tificial lures like the
Jitterbug isolated from much of the action. If you question that,
just take a look at five of your buddies' tackle boxes and count
the number of Jitterbugs you see.
Lake Bryson, for those of you who have never
heard of it, is a small lake of about 700 acres located between
Jacksboro and Graham near the small town of Bryson. It is a
rocky-lined, clear lake full of coontail moss and timber. There
is only one small ramp on the lake. It's virtually a small piece
of concrete behind a heavily rutted, steep-sloped bank that makes
launching a modern bass boat difficult unless you have a
four-wheeled drive vehicle. Nevertheless, the lake has a good
population of bass, and because of its extremely clear waters, I
think the best time to fish it is at night.
The Jitterbug is one of my favorites for night
bass fishing because it causes such a ruckus and can be stopped
periodically beside a stump or over submerged bass, an action
that often draws a response from even the most timid largemouth.
The first bass to hit the Jitterbug that night
was a three-pounder that clobbered the lure in a small pocket no
more than 20 yards from the ramp. It came on my third cast and
helped set the stage for the kind of action I would have on a
time-limited fishing trip. The other bass I caught that night
were mostly two- to three-pounders, with a five-pounder the
largest. Those are what many call nice-sized fish, but they don't
compare to the really big fish Bryson has produced over the past
few years by the handful of anglers who venture there regularly.
There are many lakes in Texas where night
fishing has become even more popular, and most of them are much
larger than Bryson. Lake Fork, for example, produces many big
fish annually to night anglers. Toledo Bend, Sam Rayburn, Amistad
and O.H. Ivie are others noted for their dark-of-the-night
At Fork where Joe Axton of Axton's Bass City
holds several night bass tournaments each summer and enjoys night
fishing himself, plastic worms rigged Carolina-style and
spinnerbaits appear to the most often-used lures, but at Amistad,
topwaters play a key role in many catches. Toledo Bend and
Rayburn produce many bass at night on both Texas- and
Carolina-rigged worms and lizards as well as spinnerbaits, but
they can provide some thrilling experiences on topwaters, too,
especially in the backs of the creeks and coves.
Summertime is by far the most popular time of
the year for this kind of fishing. And there are several reasons
why. For one, bass can be caught fairly regularly in both deep
and shallow water during the hot weather months. Secondly, the
temperatures are much cooler at night than they are during the
day, and thirdly, it provides a great escape from the daytime
crowds. A full moon isn't a must for night fishing, but it helps.
For one thing, bass tend to feed more during a bright moon than
they do when there is no or little moon. Also, any moonlight at
all will help you make out timber, boat docks and other objects
when you are making a cast.
If you have never tried fishing for bass at
night but plan to do so soon, there are several precautions you
should take before setting out.
First, if you are used to not getting onto the
water until after daybreak, you will want to make sure your
running lights are working properly. They are required by law, of
course, but little-used running lights tend to suddenly not work
for one reason or another - a blown fuse, a broken bulb,
corrosion build-up on the terminals, for examples.
Make a checklist of things you will need. Take
two flashlights (yes, two, because if one doesn't work you will
have a backup). You'll need a pair of needle-nose pliers (you
won't be able to watch your line and there always is a chance of
letting a bass have the worm too long and hooking it deep), and
plenty of insect repellant (fishing shallows near flooded weeds
can attract mosquitoes to you).
The choice of lures should depend upon the
type of water you expect to fish. Clear-water lakes can produce
some fantastic topwater action whereas a plastic worm or
spinnerbait may be best for a murky lake.
Lakes with docks that are lighted are good
bets on any type of lake, and you might even be able to catch
some fish on a suspended crankbait fished around them. The color
you choose for your lure is a personal choice the same as it
often is during the daytime, but most experienced night fishermen
will tell you to go with something dark like black or blue, for
instance. That's because they figure that a dark-colored lure can
be more easily sky-lighted and that makes it easier for the bass
to actually see the lure rather than just feel its vibrations
through its lateral lines.
Jim Brown of Mansfield believes in
dark-colored lures so much that he began painting the blades of
his black-skirted spinnerbaits black years ago.
Many lakes, and even stock tanks, can provide
great night action. My preference for this kind of fishing is
clear water with some type of aquatic vegetation such as coontail
moss, hydrilla, etc. in relatively shallow water, such as a creek
I've caught my share of deep-water bass on
plastic worms. But I have found that unless you are fishing a new
lake where the bass are so heavily populated that they often hold
in schools around structure, there is better success in searching
for bass that are actively hunting for food in the shallows.
Another reason I like shallow-water fishing is
because I got spoiled to the thrills that come from topwater
fishing when you can barely see your lure on the surface or can't
see it at all. And, besides, if you favor fishing a plastic worm,
you might be surprised how many bass you can catch on it in the
Using rattles also is a plus for night
fishing. Just as the vibrations of a spinnerbait will attract
bass, a rattle inside a plastic worm or on a spinnerbait or
crankbait could be just the ticket to drawing a strike.
If you decide to give it a try, remember to
observe all safe-boating rules. Ask a partner to go along with
you. Make sure someone at home knows where you will be fishing
and at what time to expect your return, and make sure your
running lights are working. If you use a spotlight to see your
way to and from your fishing areas, remember that there may be
other anglers on the lake, too, and avoid shining your spotlight
on them, as well as on shorelines which are being used by
campers. Launch your boat as close as possible to the area you
plan to fish so you won't have a long boat run, and always check
the weather before heading out into the darkness.