Largemouth 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.

Fishing 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 productive.

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 down.

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.

A Different Game
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 fish.

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!

Justin Hoffman is the proprietor of Nature's Eye Images, a photographic stock company that specializes in nature and outdoor themes. Check out his online catalog at :  www.geocities.com/natureseyeimages/stockpage.html


 

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