Night Time Bass Fishing
by Andy Allen
Every thump on the end of your line runs all the way down the rod and right through you. Senses are heightened in the darkness. When you set the hook, the rod loads and the excitement unfolds before you as you are quickly brought into heavy cover. Are these fish bigger, or do they just feel bigger in this amplified state? The answer would have to be yes to both, as bigger bass do most of their feeding throughout the night eat at night.
If you are looking to bring some variety into your regular fishing regiment, consider when you fish rather than where. Try fishing one of your favorite spots after the sun has set. It takes on a whole new feel no matter how familiar you are with an area.
Most of SoCal’s bays and harbors have twenty-four hour access. Just make sure that there are no parking limitations implemented to deter camping. Another word of advise would be to park in a well lit area and leave nothing of value in your vehicle, you don’t want a serene fishing session marred by lowly thieves.
How you approach fishing these black waters is very much just as you do in the daylight hours. Tidal flow is every bit as important and can dictate when the fish bite or not. My favorite nighttime method is the standard lead head and swim bait on eight-pound line. Swim baits from three inches to five. I have yet to find a color that out fishes others, but some of the ones with the glow-in-the-dark sections, do raise my confidence.
These night prowlers are as much scavengers as they are hunters. Scent attractants will increase your catching. Slow rolling scented bait represents an easy meal for these fat bellied opportunists. My current favorite scent is derived from sea urchins; it is called Uni-butter and entices and holds onto plastics very well. Another long time favorite is Hot Sauce. Fish are not only drawn into provide more strikes, but also are less likely to drop you bait once they grab it.
When fishing weed beds at night I have found great success fishing worms and grubs weedless. Texas rigging with the weight up to the hook is my preference. Carolina rigging with the weight stopping at a swivel above the leader is another option. The standard worm hook is used and the hook point is inserted into the plastic to make it slide through the thickest of cover. Slowly dragging it through or twitching it up and over the tops of the grass will provoke an ambush. Fishing with this setup I have learned from experience to be ready to swing hard or fish will be missed. You need to get the hook through the plastic and into the side of their mouth up to the barb in one fell swoop or they will be just a thump and then gone.
All of the structures that you are drawn to during the day are worth trying at night. Rocks, weed beds, docks and moorings. If any of these are provided with a light source to draw in bait, adjacent to shadowed darkness, you will likely find an ideal ambush point. This is also the right place to give your top water lures a chance as bass will dart into the thick bait schools with abandon and an open mouth.
Your arsenal of rods, reels, line size and lures consists of your daily standards. The biggest addition to your gear is safety related. Being seen is not only a Coast Guard regulation, but also the smart thing. You may encounter extremely tired boaters coming in from an all day offshore run. Make it easy for them to see you from well off and they are more likely to give you plenty of room. An all-around 360-degree white light is the required lighting visible at three miles. Red and green bow lights can be mounted with twelve volt or alkaline batteries to power. A headlamp will also help you be seen as well as providing focused light to tie a knot or release a fish with ease.
Wearing your personal floatation device (PFD) at all times on the water makes perfect sense and especially at night when the unexpected could happen quickly. Find the right life jacket that is comfortable to wear and perhaps readily provides you access with some of your needed tools, such as cutters, dikes, radio, a clip on whistle, and pockets for scents and plastics. This way this potentially life saving devise will become an asset to be worn always and not seen as something cumbersome and unwanted.
Being out on the water at night provides at the very least a relaxing end to your day. The calm amidst a busy city is an enjoyable perspective. The backdrop of the city’s skyline or all the surrounding city lights alone or better yet with a friend or two to share it with is food for the soul. Patience and persistence will often dictate success, as the bite can turn on and off like a switch. Your willingness to keep trying one more cast may provide you with that window of “a fish a cast” and that shot at your personal best.