Dark thoughts, part 2

Stephen Headrick

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

Last week I covered a bunch of reasons why you should target smallmouth after dark. This time, I want to give you a few of my favorite tips for making the most of your night-fishing experience. After all, if you're going to lose sleep, you might as well catch a bunch of big brown fish.

1. Get organized

If you're like me, you could stand a little more organization in your life. You probably have a pretty good idea where everything is in your boat, but it definitely helps to be looking for it in the broad light of day. With the lights off, you might not be able to find it.

That's not good enough when you're out night fishing. It's critical that you know where everything is so you find it rather than trip over it or get stuck by it. It applies to tackle, obviously, but it also applies to everything else in the boat, from line clippers to water bottles.

I mention water bottles specifically because few things are more dangerous on the deck of a boat when you can't see well. Step on a capped water bottle and you could easily roll on it and find yourself taking a swim.

2. Bulk up ... a little

Because the fish can't see as well at night, you can get away with heavier equipment, especially line. But don't go crazy here. Just because the sun's down doesn't mean you should pull out the 25-pound-test monofilament.

A good rule of thumb is that you can bump up your line size by 50 percent. That will give you a little more room for error but still not destroy the action of your lures. So, if you've been using 8-pound test, you can probably scale up to 12-pound test after dark without hurting your fishing.

3. Fish the shade, even at night

Smallmouth are light sensitive. During the day, I always fish the shade. At night, it's the same thing. Bass are ambush predators, and the way an ambush predator feeds is by positioning itself in the dark and looking out into the light.

Well, light and dark are relative. Whether you're out on the water at noon or at midnight, there are light areas and dark areas. Fish them accordingly.

4. Get equipped for the job

Some accessories will make your night fishing much more enjoyable. One is a light to clip on the bill of your fishing cap. It comes in handy when you need to tie a knot or unhook a fish. Rather than the traditional white light of a flashlight, though, you want to use a green or red filter over the white light so you won't destroy your night vision.

Another night fishing tool I love is one that I designed and sell. It's the Punisher Castglo L.E.D. Fishing Light. If you've ever used black lights for night fishing, you'll love this one. It's much brighter and much easier to use than any other black light on the market. You can find it here.

5. Carry a net

You're fishing for big bass, right? The fish you catch have hooks in their mouths, right? Those are two good reasons to carry a nice, big net when you're fishing after dark. It's a lot tougher to lip a bass when you can't see it very well, and one mistake could cost you a lot of pain and blood. Spare yourself — carry a net and use it.

If you'll follow these few tips, I guarantee you'll have a better night-fishing experience the next time you're out chasing brown bass after dark.

Until next time, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me atStephen@thesmallmouthguru.com.

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