It’s hotter than the devil — too hot to fish during the day — but I still have to fish. It's in my blood. There’s no way I’m going to wait until fall to fight a big smallie, so I’ve been fishing after dark. It’s not as tough as you might think ... if you keep a few basic things in mind.
1. Think cool water. Fish want to eat in a cool place. That means deeper water, regardless of what deep measures in your local lake or river, even after dark. The top foot or so of water might cool a couple of degrees when the sun goes down, but not enough to make a difference. Stay deep.
2. Think ambush. Smallmouth bass are predators. They like to hide and strike their prey from safety. Think about where you’re fishing from the fish’s point of view. Does it offer the fish a place to hide and ambush something to eat?
If you’re looking for crawfish eaters that tend to prowl the shoreline (but still deep), think about small, jagged points or maybe big stumps along a break. If you’re out in deeper water, think about weedlines and old river channels. Smallies can hide in the thick weeds and ambush minnows in the thinner stuff, or they can attack from along the channel.
3. Think moon phase. The moon has a tremendous impact on nighttime fish activity. Think about it as you select your spots and your lures.
Under a full moon the fish will move around more, and they tend to suspend. Spinnerbaits are good lures at this time. My preference is a heavy, single Colorado blade model. If there’s a lot of moonlight, I go with a lighter color. And, remember that smallies are very light sensitive. Always fish the shady side, even at night.
When the moon is new, you need to think more about heavy cover. If your lake has a lot of weed growth, that’s the obvious place to start. If not, go with whatever is the thickest cover you can find. Fish with black baits — a jig and plastic trailer — or with dark browns, purples and deep greens.
4. Think slow. I know you think you’re fishing slowly, but I can almost guarantee you’re fishing too fast. Most guys have no idea what’s happening with their lure when they crank the reel handle or move their rod tip.
To get a sense of what’s going on, make a few casts in a swimming pool. You’ll be amazed at what happens to a spinnerbait when you think you’re cranking slow or what your jig looks like when you bounce your rod tip around.
Don’t let the summer sun get you down. Take a nap, then go fishing.