Go to the dark side (for summer lunkers)

Bill Dance: B.A.S.S. Member since 1968

Temperatures in mid to late summer have waters in most regions of the country boiling. Such times are hard on the fish and the fisherman.

But fry ... er ... fear not, you can escape the heat. For comfort alone you ought to give night fishing a try, but other reasons include the fact that it's a unique experience, it makes you become more attuned as an angler, the water is certainly less crowded and, of course, there is that benefit of fish feeding more at this time during summer.

The metabolic rates of bass change during the months of extreme heat, and the bottom line is it is more comfortable for them to feed at night because they expend less energy. The fishing pressure and boat traffic in general is also greatly reduced on summer nights, and I believe bass become less cautious and more apt to strike at night. After all, the phrase is "cover of darkness," right? Low light serves as cover for predators like bass.

Other tips and points of interest to put in your night fishing file include:

1. My favorite night baits typically include slow presentation lures like plastic worms, jigs with plastic trailers, single-bladed spinnerbaits, some buzzbaits and the old classic standby, the Jitterbug. Dark colors are preferred.

2. Whatever your choice of weapon/lure, consider making your retrieve slow and steady. Where in daylight hours an erratic, stop-and-go retrieve is often favored, at night I think the slow, steady retrieve works best. I believe it helps fish better locate their target.

3. Water clarity is the most important consideration when night fishing. Fishing clear water with a visibility of at least two to four feet is a big deal when it comes to improving your success. Night is not the time to fish muddy or off-colored water.

4. Get the real estate mindset that location is important. Fish targets that are close to deep water, be it bridge pilings, points, stumps, boat docks. If there is a transition area (to deeper water) near your targets, your odds of getting bit increase.

5. Safety is always a big deal and even more so in the dark. Have your PFDs; know the weather reports; use appropriate lights, etc. And "know before you go" certainly applies. Any "exploring" should be done in daylight not during a night fishing trip. Being organized and having a clear deck is a plus (everything in its place and there's a place for everything). Eliminate the stumble factor.

What are my thoughts on the moon? I think it definitely has an influence on your success. Certainly the arguments over fishing a new or full moon are ongoing. On a full moon, you can certainly see things better (amazingly so), and that's a plus. Note, when there is a full moon, I will still cast to "shaded" areas for strikes. But if pressed to choose between full or dark/new moon, I lean toward the latter. Lunar studies have shown better catches of big fish on the new moon. And, either way, I believe the three days leading up to, and the three days following either the new or full moon are great times to fish.

All this said, I hope you are sold on night-fishing for bass, and Star Wars fan or not, give the "dark side" (of fishing ) a try this summer.

For more words of wit and wisdom from one of our sport's greatest legends, check out www.billdanceoutdoors.com.

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