Smallmouth bass and the moon: Part 2

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 told you that fishing the dark or shady side of things, even during the night, would get you the most bites. This week I want to give you my theory on why. I’m guessing you’ve never heard it before.

Let me start by saying that it isn’t because the smallmouth are sensitive to the moonlight. I don’t believe that for a minute even though a lot of guys will try to tell you that. There’s just not that much light out there, no matter how bright the moon is or how clear the water is. I think it’s all about the forage.

Most of our good smallmouth lakes are old. There’s very little cover left in them other than weeds. Out of necessity the baitfish are adapting to that. Let’s face it, it’s not like they can move somewhere else. They seek the safety of darkness. The shady side of a point or laydown is better than nothing.

That makes perfect sense if you stop to think about it for a minute. Darkness hides everything, and even what can be seen isn’t very clear. They have a better chance of survival, and that’s the biggest part of their life other than reproducing.

The light difference may not look like much to us humans but I think it’s huge to the fish. The baitfish swim into the dark and the smallmouth follow them to feed. Everything feels safer in the dark, and the smallies think they have a better chance of catching dinner when hunting in the dark. It’s really pretty simple.

My daytime experiences support that theory. You can run all over a lake during the day in the summertime and not see any forage at all. It’s like the lake is totally dead. I have no idea where they go or where they hide out but I can tell you I’d give more than a dollar to find out.

But, come night, things change. At dusk, you start to see flashes on your electronics, and they get stronger and more numerous as the daylight gets weaker. Run around the shady side of a cut, slough or canyon after midnight and your screen will look like a Christmas tree. The forage is everywhere.

The moon may affect this thing in other ways, too. Most of the forage spawns repeatedly over the summer, and most of those spawns have something to do with a full moon. It stands to reason that there’s more forage during a full moon. It hasn’t been eaten or died from some other cause. I don’t know enough about that to go much further. I’m working on it, though.

Finally, it seems to me that all of what I’ve been talking about is more pronounced in clear water situations than it is in murky situations. That also makes perfect sense if you stop to think about it.

Next week, we’ll talk about how the moon phase affects your choice of baits and their color.

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