Who Needs Sleep?

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.

I take a lot of pride in my fishing, and I especially take pride in my night fishing. It's an acquired skill and one I look at very seriously. That's why this week and for the next two weeks I'm going to discuss night fishing, night fishing and night fishing.

First we're going to talk about why night fishing is a good idea and what gear you need to get in on the action. Next week we'll cover the on-the-water basics. Then, in two weeks, I'm going to tell you some of the finer points that will help you really turn the corner with your night fishing.

Let's get started.

If you fish the usual types of smallmouth waters, summer might seem like your enemy. Your waters are probably deep and clear, and by early June there are more Jet Skiers and water-skiers on the water than you can shake a GLoomis at. If the heat weren't enough to keep the bass from eating, all the surface traffic would do it.

Well, if that's your problem, night fishing just might be your solution. Once the sun goes down, the traffic is usually off the water, the temperature drops enough to make things almost comfortable, and the bass will finally start to feed more. It's like being on a completely different body of water!

On the other hand, if you primarily fish waters that are dingy or muddy and that get little traffic, you can probably catch those bass during the heat of the day. But if you're like most of us, you'll need to trade a little sleep for more smallies.

Gearing up for after-dark bass action isn't tough, and it doesn't require a whole lot of specialized gear, but there are some tools that I don't want to be without once the sun goes down. Let's cover them one by one.

  • Life jackets — Good, comfortable PFDs are indispensable at night since you should be wearing them every minute you're on the water. What you can't see in the dark can definitely hurt you. Wear your life jacket!
  • Lights — Make sure your boat's running lights are functioning properly and keep them on all night long. You'll also want a Q-Beam-style handheld light to scan the water or banks when it comes time to get your boat back on the trailer or when you need to see out on the water. Finally, you want to have some flashlights in the boat for tying knots, unhooking fish and stuff like that. I like the kind that you can clip to your cap ... or that come as part of the cap itself. Check out  PantherVision.com.
  • Facemask — After taking a couple of birds to the face in the past few years, I've decided that I won't get out on the water at night without something to protect my face and head. You don't want anything that will obstruct your vision or hearing, but you need something that will guard your face.
  • Black light — Since much of my night fishing involves baits like jigs and craws where you often see the bite rather than feel it, I don't go out at night without a good black light. My favorite is the Punisher Castglo, but that may be because I designed and manufacture it (PunisherLures.com). You need something sturdy that will help you see your line.

When you're on the water at night, less is more. Instead of six or 10 rods lying on my deck, I want no more than three. Anything more than that is just a problem waiting to happen. They're going to get tangled, you could kick one overboard or they're just generally going to get in your way.

But it's not just rods that you want to cut back on. It's everything. You don't want any unnecessary gear in your boat at night — no extra tackle, no extra snacks and absolutely no extra drink bottles. During the day you can see those things. At night you might step on one and find yourself falling right out of the boat!

Next week we'll go over the fishing gear and methods that will put big smallmouths in your boat even on the hottest days of the year.

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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