Elite Series pro Brian Clark of Haltom City, Texas, cut his tournament teeth fishing nights on Eagle Mountain Lake. He still fishes these events when he can, sometimes several nights a week. He's found that night fishing is easily over-thought and sticks to three tactics that catch the lion's share of his p.m. bass.
Fishing at night offers a different perspective of the sport. You get out of the heat of the day, avoid boat traffic and — this time of year — you get the bass at their hungriest.
"Summer is without a doubt the best time to fish at night, and April to mid-October is the best time to do it," he says. "The water is like the woods in the summer, at night the deer become active and feed. It's the same with the bass. The best fishing is typically between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m."
Clark says the best places to fish at night are lighted docks and rocky areas, such as a dam or jetty in a marina.
"Docks that have lights around them are an obvious choice, but what may not be so obvious are rocky areas," he said. "Another thing I've learned in my years fishing at night is to stay away from windy banks. Even if I know I can catch 'em good during the day on a windy side of the lake, I don't even bother with it at night."
Clark says when the wind is blowing during his night tournaments, the weights go down. He reasons that the baits are hard for the bass to see at night even when it's calm, and wind simply compounds the problem.
The best docks are those on main lake points, Clark says. The bass pull up to them at night because of the obvious ambush areas they offer. A dock that is not productive during the day may fire up at night.
"There are docks I have only gotten a 1-pounder off during the day, but at night I can pull several good fish off the same one," he says.
Hold the topwaters
Clark strays from the traditional night fishing baits like buzzbaits, toads and Jitterbugs. Before each nighttime outing, he rigs up the same three rods: a jig rod, a stickworm rod and a crankbait rod. He does stick with the common nighttime colors: blacks and blues. He goes on to say that a lot of fish are caught on topwaters, but jigs, worms and crankbaits get bit more consistently.
"For my jigs and stickworms, I use black and electric blue or black with blue flake. When the light of the moon hits that blue flake, it lights up like a neon sign in the water," he says. "The color of the crankbaits isn't as important because I rely on the thump and vibration to get their attention. Square-billed crankbaits have the most vibration."
Clark's go-to jig is a 3/8-ounce Strike King Denny Brauer Premier flipping jig in the aforementioned colors with a Strike King Denny Brauer 3X flipping trailer in blue sapphire. This is the first bait he throws to docks and rocks.
If they turn their nose up at the jig, Clark throws a Strike King Series 1 or Series 3 square-billed crankbait. Once again, color isn't important as the vibration of the bait is what they home in on.
If fishing is slow, Clark takes a 4-inch Wave Baby Tiki Stick and Texas rigs it with a 3/16-ounce weight on a 3/0 straight-shank hook and flips it around the dock, then drags it back.
As a night fishing veteran, Clark has found that the subtle things make all the difference.
"The most important thing to remember when you're night fishing is to be quiet. It's already calm, and everything you do in the boat is magnified 10 times," he says. "Turn your depthfinder off, turn the trolling motor on low and keep your voice down."