Dark thoughts

Are you a night fisherman? If you're not, you're missing out on the very best smallmouth fishing of the summer. If you are, you know how exciting it can be to go out after dark, when the crowds are off the water, and catch a bunch of good bass that you'd never have caught during the day.

If you're wondering whether or not the night fishing is any good where you chase smallmouth, I can clue you in on a few solid indicators that'll help you get started.

First, is your smallmouth water clear? The clearer the water you fish, the better it's likely to be for night fishing at any time of the year, but especially during the summer. Smallies don't like bright light, and they especially don't care to feed in bright light. It's tougher for them. The shad and the crawfish can see them coming. Ambushing prey is much more difficult. Feeding opportunities get much better under the low-light conditions of early morning, late afternoon and night.

Second, are your waters crowded? The more crowded it gets during warm weather on your favorite smallmouth waters, the more likely it is that the bass have turned nocturnal. They don't want to fight the pleasure boaters, jet skiers or tubers any more than you do. They'd rather do their thing in a little peace and quiet, and that means after the sun goes down.

Third, are you catching almost all of your bass early and late in the day, when the sun is rising or setting? If so, it means the bass are already there — they're already doing the bulk of their feeding at night. You're just mopping up around the edges as they finish up in the morning or get started in the evening.

Fourth, is it starting to get uncomfortable out there in the middle of the lake with the sun beating down on you? If it is, you need to try something new that doesn't dehydrate you from all the sweating. Why not go out on the water when things are cooler and much more pleasant? You'll catch more bass, too.

Finally, are you looking for a new challenge and more excitement with your fishing? If you are, then night fishing is definitely for you. It puts an entirely different look on your favorite water, tests your ability to function without the benefit of light and generally puts you in a position to catch more and bigger summertime smallmouth than you've ever seen or caught before.

In the next edition of "Think Smallie," I'll cover my four or five best tips for catching more brown bass after dark.

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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