Making night moves

With the Guntersville tournament behind us, we’re more than halfway through the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series schedule. It will be several weeks before I leave home to fish the next Elite event at the St. Lawrence River. I plan to make the most of the break by fishing at night. It’s something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed since I was a kid.

I supposed I could maintain my competitive edge by fishing local tournaments. But I’d rather relax and have fun night fishing. It’ll give my nerves a chance to unwind. At this point in the season, I believe that will help me clear my mind for the final round of Elite tournaments.

In summertime the onslaught of pleasure boaters, water skiers and jet boats makes for challenging fishing conditions during the day. And the heat can be can be brutal. It’s not a fun way to fish.

Fishing at night is like entering another dimension. The boats and sun worshippers retreat, the water calms and the air cools as day slips into night. You are serenaded by bullfrogs and, on clear nights, welcomed by the moon and stars.

I usually head out with my dad or a friend to Lake Hartwell or 800-acre Lure Lake near home in North Carolina. We launch my boat a few hours before dark and fish for three or four hours after nightfall. On weeknights I’ll fish until 11 or 12 and get up and go to work the next day.

Best of all, summertime bass here tend to be more active at night. After the sun goes down and it cools a little it, the bass start to move toward the bank and feed. On a lake where you may struggle to get a few bites during the day, you can go out and catch them at night.

Another big plus to fishing after dark is that it’s an awesome time to tie into a lunker. Some of the biggest bass I’ve ever caught came after dark. One of my best, a 9 1/2-pounder, smashed a buzzbait. I’ve also caught a lot of big ones on the old Texas rigged worm. I rarely get to slow down and fish a worm on the Elite trail.

At night I can relax and not worry about catching five big fish. I often slow down, take a seat and drag a worm around old man’s style. I bring plenty of snacks and cold drinks and enjoy the pure pleasure of fishing without any pressure.

I caught my first really big bass at night when I was 10 or 12 years old. I was fishing with my dad and one of his friends. My dad fished local club tournaments, so he had me fishing a worm with baitcasting tackle at a young age.

It was a few hours into the night when I felt the big one bite. I was working a sweet potato pie colored worm over a rocky point that was maybe 10 feet deep. I reared back on the rod and immediately knew I had hooked something special. The bass came up shaking its head and splashing. I could hear it but couldn’t see it. I didn’t really know what I had. After I fought the bass close to the boat, my dad reached down and lipped it.

When the boat’s running lights shined on what my dad was holding, it turned into a hoop and holler session. The largemouth weighed 7 1/2 pounds.

I keep it simple when I’m fishing at night. All you need is a worm or jig, some sort of topwater bait and a nighttime spinnerbait. TrueSouth makes my nighttime spinnerbait. It weighs 3/4 ounce and has a black skirt and a black Colorado blade. Bass feed by feel at night and that hard-thumping Colorado blade helps them home in on the bait. I throw it to the bank and slow roll it back a foot off the bottom.

I usually shine some type of light on the water, just enough so I can see the shoreline and avoid casting too far. If you’re always hung up on the bank, you won’t like fishing at night.

If you try fishing at night, be sure to bring a flashlight, bug dope, your favorite snacks and some cold drinks. Relax and enjoy the experience. While you’re at it, you just might catch a heavyweight.