Join the Night Club: Summer Bass Fishing | Great Days Outdoors

After dark, hit the lake for some nighttime bass action.


During the summer months, many lakes and reservoirs receive heavy fishing pressure and boating traffic during the day. As the water clears and the daytime temperature rises, the bass head for cooler conditions in deeper water. But after dark, they move shallow to feed under the stars.

Summertime in the Cotton State means high temperatures and humidity. Fishing conditions can be unbearable when the sun is out. Bass head to deep water haunts to avoid the sun, heat and noise.

However, bass anglers can join the night club for more peaceful conditions and better fishing and start their summer bass fishing at night.

Getting Ready For the Big Date

Summer bass fishing at night has become more popular in recent years. Safety is important on the water anytime, but even more so after dark.


Some lake levels are lower in summer due to power generation through hydroelectric dams. It’s important for boaters and anglers to use caution when on the lake or river after dark.

Anglers need to do some preparation for a nighttime bass excursion. Flashlights and other portable lights are a must for fishing in the night. Small head-mounted or clip-on lights for your cap are great for digging out tackle or tying a knot. A spotlight or bright light is handy to locate objects on the water’s surface when motoring to your fishing hole.

“I usually carry along two flashlights when fishing at night,” comments Bart Smith of Riverside, Ala. “I keep a large one close by to shine across the water when approaching the shoreline.”

“Having your gear ready and at hand saves time and frustration when the fishing action begins.”

Check the batteries in the portable lights before leaving home and carry a couple of extras. Also, check the boat’s navigation lights for proper operation. Charge and inspect the cranking and trolling motor batteries as well. Make sure the decks and floor area are clear of any objects not required.

Smith says it’s also important to have all your gear properly stored in the boat. He says knowing where all your tackle is located makes it much easier to find in the darkness. Having your gear ready and at hand saves time and frustration when the fishing action begins.

“Go ahead and rig your rods before leaving home,” Smith advises. “Only take along the gear that you need. Too many rods on the deck can get in the way.”


Plot your GPS points before leaving the dock. Photo by Charles Johnson.

Night Club Safety 

Smith recommends fishing an area of the lake that’s familiar to you. Certain landmarks are not visible after dark and the lake surroundings can look completely different. Even moonlit nights can make navigation on the river a little tricky.

GPS electronics can be a great asset during nighttime fishing excursions. Favorite fishing holes can be marked by waypoints and easily located in the dark. Most GPS units have a back-track or trail feature that makes it easy to reverse course to head back to the launch ramp in the dark. Plan ahead on the areas and locations you want to target on the night excursion.

It’s a good idea to make your longest run just before dusk. Fish your key spots back toward the boat ramp after dark. The reason for the run is to look at any floating debris on the water that could be hit while on plane in the night. A pair of clear safety style glasses or face shield for running after dark will keep those little pesky bugs out of your face and eyes.

“After a short time, your eyes should become adjusted to the low-light conditions,” Smith says. “Keep lights in the boat to a minimum in order to avoid losing your night vision.”

It’s best to fish with at least one partner when on the lake at night. Partners can assist each other in boating fish, handling equipment and watching for objects on the water when motoring across the lake. One safety tip for nighttime boat operations is to slow down. Judging distances on the water at night is a little different than in the daylight hours and excess speed can have objects coming in faster than expected.

Locations and Lures for Night Club Bass

What areas of the lake would be productive at night? Smith says to fish the same basic areas you would normally fish during the day. He also suggests points leading to shallow water flats, weed beds and lighted piers are good places to search for nighttime bass on any lake.

A top choice for nighttime bass is black or dark-colored spinner baits. Buzzbaits and top-water lures like a Zara Spook will produce bass strikes after dark. Some spinner baits have rattles, copper or dark painted blades to make the lure even more enticing to the bass.

Use black or other dark lures for nighttime bass. Photo by Charles Johnson.


How are the fish going to see a black or dark-colored lure at night? That’s a good question. Smith explains the bass in the water are looking up to a dimly-lit sky. The lure is silhouetted against the sky, making it easier for the bass to see.

“I use a 3/8- ounce black spinner bait with a No. 5 Colorado blade for night fishing,” adds Smith. “I like a few pinks stands in the rubber skirt.”

Smith says he will add a Zoom Speed Craw trailer to add some bulk and increase the profile of the lure. He prefers a slow and steady retrieve for nighttime bass fishing. If the fish are more aggressive, he will speed up his retrieve.

Water depth in the four- to eight-feet range around shoreline weeds and brush is where Smith will concentrate first. Sometimes he will switch to a 1/2- ounce model bait to gain a little more depth. His rod is a Duckett Micro Magic (seven feet) in a heavy action. Smith says the bass will annihilate the spinner bait.

“Don’t be concerned about line sizes for nighttime bassin.’ “

Don’t be concerned about line sizes for nighttime basin.’ Larger pound-test lines won’t be detected in the dark waters. The heavier lines will prevent from breaking off during hang-ups and will also help boating larger keeper fish.

“I’ll tie my spinner bait on 65-pound-test Vicious braided line,” Smith reports. “With the braid, I don’t have to worry about re-tying a knot in the dark after catching a fish.”

Large soft-plastic worms in dark colors are another excellent choice for nighttime bass anglers. Black, purple and green pumpkin are prime candidates. Curly or ribbon tail worms also provide some vibration that can be appealing to bass under the stars. Eight- to ten-inch worms work well for big bass and can be rigged virtually weedless.

During the summer months, there is no need to pack up at sundown. Grab a few rods and some dark-colored lures and join the night club for hot bass action.

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