Bass Fishing At Night: 20 Top Tips

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Heading out onto the water on warm nights is a great way to land some massive bass fish, especially in the early spring or summer months. While keeping track of your equipment may be a bit more difficult in the dark, the amount of bass swimming around in the shallows just waiting to strike is higher at night than in the day.

Here you will find 20 excellent tips for bass fishing at night, regardless of whether you are fishing on clear or muddy lakes. Each of these tips will help you get prepared, get out on the water, and haul in those big bass.

Night Bass Fishing Tips and Tricks

Night fishing for bass is not much more difficult than fishing during the day and has a higher chance of landing larger trophy-sized fish. The biggest risk with night fishing you may have is striking structures with your boat if you are in unfamiliar waters. 

Night fishing for bass also ensures you will have much less competition from other anglers, and you won’t have to deal with boat traffic that scares the fish away. Additionally, with the temperatures being cooler at night, bass are much more aggressive and ready to strike at a variety of prey items.

Get Prepared Before The Sun Goes Down

Before it gets too dark, spend time exploring the lake to make sure you know where you will be doing the majority of your fishing for the night. Once the sun goes down, you don’t want to be moving your boat around any more than necessary, especially in unfamiliar areas.

Don’t bring too much gear, but make sure everything you have is well organized. If you plan on using multiple rigs, have them ready to go in your tackle box and either already set up on different rods, or easy to switch out as needed with your single rod. 

Safety First – No Excuses

While boat safety should always be your top priority, ensuring you are fully paying attention to safety when night fishing is extremely important. Use the buddy system when possible, and always wear your personal flotation device. Losing your balance and falling overboard is much easier to do in low light situations.

Don’t forget to let someone on shore know when you plan to return. Keep an eye on the current weather as well as any changes that may be coming, and if a storm is brewing don’t risk going out on the water. Night fishing irresponsibly can not only put you in danger, but can also endanger other boaters that may also be out on the water with you.

Additionally, keeping a first aid kit on board can be a very good idea. This can help with basic injuries such as cuts and scrapes, as well as more serious injuries such as bites from wild animals like snakes, insects or other animals that may be more active at night.

Stay Organized – Tackle, Boat, Everything

Remaining organized is extremely important, especially when you can’t see everything on board very well. When night fishing, always ensure the deck of your boat is clear from anything you can trip over. This includes extra rods, coolers, ropes, or anything else that may cause you to lose your footing.

Don’t forget to remember to include lights. This goes for personal lights such as flashlights or hands-free headlamps, as well as proper lights on your boat’s stern and bow. Lights on your boat as well as yourself will not only make it easier to get things done while out on the water at night, but will also ensure other boaters in the area can see you.

Before the sun goes down, make sure you have your tackle organized and in an easy to reach spot. The last thing you want to be doing is climbing all over the boat in the dark trying to find your favorite lure. Additionally, be prepared to sit quietly so you don’t scare the fish away, and don’t be afraid to cast your line in multiple times to find optimal casting angles to land more bass.

Learn To Fish in Low Light

Being organized with your fishing equipment and planning your trip well is really important on the success of your night fishing trip.

Fishing during the day when you can see the rod, line, lures and other components is much easier than it is at night when you’re working more on feel than vision. Using a more sensitive rod and fishing line can be an excellent help here.

You shouldn’t have much difficulty fishing successfully on a well-lit night with a full moon, but night fishing while under cloud cover or when you’re deep in the shadows of vegetation becomes much more challenging.

If you must use lights while night fishing, opt for using red or green lighting. This is much less visible to fish while still providing plenty of light for you to work with on board. Bright white light is, of course, the most appealing to work under, especially when tying rigs and attaching bait, but can also scare fish away very easily.

Use a Black Light to Show Up Fluorescent Line

If you want to make night fishing a little bit easier, consider using a fluorescent line with a black-light to make it highly visible to you. Black lights can be found in battery-powered lanterns, as well as light strips you can attach to your boat’s rub rail. A black light will not only help to gently illuminate the area of the water around your boat, but will also help the line glow when it comes close.

Many professional anglers that focus on night fishing for the big trophy bass will use fluorescent line and black lights to get an edge over the competition. It’s much easier to maintain an organized boat deck when you can see exactly where your rods, rigs, and reels are laying by locating the glowing line itself, plus black lights will not scare away fish.

Rig Several Rods in Advance

Attempting to rig up your favorite rods when visibility is limited is easier said than done, and can end up being more frustrating than anything. If you know what rod and reel combos you want to use, be sure you have them rigged and ready for bait before you even start night fishing. 

This also helps save the day if you happen to break another rod or lose it overboard. Instead of ending the fishing trip, you will have spares to use while still searching for that next big bass to strike your lure.

New Moon or Full Moon Fishing

Many people that study the lunar cycles and the moon phase when it comes to fishing say that the biggest fish can be caught under the new moon phase. Many anglers that follow these cycles have found that they have landed their best fish within 3 days on either side of a new moon.

A full moon, on the other hand, mostly finds big fish remaining in cover or shaded areas. If you are fishing under a full moon, try tossing your line into areas that are shaded from moonlight by trees, docks or piers, or other waterfront structures.

The color of your lure can also play a part during both full moon and new moon fishing. For example, if the moonlight is bright and visibility is fair, consider using chartreuse, green or orange lures to make fish strike.

If the moonlight is hidden by clouds, or the night is just exceptionally dark, go for an equally dark color in your lures such as black or blue. The fish will be attempting to strike your lure by its silhouette, so try to make it as contrasting as possible with the dark water.

If the color of the lure isn’t helping regardless of a new or full moon, try using a rattle lure or other noise-making rig to help the night fish pinpoint your bait. Since bass vision is limited at night even on a good moon phase, they hunt more by vibrations in the water. Having a “noisy” lure can be a huge help.

Keep “noise” to a minimum

While you want your lure to be somewhat noisy, you don’t want your boat or other fishing accessories to scare away the fish. Try to focus on being as quiet as possible when moving around on the boat as vibrations will be amplified in the water and can scare away the fish for the whole night.

Before you get to your fishing spot, turn off your trolling motor and use a paddle to move into position if possible. This eliminates the sounds of the engine, trolling motor or other movement on board from scaring away the fish.

Best seasons for Night Bass Fishing

Fishing during the spring or summer when a stormfront is moving in makes bass of all sizes to be extremely active to take your baits.

When it comes to the best season for big bass fishing at night, spring and very early summer night fishing can be the most promising. Day and nighttime temperatures will fluctuate greatly helping to increase night fish activity in both deep water as well as the shallows. The glaring summer sun has been changed to a bright moonlight, and huge fish are on the prowl for food.

During the spring, monster bass are still coming out of their winter temperatures in the deep water and are looking for a good meal. Many of their normal bait fish prey items are spawning and becoming abundant, so hungry bass and other game fish are active.

In addition to considering the season, you also need to consider the weather. During the hot and humid months, the temperatures can be too high during the day for giant bass fish to be very active. They will move deeper in the lake to find cooler water away from the bright sunlight and will remain there well into the night.

If you can fish during the spring or summer when a stormfront is moving in, you might find bass of all sizes to be extremely active and highly aggressive when it comes to taking your bait and lures. This is a great time to use your old favorites, or try and new rig and see what you can haul out of the water.

Best Spots To Night Fish For Bass

If you have a favorite fishing spot that has done well in the past, be sure to give it a try first. Sometimes your favorite spot is a favorite for a reason. However, if you notice fish being more timid or reluctant to strike in this area, try other spots to land a bass fish.

For example, areas where there is some low light is a great choice. This can be around docks or piers, boat mooring, or marinas. Bass need to see their prey to strike it, so being in an area with some gentle lighting will help.

Additionally, be sure to focus on more shallow water areas. During the night the bass will move into the shallows to track down their favorite prey. Try tossing your lure under sparse vegetation such as lily pads or other floating weeds. You can also try weaving your lure around sunken logs, fallen trees, or a stump field from past flooding.

Fishing Jigs At Night

If you’re fishing around a rock outcropping, using a jig can be a great way to get big fish to strike. Bass and many other gamefish love eating crayfish, and during the night those crustaceans come out in droves. This is the best time to use your jig with a crayfish trailer to get a bass to take notice.

As with other lures, try going for colors that will contrast with the darkness of the night. Bass will be looking for movement and silhouettes, so using a solid black, dark blue, black-and-blue or dark brown jig can be a good choice.

Fishing Buzzbaits for Night Bass

If you’re fishing on windy nights, consider switching to a buzzbait. These bold lures are known to land some of the biggest fish, as well as a healthy amount of them too! Add a bit of a weight to the lure so you can get a long cast, and let it slowly move down the water column with the breeze.

Also, consider attaching a clacker to your buzzbait to really get fish to take notice. If you’re not getting bites from the looks of the lure alone, adding some sound for the fish to target can work wonders for topwater strikes. Whether you are brand new to buzzbaits, or have used them for years, when it comes to catching the big bass, this is the lure to use.

Frog Fishing For Bass at Night

While using topwater frogs might be hit or miss depending on the fish in your particular area, if you can find fish that aren’t afraid to strike a topwater lure, a frog is the one you want to use. Color won’t matter much, so just focus on presentation and movement instead. If you have to select a color, go for solid black for the best results on both low light and very dark nights.

Try to keep your frogs away from heavy vegetation and instead move them across the topwater in the open. You can try casting them near docks and over points to get a good chance of luring in a monster-sized fish, but have patience and give them a try before moving onto something else. Once you hear a bass gulp your frog, you’ll never forget that sound or feel of a big bass slam!

Spinnerbaits For Night Bass

Spinnerbaits are an excellent option for quickly casting and moving through the water quickly. It’s a great option for finding the fish in new areas at night. Try casting them near structures, grass beds, and points.

Spinnerbaits are not one of the best choices for fishing at night for bass, but can be successful when done right. For example, try going with a ¼ ounce spinnerbait so it remains high in the water. If you want it to drop it a bit deeper, go for ⅜ ounce.

If you are having trouble getting fish to take notice, try using a Colorado Spinnerbait which has a vibrating blade. This distinct “thump” can lure in even the most reluctant bass and make them strike at your bait.

If visibility is high from a full moon, go with an Indiana Spinnerbait with a bright colored skirt. This will give fish an excellent presentation to strike without needing the blade to be louder than usual with vibrations in the water.

Bladed Swim Jigs

There are a range of bladed jigs, and their main purpose is to make a lot of sound through vibrations. This makes them an excellent choice for extremely dark nights where the bright moon is hidden by clouds.

If bass cannot locate your lure by vision, they’ll target it by sound and bladed jigs (click here to get one) are made to displace the water as they are pulled through it and vibrate like crazy. If you can get a large and bulky bladed jig, this will usually end up being much more successful than smaller blades when fishing in a very dark night.

Night Fishing With Swimbaits

Use a very large swimbait that is around 5 inches or more to grab the attention of those trophy bass when night fishing on a full moon.

Swim baits are lower down on the list when it comes to chosen fishing lures to use, however they still have a time and a place for successful use. Since they don’t make any vibrations or other sound when in the water, they are not a good choice for use on very dark nights.

However, if you find yourself fishing on a night with a bright full moon, don’t be afraid to toss a swimbait into the water. Use a very large swimbait that is around 5 inches or more to really grab the attention of those trophy bass. Bulky swim baits are an excellent way to discourage the smaller bass and get those monsters to come up from the deeper water and slam into it.

Be sure to move your swimbait through the water slowly, with only the occasional pop on your rod tip. Too much movement can scare bass away from it, so take it slow and don’t get too eager. Let your swimbait reach the bottom before you start slowly luring it in again. This gentle up and down motion will not only make bass take notice, but will entice them to strike as well.

Using Large Soft Baits

Large soft baits are an excellent option for landing bigger fish when used on either Texas or Carolina rigs. Worms, grubs, lizards, frogs, and other creature style soft baits can look exceptionally appealing to large and hungry bass. 

Don’t be afraid to use large and bulky baits here. Bass fish want to go for the easy meal, so if they can find something sizable that they can easily strike, they will. During the night, bass won’t have a good visual of your soft bait so won’t notice if it looks entirely artificial. They will simply focus on whether or not it looks like it will fit in their mouth.

Glow in the dark lures?

While glow in the dark lures can work more effectively for some game fish such as trout, pike and crappie, as well as numerous saltwater fish, bass respond very little to them. Using a glow in the dark lure can make bass fishing at night easier on you, but won’t be the secret weapon you might be hoping for. It is, however, worth a try!

Night fishing from a kayak or canoe

Nighttime bass fishing from a kayak or canoe is definitely doable, but can be entirely more dangerous than it is in the daytime. Keeping your items organized is much more important in a kayak where space is at an extreme limit. And using your lifejacket should never be a second thought.

If fishing in areas where dangerous animals are present, such as water snakes, alligators, large turtles, or other creatures, always be sure to keep your hands and other body parts out of the water. Also keep in mind that extremely dangerous animals such as alligators are much more active at night, so if your area has many of them, it might be best to avoid kayak nighttime bass fishing altogether.

Final Thoughts for Night Fishing for Bass

Bass fishing at night can be one of the best ways for most anglers to land a new world champion sized fish. Not only are bass more bold and willing to strike during the night, but the lower visibility also makes them less skittish of strange looking lures. Additionally, big bass prowl edges of much larger lakes which brings them in closer to shore for you to target.

Ensuring your boat is well organized before the sun goes down is extremely important. Also, be sure a family member or friend on shore knows when to expect you back. Never go night fishing without using your personal flotation devices as stumbling and falling overboard can be much easier to do when in low visibility areas.

While it might take a bit more organization before the sun even goes down, night fishing for big bass can be extremely relaxing and very productive. You’ll soon be landing some of the biggest bass you’ve ever seen during your next night time fishing trip! 

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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