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Night Fishing Guide

Fishing at night is a great option for avoiding the brutal heat of the summer months. High heat isn’t just uncomfortable for us, it also affects fish too. During the hottest times of the year bass struggle due to less oxygen being in the water. Nighttime gives them a cooler period where they are often more active. The darkness of night also gives them more cover to hunt more effectively.

If you have never tried fishing at night it is definitely something you will want to try during the hotter months. In this post, we will cover everything from beginner to advanced night fishing tips so you will be able to consistently catch bass at night.

Full Moon Vs No Moon: Which is Better for Night Fishing

There is a heated debate on which moon phase is best for fishing at night. Some argue fishing during a full moon is best. Others are adamant that the new moon (no moon) is best for fishing. So what’s the right answer? I have found that it heavily depends on the body of water.

For clear water with more than 3ft of visibility, no moon (new moon) is best.

For murkier water with less than 3ft of visibility, a full moon is best.

A clear water fishery with a bright moon isn’t much different than fishing during the day. Baitfish will still be able to see bass from far away so the nighttime doesn’t provide much benefit to a bass hunting ability. So in clear water, the darker half of the month or when there is no moon will be better for night fishing.

In a murky water fishery, the extra light from the moon helps bass. They tend to hunt more during the lighter half of the month.

Night Fishing Tips & Best Lures for Catching Bass at Night

When fishing at night there are three categories of baits you want to focus on: bottom contact, topwater, and reaction baits.

1. Bottom Contact Baits For Catching Bass at Night

When fishing bottom contact baits there are two great options at night, either a curly-tailed worm or a jig. It seems to change night to night which option is better so tie on both and once you start getting bites with one stick with it.

  • For a curly tail worm, fish it texas rigged with a heavy pegged weight. The reason you want your weight pegged at night is because you lose your ability to watch your line and instead have to rely on feel. You want to have constant contact with your bait so you don’t miss a bite. For the same reason, you want to use a heavy 1/2 oz+ weight. The heavier weight will ensure you have contact with the bottom and you can feel exactly what’s going on with your bait and you don’t miss a bite.
  • For a jig, you want a heavier 1/2 oz+ jig for the same reasons as the worm. You want constant contact in order to feel everything and not miss a bite. At night you can use a jig with a bigger hook without worrying about the size scaring off bites so up your hook size to ensure you are ready for giant bass.

For bottom contact baits color isn’t as important at night. Although I prefer darker colors like black and blue, it isn’t worth going out and buying new baits just for darker colors. At night use whatever colors you already have.

2. Reaction Baits That Attract Bites at Night

  • Swim Jig – Due to the lower visibility at night I use a California swim jig for its larger hook. The larger hook won’t scare off any bites at night and you will be better prepared for a bigger bite. You want to use a 3/4 oz jig and keep contact with the bottom. Use a steady retrieve while maintaining contact. If you lose contact, click to release your reel, letting out line until you feel bottom again. Once you are back in contact continue your steady retrieve. Pair your swim jig with a Keitech swimbait for its slow wide kick that moves a lot of water.
  • Spinnerbait – Spinnerbaits are great at night. Choose a spinnerbait with a willow blade for a better vibration match to threadfin shade which is in most bodies of water throughout the country.
  • Chatterbait – Fishing a chatterbait at night is great when targeting shallower water. I fish my chatterbaits on a steady retrieve with an occasional quick reel burst.
  • Deep Diving Crankbait – At night mid-size deep diving crankbaits are a great option. Typically the 6-14ft depth zone will hold most of the fish at night. For this zone, I like using a 6XD.

When choosing colors for reaction baits at night you want to base your selection based on the brightness of the moon. During a new moon (completely dark) you want to stick to more natural colors that won’t stand out because in nature there aren’t any fish that stand out in the darkness.

When there is a full moon and it’s brighter out you can switch to brighter whites and chartreuse. These will match the color of shad lit up by the moon.

3. Top Water Lures For Exciting Blowups at Night

The most important thing about fishing a topwater bait at night is you want a bait that stays straight on the retrieve. Walking style baits that have large side-to-side sways will cause many missed strikes are night. The darker conditions make it harder for bass to track fully so a bait that stays straight is easier for them to successfully track and strike. Baits that are great for this are:

  • Whopper Plopper – The whopper plopper 130 is great at night because it stays in a straight line while putting out a ton of noise and water disturbance that makes it much easier to track in the dark. Another great thing about a whopper plopper is the furthest back thing on it is a hook so it makes it much harder for the fish to miss a hook.
  • Wakebait – Wakebaits stay on a straight path and put out a big v-shaped wake that makes it easier for fish to track at night. Along with the wake they put out wakebaits are larger profiled baits that make them stand out more in the dark.

Essential Accessories for Fishing at Night

When fishing at night there are a few essential items you will want to make your life easier.

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1. Head Lamp

The first is a good headlamp. Being able to see while you move around or handle a fish is vital. You may be tempted to use a handheld flashlight or your phone’s light but when you hook a big fish the last thing you want is to be searching for your light in the dark. With a headlamp, you just have to reach up click it on and then your focus is right back on landing the fish.

2. Heavy Duty Wire Cutters

When fishing at night I recommend you use heavier gauged hooks than you during the day. Because of this make sure you have wire cutters that can handle cutting through your hooks. You do not want to be in a situation where you are in the dark and hook yourself without a way to cut the hook out.

Frequently Asked Questions About Night Fishing

Is night fishing better than day fishing?

The best time to fight night vs day varies depending on the time of the year. During the warmer summer months, fishing during the night is better. During the cooler winter months, fishing will be better during the day.

Are largemouth bass active at night?

During the warmer months bass are often more active during the night. This is due to cooler water being able to hold more dissolved oxygen than warmer water.  Additionally darker water gives bass more cover when hunting.

What time is best for night fishing?

The best time for night fishing is 2 hours after sunset through sunrise. The two hours following sunset is when the water will really start to cool off after a hot day and oxygen levels will start to rise. Bass will be more active during this cooler period during the summer.

Do topwater lures work at night?

Topwater lures are great at night and can be one of the most fun baits to use. At night you want a topwater bait that retrieves in a straigth line to make it easier for fish to track.

Is night fishing allowed?

Fishing at night is Legal in the USA. There are no restrictions countrywide for fishing at night. Some bodies of water may have hour restrictions that you can check by visiting your state’s department of natural resources.

Now that you know how to successfully fish at night, learn about other fishing conditions.