Have you ever wondered whether or not bass will bite at night? That’s a question that I found myself asking while on the lake this past summer in Florida while battling 98-degree heat during the middle of August. The prospect of fishing for bass at night seemed like a good idea, so I did a little research and here is what I found out.
Yes, bass will bite at night! However, if you want to catch big bass during the nighttime hours, it seems that you’ll need to wait for several hours after sunset before trying your luck. According to Ken Duke of Bassmaster Magazine, the period between sunset and around 10 pm, bass are moving to where they plan on feeding for the night. They usually won’t feed until after they get to where they are going.
Now that you know that bass will bite at night, let’s take a look at how you can go about catching a few of them for yourself.
Bass Fishing at Night in The Summer
The summer months are without a doubt the best time of the year to go bass fishing at night! This is due to the extreme heat that the summer months bring with them. The heat not only makes fishing during the day sometimes unbearable, but it can also dramatically affect the feeding habits of bass.
Due to their post-spawn patterns in the summer heat, bass will often become lethargic and tough to catch, especially when the water temps start to climb into the 80’s.
Another thing to consider when fishing for bass during the summer months is the increased boat traffic, both from more fishermen as well as pleasure boaters and skiers. This increased traffic can cause bass to lay low until the craziness subsides, when just so happens to be during the nighttime hours.
Know Where The Bass Will Be Biting
As the night begins, the surface waters begin to cool, which will draw the bass up from the depths where they’ve been holding up to avoid the daytime heat.
The fact that the bass may have not fed all day long, coupled with the cooler water, should entice them to strike a properly placed bait.
The best places to fish for bass at night is where a deep drop off slowly rises to roughly 2-3 feet of water. This will usually take place someplace near the lakeshore, but can sometimes be found in the middle of a lake.
Make Sure to Use The Right Bait
When targeting bass at night, it is vital that you are using the right bait. While you can catch bass on pretty much anything, including live bait, since they will be mostly feeding on the surface, it’s best to use some sort of a topwater bait.
I tried using a plastic worm, but it seemed that the only thing that would strike them was the little juveniles. I caught the larger bass on a Rapala Skeeter Popper. If you want, you can check out the exact one that I used here on Amazon.
Also, some fishermen claim that certain colors work best. I personally think that color doesn’t play as huge of a role as some might think.
When bass are feeding at night, they are looking to the surface, so I don’t think that color is important. All they are seeing is the silhouette of what they hope will be their next meal. I feel that what type of lure you use and how you use it is much more important.
Can Bass See at Night
Don’t assume that just because you can’t see at night, that bass can’t either! Like most fish, bass can see extremely well in low-light conditions, including nighttime hours!
Not only that, but bass have incredible hearing too! And if that’s not enough, that little lateral line running along their bodies is actually a sensor that helps them to locate and devour their unsuspecting prey.
So yes, bass can see, hear, and sense very well at night, so there’s no need to worry about whether or not they will be able to find your bait or not.
Is it Legal to Fish For Bass at Night
Yes, it’s perfectly legal to fish for bass at night! As long as you have the proper navigational lights for your boat and have a freshwater fishing license, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about!
Do Bass and Other Fish Sleep
Like humans and other animals, fish also need their rest, including bass. So yes, bass do sleep!
However, the way in which fish (including bass) sleep is quite different from most other animals.
Some fish, including bass, will just hover on the bottom while they catch some zzz’s. But don’t let their inactivity fool you! While part of their brain shuts down so that their bodies can rejuvenate, the other half has to remain active in case predators try to cash in on an easy snack.
This is also the case for those species of fish who have to keep swimming even while sleeping. Half of their brain rests, while the other half keep their bodies in motion. Pretty extraordinary when you think about it.
The time of the day that a fish sleeps really depends on the species! With that being said, most bass are more active during the day, so they will catch (no pun intended) some sleep at night. There really isn’t any scientific evidence as to what time of night they sleep or for how long they sleep at a time.
Will Bass Bite When Sleeping
I suppose there is an exception to every rule, but for the most part, no. Bass will not bite when they’re sleeping. This, in part, is due to the fact that while sleeping, they are not thinking about their next meal. Besides sleep, their main objective is to stay alive, so if they feel threatened at all, they will flee.
Another reason that you won’t get a bass to bite when they’re sleeping is that you won’t be able to get to where they are bedding. Bass that are trying to catch a few zzz’s will find cover in a location where they feel safe, such as lily pads, sawgrass, tree stumps, and other types of structure that will ensure they will be protected.
Do Bass Bite Better When There’s a Full Moon
After doing a ton of research on this subject, I couldn’t find any hard scientific evidence that clearly states exactly how a full moon affects a bass’s feeding habits at night.
With that being said, I did come to one conclusion…the moon definitely can play a role in bass behavior! However, you will be hard pressed to find anyone agreeing exactly how. It seems that every fisherman has their opinions as to whether it’s better to fish a full moon, new moon, quarter moon, etc.
Some fishermen claim that while they catch bigger bass on full moon nights, they catch more bass on nights with a new moon.
While I have never fished for bass on a full moon night, I have been saltwater fishing on the flats during many full moon nights and have had great success.
The one thing I will say is, that if you plan on fishing the full moon, you may want to plan going out on the first or second night.
When saltwater fishing, I’ve found that the bite dramatically slows after the first couple of nights of a full moon. My theory is that the fish will gorge themselves on baitfish the first couple of nights, therefore will not be as hungry the following nights.
If anything else, fishing at night on a full moon will make seeing things much easier!
Safety Tips for Night Time Fishing
The key to being safe when fishing at night is to plan ahead! Here are a few tips that should ensure you have a great trip:
Organize your gear – This means to have all your gear in order and ready to go on your boat so that you can access it quickly and easily with limited amounts of light. This will help you avoid tripping over your gear, poking yourself with a hook, and even possibly sitting down on a sharp knife.
First Aid Kit – This should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many boaters/fishermen opt to not have a first aid kit handy. I’m not sure if it’s just a matter of forgetting to include it or a macho thing. Whatever the case, it’s really important that you have one!
Light – This is not only important for safety reason, but it’s the law that you have to have two sets of navigational lights when operating a boat at night and predawn hours. I would also suggest that you purchase a headlamp, as well as a couple of good quality battery, operated LED lights.
Plan Ahead – This is probably the most important tip of them all…make sure you plan ahead! This not only means that you need to know the area that you’ll be fishing like the back of your hand! The last thing you want to happen is to run into any unforeseen dangers such as tree stumps, docks, and the lake bottom due to shallow water.
It’s also a good idea to leave a detailed itinerary with someone. It should include where you’ll be launching your boat at, who you’ll be going fishing with, what time you plan on being back, and general area of the lake that you’ll be fishing at.
Also, make sure you know what the weather is going to be like!
Bass fishing at night can be a great alternative to waking up in the predawn hours of summer in order to beat the heat as well as avoid all the crowds on the lake. Let me just say though that fishing at night (especially from a boat) can be a little scary at first, especially if you don’t plan ahead.
As long as you follow the tips that I’ve outlined in this article, you should have a great night time trip, and hopefully, catch a few night time bass.