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The HUGE BITE is at Night!

By Gregg Munck

Big smallmouth bass
Big smallmouth bass.

If you are looking for an exciting and truly memorable fishing adventure that you won’t soon forget, I would suggest that you schedule a fishing trip under the cover of darkness. I can’t even remember how many years ago that I started launching my boat into the still of the night.

If you are looking for an exciting and truly memorable fishing adventure that you won’t soon forget, I would suggest that you schedule a fishing trip under the cover of darkness. I can’t even remember how many years ago that I started launching my boat into the still of the night.

Monster bass
Monster bass.

I have learned many valuable lessons over the years, during my nighttime fishing excursions. If you think that those line twists, baitcasting reel overruns, line wrapping around the tip of your rod, and other fishing mishaps only happen during the daylight hours, then you are sadly mistaken. You can multiply these problems when fishing after dusk. You will want to bring extra spools of line, extra go-to lures, and remember to take extra rods and reels that are already rigged.

Here are a couple things to remember when choosing a lake for night fishing. The most productive lakes will have clear or lightly stained water. Lakes that experience intense fishing pressure are a good choice to try after dusk.

Giant walleye
Giant walleye.

I often prefer to use the moon phases when targeting trophy fish. Sometimes I will fish three days prior to the full or dark moon phases. Other times, I will decide to fish the three days after the full or dark moon. I always keep a close watch on what the weather is doing before and during the moon phases. The recent weather patterns help me make my final decision on which nights I plan to fish. For instance, if a low pressure system is being forecasted to arrive just prior to the dark moon, then that is when you will find me on the water. And if you happen to be dealing with unstable weather leading into a full moon phase, I will fish two or three days before the full moon. If the bite seems to be negative, then I will wait and try again two or three days after the full moon, or simply focus on another body of water.

Let us take a look at the lures that have performed the best during low light conditions for me through the years. When I am targeting smallmouth bass, I like a ½ ounce short arm spinnerbait with a size four or five single Colorado blade and a black skirt. I prefer crawdad pattern crankbaits in chartreuse and orange colors with rattles. Remember that all lure’s that are manufactured with rattles, do have a different frequency.

My choice for top water action is a black jitterbug. On certain nights when I want more commotion from my topwater presentation, I will throw a ½ ounce black buzzbait with a clacker. When I am interested in a more subtle presentation, I will use a 4 ½ inch black tube bait. Remember to insert a couple tube rattles so your offering will be easier for the fish to locate. I prefer to use suspending jerkbaits with a dark back and a light belly because they can be extremely productive.

If I happen to be pursuing largemouth bass, I will use the same crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and top water lures that are mentioned for chasing smallies. When fishing the weed beds, I use black or dark colored frogs and rats, and stick rattles inside the lures. Swim baits are also included in my arsenal of lures. At times, it sure is hard to beat the vibration of the swim bait.

While stalking the elusive walleye, I opt for slender profile lures. The Rebel minnow, Rattlin Rouge, Luckycraft pointer, Yo-Zuri deep diver, and Rapala’s, husky jerks have worked well for me over the years. Imitation crawdad crankbaits will also drive walleyes crazy on a given night. I also throw swim baits which can be irresistible to walleyes at certain times.

Walleye’s can drive you insane because of their finicky moods. When I need a subtle approach, I turn to vertical jigging. I often Texas rig small plastic baits like tiny craws, leaches, and four-inch finesse worms. Any color will work, as long as its dark or black. One extremely important aspect to remember when night fishing for monsters is adding a few glass bead rattles to your offering, but only if it is necessary. The fish won’t be positioned in the same location after the sun goes down. I like to fish the main lake points along shallow rip rap and shallow weed edges. Don’t forget to fish the shallow rock piles and ledges.

I also like to use glow-in-the-dark lure craft tape. I will cut small circles that will represent eyes, etc. Then I will apply a couple of thin coats of clear nail polish, because it will help keep the lure craft tape on the bait a lot longer. While fishing at night for trophy fish, remember “slow and steady” is a winning approach. Your lure will appear much more natural when it is moving along slowly. I believe that you should keep your boat noise to a minimum. I don’t mean talking to your fishing partner.

Try not to drop items on the bottom of the boat. And you don’t want to run the trolling motor into anything either. Any of these unnatural sounds will signal the fish that you are present. Always return to your prime spots more than once. All the fish in the lake won’t move into the shallow water at the same time. So if you happen to be searching for that FISH of a lifetime, nighttime just might be the right time for you!

Gregg is a nationally known multi species trophy fisherman who has fished the Southwestern United States for over twenty years. Gregg has earned numerous awards, which include four Arizona state records to his credit. Gregg’s “Trophy Fishing Secrets” book in now available on his website.