Growing up in Washington, I couldn’t wait for summer to arrive. For me, summer meant longer days to do all the fishing, hiking and camping that I wanted to do. But as I travel the country as a professional angler, I realize that to a large portion of the country summer means one thing: blazing heat. When the temperature reaches into the triple digits, most people would rather retreat to the air-conditioned comfort of home instead of enjoying the outdoors. Unfortunately, that means a lot of people are left without someone to take them on the water and introduce them to the great sport of fishing.
But fishing in the summer doesn’t mean you have to melt. When the sun goes down and the temperature starts to dip there are still plenty of fish to be caught. Night fishing is not only a great way to stay cool and get more people into the sport, but it’s also a great time to catch fish.
In addition to staying cooler, fishing at night also means that you will probably have a lot of water to yourself. No pleasure boaters and skiers to contend with, you are free to bob up and down on the water and listen to the sounds of a summer night. And the fish, which spend a lot of their day trying to stay cool like you and I do, seem to feed a little better at night.
Fishing at night can be done just about anywhere (consult your local regulations) in pursuit of just about any species. From the biggest lakes to the smallest ponds, night fishing can be great for bass, catfish, sunfish, crappie and walleye. But if you fish from a boat at night, you need to exercise a little more caution. Although my Ranger Z19 can go extremely fast across the open water, at night I drive far more slowly and use my running lights and life jackets at all times. I also use my depth finder to avoid hitting things in the water or running aground and my GPS system to find and mark things like coves and boat ramps that can’t be seen very well at night.
When fishing for bass at night, there are a few baits that are not only easy to use but also very effective. Big spinnerbaits with large blades put out a lot of vibration that attract a lot of attention from feeding fish. These baits are easy to use and can be fished with a variety of retrieves around the mouths of creeks and coves where feeding bass are likely to be.
Also, a medium-diving crankbait is good for locating feeding fish, especially near riprap. The rattle and frenzied motion of the crankbait will often trigger a feeding response. By using a medium-diving crankbait, it will help you keep it from getting the lure snagged on submerged rocks and timber while keeping it in the depth of water where bass will be feeding at night.
Finally, a big, Texas-rigged worm or a Carolina rig are perfect for targeting summer bass at night. Darker colors seem to work best at night, giving the bait a dark outline that makes it more easily found by hungry bass. Whatever your lure of choice many be, fish it slowly and allow bass more time to locate the bait’s sound or scent since its vision isn’t as acute at night. Around the country, you can find people fishing at night nearly all times of the year. But when it’s 100-plus degrees outside during the day and the kids don’t have school to go to the next day and you’ve got some vacation time built up, a summer night is the perfect time to go out and catch a lot of fish.
Ranger Boats Pro Staff member Luke Clausen is the 2006 Bassmaster Classic winner and the youngest angler in professional fishing history to eclipse the $1 million career earnings mark.