As the days get longer and the sun gets hotter in June, daytime fishing for bass gets tougher as surface water temperatures rise to the mid 80’s. This situation worsens into July and August and anglers must adjust their fishing times to continue to catch bass.
The best remedy to the heat and the slow daytime bite is to fish at night, especially in clear lakes such as Lake Cumberland, Herrington Lake, Barren River Lake and the highland lakes of eastern Kentucky. The lakes are devoid of pleasure boaters and personal watercraft and few anglers are on the water at night. This is a nice change of pace for most summertime anglers because Kentucky’s lakes and rivers are more crowded during the day than at any other time of the year.
However, night fishing requires a whole new approach than daytime fishing. The most obvious consideration is darkness. Boating anglers should scout productive areas during the day near where they plan to launch. Night time is a tough time to make a 30 mile run up the lake to a good fishing spot. Bank fisherman should find good banks that are a short walking distance from where you park. Hiking three miles to a remote bank at night can be dangerous.
Bring with you only the bare essentials. Keep your casting decks free of tools and rods. Many expensive fishing rods are broken each year by night fisherman stumbling around their boats at night searching for a pair of pliers. There is no need for a dozen rods on a night trip. Two or three rods are all you need for night bass fishing.
Lure selection is simple and one small tackle box or soft-sided pouch is all you need. The best colors should cast a good silhouette in the water with black being the most popular. Other dark colors such as wine, purple, green and brown will work as well. A lighter color combination such as pumpkin seed/chartreuse or smoke/purple may be the best on very clear lake. Smoke/purple is a very popular night time combination on Herrington Lake.
The black spinnerbait with one big Colorado blade is probably the number one night time bait for summer bass. A spinnerbait with one big Colorado blade emits a big thumping vibration that can draw fish from a distance. One big blade emits more vibration than multiple blade spinnerbaits popular for daytime fishing. The black spinnerbait will catch both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Black or brown hair jigs with a pork trailer are often used at night for smallmouth bass in clear lakes. Jigs with pork or plastic trailers and big worms or grubs are popular for night time largemouth bass.
Topwaters are good nighttime baits as well when used at the right time. The best time for topwaters are right before the sun goes down, around midnight and again about an hour before sunrise. They are better on moonlit nights than on dark ones. Buzzbaits, chuggers and plastic frog imitations are good topwaters for night fishing.
The most productive areas are long points that slope slowly into the old river channel, rock piles and humps and shallow flats next to deep water. Stealth is very important when night fishing because the fish are shallow and spooky. Unnatural noises should be kept to a minimum.
The big lakes that require boats are not the only productive places to night fish for summer bass. Farm ponds and small lakes may be the best places to try. Farm pond bass love a frog-imitating topwater fished near lilly pads, laydowns or weedlines or plastic crawfish worked slowly on the bottom.
Night fishing for bass is an exciting and relaxing way to fish and a June night is a great time to try it.