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Fishing for bass at night is some of the most fun you can have on the water. As the spring fades into summer and the lakes become crowded with pleasure boaters, the bass wrap up their spawning process, and it can become increasingly difficult to catch them during the day. In this post-spawn phase, many bass move offshore, and the fish that stay shallow become increasingly less active as water temps rise rapidly and the bass seek shelter from the sweltering heat.

But there is a way to skirt all of these issues while escaping summer’s heat yourself and still catching plenty of bass—and that’s by fishing at night. Here’s everything you need to know.

Bass Fishing at Night: Table of Contents

  • Why Fish for Bass at Night
  • How to Fish for Bass at Night
  • Best Baits for Night Bass Fishing
  • Go Dark When It’s Dark
  • Go Natural Around Lights

Why Fish for Bass at Night?

photo of big bass caught at night
The author hoists an 8-pound-plus largemouth caught with a buddy after dark. Shaye Baker

With fewer boats on the water at night and cooler air temperatures to boot, night fishing is already a solid option for anglers who look at Sea-Doos with disdain and would rather not lather on five coats of SPF-50 throughout the day. But there’s more to it than that: Bass often bite better at night once the water temperatures rise, especially fish in shallower water.

Bass are cold-blooded, of course, which means that their environment regulates their bodily functions and dictates their moods. Many anglers know this when it comes to fishing in the winter, understanding that bass are much more lethargic and slow to react in colder water. But a similar slowdown occurs in the summer, when shallow bass become less active in water temps in the upper 80s and 90s.

Once darkness falls, the shallows become a touch cooler, and the bass are no longer sitting under a massive heat lamp of the bright sun. As a result, they become more active and will do a good bit of their feeding at night. Bass tend to group up at night as well, not only on the same humps and ledges where you can find them together during the day, but also around dock lights, where bugs and small baitfish lure bass in by the dozens to feed. In other words, bass fishing at night is often just the best way to catch more and bigger fish when it’s hot outside.

How to Fish for Bass at Night

photo of author with a trophy largemouth
The author with another lunker nighttime bass. Shaye Baker

The best advice and tactics for bass fishing at night can range widely based on the type of bass you’re targeting and the location. But there are some overall themes that work well for a variety of species and throughout the country.

For starters, make sure you have some light sources with you. Headlamps, small flashlights, and interior boat lights can all be extremely useful when tying on lure lures and bringing a fish to the boat. That said, you want to refrain from shining the lights in the water as much as possible. Though bass like dock lights that are fixed in one location, flashlights and headlamps bouncing around and shining on the water are likely a detrimental distraction from your lure.

Casting at night can be quite challenging, especially if there’s no moon out. On a bright night, you can see the bank nearly as well in the dark as you can in the daytime. But on dark nights, baits can end up in the bushes quite easily. If you’re fishing offshore, you’ll be able to rely on your electronics. But if you’re fishing the bank, try to avoid looking at your phone, graphs, or other bright lights so that your pupils aren’t constantly dilating. And looking down the bank instead of directly at it seems to help as well, using your peripheral vision to see the shore.

Best Baits for Night Bass Fishing

photos of top lures for bass fishing at night
Dark-colored spinnerbaits and chatterbaits work well in the dark of night. Shaye Baker

There are some basic ideas when it comes to bait selection for night fishing as well. If you fish muddy water regularly, you’ll notice lots of parallels. In water with low visibility, anglers rely on sound and vibration to draw the attention of bass to a bait. In the dark, the same methods work well. So buzzbaits on top and big bladed spinnerbaits or chatterbaits under the surface work really well, as two examples.

Go Dark When It’s Dark

Though it may seem counterintuitive, dark colors work best when fishing in the dark. Most bass baits for night fishing are black, often with some accent color like chartreuse, blue, or red. It seems like white or lighter baits would show up better. But the darker baits apparently create better profiles in the water for the bass to target. This is in the dark, mind you. When you’re fishing around artificial lights, you’ll want to change things up.

Go Natural Around Lights

Bass that are feeding around dock lights at night can see very well. So you’ll want to pull back from the loud and aggressive buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, and chatterbaits, and instead select small, natural-color baits that mimic the baitfish that are feeding on bugs around these lights. So anything from fishing a shakyhead on the bottom to a shallow-running crankbait can be used to target these fish that are feeding on bream, bluegill, shad, and other bait.

So, this summer, take advantage of the cool and serene evenings as the sun sets, air temps drop, and the bulk of the pleasure boaters head for the ramp. Look for bass to group up or roam around the same spots at night that you’d expect to see them during the day. Use dark-colored, commotion-creating baits when fishing in the dark and smaller, more natural presentations when fishing around lights. If you do this, you’ll find that you can have a lot of fun and loads of success bass fishing at night.

FAQs

Q: What is the best bait for bass at night?

Low visibility situations, like night fishing, call for fishing baits with sound and vibration. This helps draw in bass that can’t see the lure. Productive baits for night fishing include buzzebaits, spinnerbaits, and chatterbaits.

Q: What is the best color was bass fishing at night?

Anglers should fish darker colors at night to create visible profiles in the water. This is the same as fishing muddy water. The darker or more stained the water is, the darker the baits should be. Black is a great choice of color for night fishing.

Q: Do bass bite topwater at night?

Yes. Bass will crush topwater lures at night, and it is a great idea to throw some sort of surface bait after the sun goes down. These baits create a lot of noise and attention, drawing bass to the surface.