The dark side of bass angling

2010-02-27 00:00

AS promised, this week I will be outlining which part of your approach you will need to change in order to capitalise on catching bass during the dark hours. As you now know, bass feed heavily at night so why not catch them? This could be your opportunity to fish big baits and elicit explosive strikes from these opportunistic predators. Although anglers with access to waters after dark will benefit most from this, all bass hunters should at least take note so when you do have the opportunity, you are ready.

First things first: how does a bass’s behaviour and position change when the lights are turned off? Well, their aggression levels increase as hunt mode takes over and because of their change in attitude, they instinctively move shallower in the water column, gravitating towards the banks. Not all the banks become productive. Naturally the shorelines with deep water access nearby in the form of a drop-off or river channel will become prime spots. Remember a big bass will not spend all its time lurking in the shallows, but will spend most of its time in deeper water, moving to the banks to feed when the time is right. So focus on banks with a deep water retreat if you are fishing from the bank. If you have access to private water from a boat at night, then I would also look for points or flats that relate to deeper channels, although most private waters are reasonably small, so focusing on the banks is a sure and safe option. My favourite after-hours cover is definitely vegetation. Even in the dark, bass still use the tactic of ambushing their prey, making vegetation such as lily pads and weed beds deadly areas. Timber also holds fish at night, but make sure you look for the bushiest trees available. When it comes to choosing the right night for your expedition, worry about yourself, not the bass. They are going to feed irrespective of most conditions or available light. For your own benefit, pick a night on or around full moon, so that you can see what you are doing and where you are casting. A night free of rain and wind will also add to the enjoyment, and apart from being warmer, summer nights are the most productive.

So you’ve braved the dark, chosen your spot and are ready for action. What lures are you going to use? I know what you are thinking: the brightest lure possible. Wrong. There is one colour for night-time bassing and that is black. Black does not absorb light and rather causes the light intensity to increase around the profile of the bait and therefore creates a larger silhouette in the moonlight for the bass to hone in on. Even on the blackest night, this principle remains.

The top-producing baits are big and noisy: buzz baits, horny toads, jigs and ribbontail worms are all killers. However, my favourite after- dark lure is a black spinnerbait with a single gold Colorado or Indiana blade. You want to fish these baits in your selected areas by concentrating on the upper parts of the water column. The bass will be orientated towards the surface and feeding into light from above. This makes a struggling noisy topwater or throbbing spinnerbait an easy accomplishment for a weary bass. Don’t slow down too much at night and don’t think they can’t see your bait. Fish fast and with determination. I am hoping to receive an influx of night- time bass stories from readers.

On the tackle side , Craig from The Fish Eagle in Victoria Road in Pietermaritzburg advised me that the latest range of Picasso Spinnerbaits has hit the shelves. All my favourite Spinnerbaits are now available for the taking. So get out on the lake and catch some bass, and remember to release your catch alive to prolong the sustainability of our resource.

E-mail me with reports, pictures and questions at

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