Usually in July, the weather’s hot and bass fishing slows down. So the very best time to fish for bass now is at night.
I don’t really like to go to 882-acre Bogue Homa Lake near Laurel until about 10 p.m., and I fish until daylight.
At night, the water’s cooler, there’s little if any fishing pressure and I’ll have an opportunity to catch a bass weighing 7 ½ pounds or better at this shallow lake.
When I fish for big bass, I like to use heavy tackle and big lures.
Plenty of standing timber and lily pads are in Bogue Homa. You’ll often misjudge the distance you cast at night and get hung up, but making casting errors is just part of exciting nighttime fishing.
I start fishing at the dam at night and fish all the way down the dam wall, next down the riprap on the east bank and then around the islands and the riprap from the swimming area to the boat ramp.
A boat lane goes through the middle of the cypress trees, and I fish down either side of that middle lane too.
However, mostly I fish the open shoreline.
I prefer to fish on a really dark night instead of a moonlit night, because I feel I get more strikes. I use red LED lights on the inside of my boat, and to see how to cast I’ll have either red or blue LED lights on the outside of my boat.
But I know the lake well, so most of the time I won’t turn on the lights.
I’ll have three rods prerigged with the three lures I want to fish.
For more years than I can remember, the black musky Jitterbug consistently has caught big bass at night, and it still produces today.
When a bass blows up on this topwater lure, you’ll get an adrenaline rush. The Jitterbug is a big bait, but I’ve learned that a 2-pound bass will attack that lure just as readily as a 7-pounder.
I fish the Jitterbug on 50-pound-test Trilene braided line with a medium-action Pinnacle rod to help give the bait to the bass when it strikes. A heavy-action rod might pull the Jitterbug away from a fish before it gets the lure in its mouth.
I use a 6.4:1 Pinnacle Primmus reel with its high gear ratio since I want to move the bass away from the cover as fast as possible.
I’ll cast the Jitterbug out, let it sit still for a few seconds and use a stop-and-go retrieve to make the Jitterbug go plop, plop. It also will leave a trail on the water’s surface to let the bass know where the lure is.
I’ll stop the bait, and often the bass will attack then. Because the strike on the Jitterbug is so vicious, you’ll react instantly by setting the hook; that’s why I like the medium-action rod with the braided line.
Put jelly on them
My second rod — a 7-foot, 6-inch medium-heavy Pinnacle with the same Primmus reel — will have a 12-inch Mann’s Jelly Worm that’s black with red flakes and 20-pound-test 100 percent Trilene fluorocarbon line.
Up the line, I put a 1/8-ounce weight, and I rig the worm Texas style and fish it slowly.
Some nights the bass won’t come up and take the Jitterbug on the surface, and that’s when I offer them Jelly Worm, fishing the same areas I’ve worked the Jitterbug.
I’ll also fish the worm on the little creek channels winding through the stumps and trees — often in no more than 2-3 feet of water.
When a bass takes a 12-inch worm, the fish might fold the worm over itself inside its mouth on the initial bite. So if you set the hook too fast, you’ll break the worm off in the bass’ mouth right behind the hook and fail to get a hook set.
After I feel the strike, I hesitate three or four seconds to let the bass move off with the worm and get it unfolded in its mouth for a better hook set.
Fish the jig
No matter the time of year or the place I’m fishing, I always have a black-and-blue Mann’s Stone jig with a black-and-blue trailer tied on one of my rods. I fish the jig as I did the Jitterbug and the 12-inch Jelly Worm.
I don’t get as many bites on the jig, but when do I get a bite I’ll generally catch a bigger bass than on the worm.
Expect exciting fishing
Bogue Homa has a 15-inch size limit. If I can catch 12 bass, I’ll feel I’ve had a good night.
I expect one of those bass to weigh 7 or 8 pounds, and the majority will be bigger than the 15-inch limit.