When the sun sinks low in the west, the monsters come out to prowl after spending the day buried in grass or their deep-water haunts. August is one of the hottest months of the year and many anglers have already vacated the water for the cooler confines of their homes. There is an alternative to putting those rods up too soon, however, and a few avid anglers are taking advantage of the hot weather.
When the sizzling hot weather cuts down on most daytime fish activity you can be sure that the bass still feed, just not during the hottest part of the day. Many anglers head to the lake about an hour before dark and get to their spots as the sun fades away in the west. Yes, the big bass will come out to play as the sun goes down as they search for a late afternoon snack or easy nighttime meal.
Some of my best fishing trips have occurred between sundown and midnight as the bass actively feed where they can find baitfish. Some of the same places that hold bass during June and July will come alive after dark as they move up onto the ledges, shallow flats and points. If the bait is there the bass will eat heartily and strike lures more aggressively.
Many anglers prefer topwater fishing at night and buzz baits, Prop baits and lures like the old faithful black jitterbug make just enough racket to draw bites and entice explosions from otherwise wary lunker bass. It doesn’t matter if you see or hear any topwater activity, one bite could come from the biggest bass you’ll ever catch. I’ve quite more than a few bass on black jitterbugs and black and red buzz baits after the sun goes down.
A word of caution when fishing buzzbaits and topwaters: Be aware that explosive strikes may occur at any point from the end of your cast until the last turn of the handle by the boat. If the fish strikes hard and gets hooked, then you can drive the hook deep and fight him. You should never set the hook on the basis of the sound as the bass may miss the lure and you just might impale your fishing partner or yourself with those sharp hooks. When they smash it after dark you will feel them almost instantly and that’s when you set that hook. A second before might mean missing the bass of a lifetime or a trip to the emergency room to remove the hooks.
More often than not the bass will move up on those ledges and stay close to the top of the humps, drops and brush piles. If they’re not chasing bait up on top, then they’re usually feeding below the surface, and they will strike almost anything you put in front of them.
Texas rigs and Carolina rigged worms are usually good choices that the bass can’t turn down. If you work the ledges, you’ll usually find the bass either on top of the ledges near wood cover or right off the edge of the drop offs.
On more than one occasion I have caught lunker bass on 9- to 12-inch worms rigged Texas style while working the drop offs and brush piles on top of the offshore humps. Whether you are fishing public or private waters it matters not. The fish will hold on some of the same spots, and they are susceptible after dark.
If you’re fishing smaller waters the bass may prowl the shallow waters but typically they will be found where the shad or baitfish are and that usually means along the edge of grass lines or drop off areas. No matter what size lake you are fishing there will always be areas that bass like to move into after dark. Find their preferred locations and you will be able to catch bass in those same areas as long as the weather stays hot.
In addition to fishing the first three hours after sundown, the second-best time that I have found is about an hour before daylight until the sun peaks over the horizon. For some reason the bass just seem to feed more actively right after dark and just before daybreak.
Grab a couple of bags of black- or grape-colored worms, a couple of your favorite topwater lures and head to the nearest lake after dark and you might just have the best trip of your summer. I know that I have tried it and caught some of the biggest bass of my life.