Get up extra early to beat the heat

The four hours or so before sunrise are the best times to catch bass during the heat of summer.
The four hours or so before sunrise are the best times to catch bass during the heat of summer.

Night-fishing is the ticket to great bass fishing

August temperatures can be pretty rough on fishermen, and not just because of the heat. Lakes and rivers are full of recreational boaters, which can be as big a headache as 95-degree days with 80-percent humidity and no wind.

The fish don’t like them, and neither do you.

But instead of choosing air conditioning over crankbaits, former Bassmaster Classic champion Davy Hite has a few ideas — and most of them begin after dark.

“I love to fish at night,” Hite said. “Not only do you get to beat the heat and the boat traffic, it’s really your best chance to catch a big fish.”

Hite said bass don’t feed as much during the summer because they’re lethargic in water that’s relatively hot — even when it’s relatively deep — and when they do get active and run out for some fast food they tend to feed when the water is the coolest.

“And that’s in the last few hours before daylight,” he said.

Early does it

So instead of setting out just after dark and fishing until midnight, Hite prefers hitting the sack for a few hours and getting on the water between 1 and 2 a.m. for about four hours of fishing.

“At that time of night, virtually all of the recreational boat traffic is gone, it’s cooler and you get to fish until the time when day really breaks,” he said. “Then I can get home an hour or so after daylight, catch a two-hour nap and be able to function the next day.”

Hite starts with a standard summer pattern, looking for fish on deep, main-lake structure such as points, humps, bends along the river channel and docks close to deep water.

“You want to target the places with the best-available cover. You can start to catch fish on brush piles if you know where any of them are,” he said. “You’re not going to be fishing in the backs of creeks; that narrows down the places you have to fish.”

Choosing baits

Once he’s found a likely looking spot, he thinks big, dark and slow when it comes to choosing and fishing baits.

He wants a bait with a big, dark silhouette that bass can see as they look up to the surface. His two favorites are a black, 1/2-ounce mop jig with a creature-bait trailer and a black/blue flake, 7-inch Texas-rigged Senko under a 3/8-ounce bullet weight.

“At night, you can catch fish on just about anything you do during the daytime, but my first thought is to fish a big bait that will present a big silhouette and will draw a big bite,” Hite said. “I don’t think you’ll catch the big fish on topwater that you will at night on a jig or a Senko.”

He also doesn’t cover as much water in the darkness as he would during the daytime.

“I fish more slowly at night than during the day,” Hite explained. “I think fish need a little extra time to find your bait.

“The other thing I do is add scent to my baits. It’s a personal thing, but it’s not going hurt and it might help fish locate them.”

One thing Hite advises all fishermen to have is a topwater bait tied on a rod on deck, because the best time to catch a big fish on topwater is in the hour or so before daylight — the last hour or so of his night-fishing forays.

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About Dan Kibler 115 Articles
Dan Kibler is managing editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has been writing about the outdoors since 1985.