Monday, June 28, 2010

Night Fishing Largemouth Bass

The biggest hurdles to overcome with any night fishing are the casting and line management. All your casts will have to be done by feel. There is no turning your head to watch how your back cast is doing. The best practice is to stand out in an open yard blindfolded and flail about. The upside to this challenge is that it will make you a much stronger caster. You will be forced to cast correctly; by feeling the rod load and knowing when to bring the back cast forward and when to release the line to shoot it ahead on your final forward stroke.
Night fishing for bass is best after a warm summer day with no wind and few clouds…a bluebird day. The high amount of sunlight will keep the bass deep, or buried in the weeds. Once the sun has set they will come out (sometimes in very close to shore) and gorge themselves. Bass take about an hour to fully adjust to night vision. Their eyes function differently at night than during the day—it has to do with the rod and cone cells in the eye swapping dominance. They may be actively searching out food in the evening, but once the sun sets they will hunker down and wait for their vision to adjust before resuming the hunt. Although, if they had good hunting in the evening they may not be hungry enough to resume aggressive feeding after dark.
Bass will use their lateral line in conjunction with sight to help locate potential food at night. There is much confusion (among fishermen, not biologists) about how fish use their lateral line. The lateral line does not detect sound and certainly does not work like a bats’ radar…it is a complex and ultra sensitive area along the flank of a fish that picks up even the slightest water movement. A bass can feel when a bluegill moves its tail, or when a crayfish darts out from under a rock. Bass have good hearing, but prefer to use their sight to detect food…even at night. They need only a 100th of the light that we humans do to detect motion. This allows bass to see quite well, especially when there is abundant mood light.
Fishing from a boat or float tube is ideal, because they allow for easier mobility and they get you away from shoreline obstacles to snag. If you are shore bound, the best night-time bass spots are along rock and rip rap dams that you are very familiar with during daylight hours. Knowing where the deep (and shallow) water is and where the obstacles are (both in and out of the water) is essential. Always bring a small head lamp, don’t keep it on all the time, only when you are navigating your way from one spot to the next, tying on your fly or checking your fly for snagged weeds. Do the weed check religiously after every other cast even if you haven’t felt the fly hang up on the bottom…many long dry spells in the fishing have had this to blame. Bring a small pack with only the essentials in it: head lamp, half dozen bass flies, one spare leader, heavy tippet spool and nippers. The less you have the less you can loose and the easier it will be to locate the stuff you need in the dark. And slow, steady retrieves are paramount. A bass can track and hit a fast moving fly during the day quite easily, because it can see it. On a dark night a bass has to rely more on its lateral line.

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