The dog days of summer are upon us in Austin, Texas. With temperatures soaring into the 100-plus range, it becomes very difficult to be on the water past ten or eleven o’clock in the morning. This makes for a great time to gather up your fishing buddies and hit your favorite lake for a good old moonlit bass session.
Bass can be extremely active at night. With fewer anglers on the water, bass do not feel the pressure they would during the day, making the possibility of a 100-plus catch fishing trip well within reach on any given night.
The regular season for KATS has wrapped, but we are lucky to have a local nighttime series called TNT, Thursday Night Tournaments, run by YAKUSA. This year they brought back Dusk Til Dawn, a longtime central Texas favorite. This marathon night fishing tournament runs almost twelve hours, and is a true test of your angling skills, endurance, and awareness.
Twelve hours on the water is extreme, but the preparations I made for this tournament can be utilized for any night fishing expedition. The Hobie Pro Angler is the ultimate night fishing vessel. The comfort of the Vantage ST seat, the revolutionary MirageDrive 180, spaciousness of cargo areas, and the ability to easily make modifications to meet and exceed nighttime safety regulations makes the Hobie Pro Angler my number one choice.
Safety first is a phrase we hear regularly in many circles, but should echo loudly when you choose to hit the water at night. The importance of wearing your PFD, being visible, heightening your sense of awareness for the critters and crawlies of the night, packing ample snacks and hydrating fluids, and having insect repellent on hand are paramount for a safe and enjoyable night on the water. I wear light pants, a long sleeve shirt, fishing shoes, a Buff, and a hat to keep the bugs at bay.
I take being visible to the next level by adding SuperNova Fishing Lights LED packages to all of my Hobie kayaks on top of the legally required 360 degree light. A good quality headlamp with fresh batteries is an absolute must as well. Fishing at night exposes you to boats, snakes, spiders, and while not in my neck of the woods, alligators. Understanding the resident populations allows you to assess the risks to determine your safety level before getting on the water. This is why lighting is crucial to a safe excursion.
One of the beauties of preparing for nighttime fishing is that you can scale down your bait selection. This makes for easier access to baits, and prevents fumbling around in search of your 12-inch black Power Worms. I keep the color palette real simple, and stick to black, and black and blue baits.
My favorite soft plastics are big worms, craws, and Senkos, but I primarily throw the big baits in search of those monsters that are most catchable during the night. Slow dragging a big worm can be deadly as you feel the shape of each rock that it crawls over.
Jigs, jigs, and more jigs. The football and swim jig can be game changers at night. I have caught bass on eight consecutive casts with a black and blue swim jig. It agrees with the feeding nature of bass at night, and when they are on it, they absolutely hammer it. The football jig, creeped ever so slowly with subtle hops, can be deadly at times as well. Experiment with your jigs, trailers, and retrieves to unlock the puzzle.
Black and blue vibrating jigs have their place at night as well. The vibration can pull nearby bass to the bait, and load up the rod in impressive fashion. I absolutely love that bite.
There is absolutely nothing more exciting than a topwater explosion at night. The quiet of the night, and trance-like sounds of nature gets interrupted by the heart racing KABLOOSH of your favorite topwater getting inhaled by big momma bass. Frogs, buzzbaits, prop baits, and the newer class of topwater baits including ploppers all have their place at night. I keep my color selections the same as above, and vary my retrieve until I find the money cadence.
Picking spots that you have had success in during the day often produces at night as well, but don’t be afraid to cover water. Moving at night to find productive areas can turn an ordinary night into a magical night.
The elephant in the room is how to keep your energy levels up while you’re whacking the bass at night. Rest prior to your outing is key, and if you can consume caffeine, strategically timed consumption can get your through the night, and safely home. I drank two energy drinks during Dusk Til Dawn. One at 1:00 AM, and one at 4:00 AM. This coupled with hydration, food, and the adrenaline rush of the catch carried me through the 7:30 AM finish line, awards ceremony, and the drive home.
My team finished in a tie for third at this year’s Dusk Til Dawn, a mere 2.25 inches out of first place. The bassathon gave me a sense of accomplishment similar to those that complete any kind of endurance race, and once again let me know why I love to fish. Night Lines… Tight Lines.
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