Art Lander’s Outdoors: As warm weather sets in, some of Ky’s best black bass fishing takes place after the sun goes down


(Photo by Bass Fishing Facts)

When the warm weather and bright sun sets in for summer, some of the best black bass fishing in Kentucky’s major lakes is often done at night.

The nocturnal sting can start as early as late May and continue until September, depending on the weather.

After spawning, bass emerge from streams on the main lake to escape the heat, moving into deeper and deeper water as the summer heats up. In lakes frequented by boaters and water skiers during the day, bass actively feed at night once the waters have calmed down. They often venture into shallow water, near deep waters where they spend the day.

Here are some general observations about black bass night fishing:

• The best fishing is usually in clear water conditions.

• The phase of the moon is important. The darkest nights usually offer the best fishing, especially in ultra clear lakes.

Kayak night bass fishing (Photo by Erich Schlegel)

• Be as quiet as possible while moving in the boat and use your trolling motor sparingly.

• Avoid fishing on brightly lit shores.

• Fish structure near deep water — overfalls, brush piles, stump beds, boat docks, rocky points and cliff lines.

• Install your bass boat or fishing kayak with a fluorescent tube or black LED light, which require 12 volt DC power and can be gunwale, suction cup or rail mounted.

Some anglers also equip their boats with green lights, which illuminate the banks brighter, which is useful for casting or flipping tight jigs to cover the target. Green lights do not scare bass as fish see in the green light spectrum.

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• Wrap your coils in fluorescent wire that glows under a black light.

• Wear a small light on an elastic headband. Only turn it on when you are attaching a lure or landing a fish.

• A wide variety of artificial lures catch largemouth bass at night, including unweighted soft plastics and surface lures.

Since bass is all about noise, a steady retrieve usually works best, especially when fishing a surface lure or a floating/diving lure that mimics an injured baitfish.

When the wind is blowing, a spinner bait is a good choice for largemouth bass.

Hair Jigs A Dale Hollow Lake Night Fishing Lure

On Dale Hollow Lake, the hair jig is particularly effective on quality smallmouth bass.

Largemouth Bass (Photo from Wikipedia Commons)

A good choice of tackle in early summer is a six and a half foot medium action spinning rod, with the spinning reel spooled in an eight to twelve pound trial line.

Smallmouth bass gradually move to deeper water as summer progresses, from 15 to 25 feet of water in June, to 30 to 35 feet in August. Some anglers switch to heavier bait casting gear as the fish sink deeper in late summer.

A popular color combination on the lake is a 3/8 ounce black and chartreuse hair jig, with a white trailer (curly tailed worm or other soft plastic)

Art Lander Jr. is outdoor editor for the Northern Kentucky Tribune. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University, and a hunter, fisherman, gardener, and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine reporter, and author and is a former editor of Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-editor of the Kentucky Newspaper Column. Afield Outdoors.

Some anglers make slight color changes depending on the moon phase. They fish darker colored jigs like black and blue or black and red on the blackness of the moon. As the amount of moonlight increases, they fish for lighter colors, such as brown and orange or green and orange.

During the bright phases of the moon, schools of fish are shaded, not moonlit.

An effective jig retrieve is to throw it and let it sink to the bottom, then pick it up and shake the tip of the rod to give the jig some action and let it sink. Repeat this pattern to the boat.

Fluorescent line reel spooling is especially important when fishing a jig because it glows under a black light and you need to be able to see what the line is doing when the lure drops or is on the bottom. Strikes can be very subtle, usually a series of light strokes. Sometimes the bass will go off with the jig in its mouth, creating a telltale line motion.

At the beginning of summer, focus on small apartments, on which rooted aquatic vegetation grows. Quality fish seem to prefer aquatic vegetation in deeper waters.

Later in the summer, target the bumps in the main lake and the ledges of the river channels. Position your boat above the channel (submerged) and launch it onto the ledge. Don’t overlook rocky points and areas of stumps and brush.

To say night bass fishing is an adventure is an understatement. Fish slowly, methodically, and hang in there. Hooking up a quality black bass in daylight is exciting enough. Imagine this experience in near total darkness.


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