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Nighttime Lunkers: Fishing For Bass At Night

For most anglers, lake fishing during the day in warmer months can be frustrating. Bobbing in the wake of jet skis and slathering on sunscreen really aren’t enjoyable, and with more traffic on the lake, it’s not as easy to find that perfect, quiet fishing spot. But for bass anglers, there’s an alternative. In warm weather, fishing for bass at night can be peaceful and productive.

And anyway, the truth is that bass will be more active and more likely to hit your live bait or lure during the night in the warmer months. Because they are cold-blooded, bass do a lot of their warmer-month feeding at night, as water temperatures drop when the scorching sun goes down.

There are, though, some tricks and techniques for successful fishing for bass at night. Read on to learn more about how to bring in lunkers after the sun goes down.

fishing for bass at night

Lighting for Lunkers

Obviously, you’ll need some sources of light to see what you’re doing while fishing for bass under the stars. Wearing a headlamp can help you see what you’re doing, from attaching a lure to your line to reeling in your catch.

If you think a headlamp is a bit much, stowing a miniature flashlight in your tackle box is a good alternative. And, if your boat has some interior lighting, don’t hesitate to use it.

Some words of caution are in order, though. When using lights while fishing for bass at night, don’t move around too much, and don’t shine your light into the water. Both of those things can spook any nearby bass and ruin your chances of bringing in any lunkers.

Bass Fishing with a Blacklight

If you’re of a certain age, you may remember having a blacklight in your bedroom to bring lively illumination to posters on your walls. Well, it turns out that blacklights can also help with angling, to the point that some blacklights are made specifically for fishing.

Pair a boat-mounted blacklight with some blue fluorescent monofilament fishing line, and you can see where your casts are landing. Also, bass will be able to see the softly glowing line and may be prompted to swim toward it.

Best Places to Find Bass at Night

Some good news about fishing for bass at night is that you likely won’t have to get too far from shore. One of the best places for fishing for bass at night is where the bottom rises from a dropoff into a few feet of water.

That most likely means you’ll be fishing close to shore. However, it’s worth taking time to do some advance scouting of the lake’s contours with a fish finder/depth finder.

Spending a little time taking a deeper look at your fishing waters could reveal other places where the bottom contour fits the underwater terrain preferred by bass.

Look for Low Light

As you scout possible locations for bass fishing at night, keep an eye out for places where subtle lighting falls on the water. Bass need at least some light to accurately track and catch baitfish.

Docks, piers, and marinas will typically be lit up subtly during the night. If you can get close enough to those structures while staying out of danger, you’re likely to reel in some bass.

Best Lures for Fishing for Bass at Night

You can certainly use live bait for fishing for bass at night, as long as moonlight or other light sources will sufficiently illuminate it. However, rigging your line with live bait can be a challenge in the dark. So, we’ll concentrate here on the best lures for bass fishing at night.

Before you head out to fish for bass at night, it’s a good idea to decide which lures you want to have with you. And, if there’s room on your boat, you might want to take a couple or three rods already outfitted with different lures. Doing so will increase your chances of success and also save time.

Read on for a look at some of the lures you should consider having with you whenever you are fishing for bass at night.


Whatever you do to get ready for bass fishing at night, do not leave the shore without one or more chatterbaits. Also called bladed jigs, chatterbaits get their name from a bladed section at the front of the lure. That feature produces vibrations from the lure as it moves through the water.

During daylight, the bladed section also reflects sunlight, but chatterbaits remain particularly effective at night because of the vibrations they produce. Those vibrations serve to attract bass in the dark when their vision isn’t at its best.

Another advantage of chatterbaits is that they are not as likely to get hung up in vegetation as some other lures. That’s a good feature for a nighttime fishing lure when an angler can’t be 100% sure of what is underwater where their line is cast.


If you don’t already have a chatterbait or two or three in your tackle box, chances are you do have some spinnerbaits. Spinnerbaits work best when slowly retrieved from the water, which allows bass time to detect the vibration of the lure’s spinner in the water.

For best results with a spinnerbait, use one with a single Colorado-type spinner attached. The Colorado spinner will maximize the lure’s vibration as it moves through the water.

Topwater Lures

Fishing for bass at night is the perfect opportunity to use any of the various types of topwater lures. Each type of topwater lure features different actions at or near the water surface.

Buzzbaits, for example, include a propeller-type blade to create noise and vibration to attract bass. Popper lures, on the other hand, feature a cupped front section that creates a popping sound as they are retrieved.

Another type of topwater lure, a “walking bait,” is long and skinny and moves erratically when being retrieved to attract the attention of nearby bass. Jitterbugs have a concave front with an attached angled metal lip that produces a distinctive wobble during retrieval.

Glow-In-The-Dark Lures

You probably have the completely reasonable belief that glow-in-the-dark lures should be in your tackle box when heading out to fish for bass at night. And, of course, you’re absolutely correct.

There is, though, a trick to picking the best glow-in-the-dark lures for fishing for bass at night. Be sure to get lures that mimic the size and shape of baitfish to which bass normally are attracted.

Glow-in-the-dark baits with shapes like minnows, shiners, and shad are good bets. You might also try luminescent lures that look like shrimp grub worms, which many bass anglers use as live bait.

Soft Plastic Lures

The soft plastic lures that you probably already have in your tackle box can be used for fishing for bass at night. However, you’ll have to engage in some experimentation before you can be sure you’ve attached the right plastic lure to your line.

Take a chance with a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes within your existing stock of plastic lures. Alternatively, take a trip to your local sporting goods or outdoor equipment store and pick a variety of new plastic lures to try.

Some of the plastic options to consider for your nighttime arsenal of lures for fishing for bass at night include Senko-style stick baits and tube lures. You’ll also want to try paddle-tail lures, which mimic the action of injured baitfish.

Other plastic lures for fishing for bass at night include “creature baits,” which resemble small crawfish and other creatures that serve as bass food. Other plastic lures to try include grub worms and curly-tail worms.

These plastic lures are relatively inexpensive, and many come in packages featuring multiple colors. As you experiment with plastic lures, you’re likely to find that many of them will work exceptionally well when fishing for bass at night.

Match the Moonlight

Whatever kind of lure you decide to try when fishing for bass at night, you should match that lure’s color to the moonlight. On nights with heavy cloud cover and/or little to no moonlight, choose a lure with solid black, brown, or blue coloring.

Perhaps counterintuitively, darker lures become more visible, not less visible, to fish in low-light conditions. Bass, like other fish, have better night vision than humans. For a bass at night, a dark lure will appear like a silhouette against the water.

If you’re fishing for bass at night under a bright moon or on a clear starry night, you should choose brightly colored lures. Combinations of green and orange or red and chartreuse work particularly well.

When the night sky is partially cloudy, you should also choose colored lures, but in color combinations that feature dark colors along with red, blue, or green elements.

fishing for bass at night

Best Gear for Fishing for Bass at Night

When selecting your gear for fishing for bass at night, you need to think about strength. Because bass will generally weigh from 4 to 8 pounds or more, you’ll need a durable rod, reel, and line. For your rod, plan on a medium-heavy model paired with a fast-action baitcasting reel.

Your rod should be between 6.5 feet and 8 feet long, and the reel should carry either braided or monofilament line. Whichever line you choose, it should have either monofilament or braided line with an 8-pound-test rating.

If you’ll be fishing with live bait or with lures that don’t already have a hook attached, you should plan on using a heavy hook. Hooks from sizes 4 to 6 should do well when fishing for bass at night.

Slow Your Roll When Fishing for Bass at Night

If you’re new to fishing for bass at night, you’ll likely need to adjust the speed at which you retrieve your lure after casting. Many lures work by creating a vibration in the water, and slow retrieval will give the bass time to discern the direction of the vibration.

Additionally, bass don’t see too well at night and often sense lures only as a silhouette in the water. That’s another reason to reel your line in slowly, to give the bass time to see your lure as a possible baitfish.

How to Fish for Bass at Night Frequently Asked Questions

As you might have guessed already, there’s a lot to learn about how to fish for bass at night. Read on for answers to some frequently asked questions about nighttime angling for the popular and challenging gamefish.

Does the phase of the moon affect fishing for bass at night?

The night hours undoubtedly are a productive time to fish for bass. But one of the most nagging questions about after-dark lunker angling is whether your luck is affected by the phases of the moon.

Believe it or not, both angling experts and others have conducted serious studies on this issue. An overall conclusion is that moon phases might affect bass fishing, but only on large bodies of water where the moon affects tidal action.

Solunar theory

However, there is something called solunar theory, which contends there are times during each day when the moon’s pull on Earth’s waters enhances fishing luck. Some anglers rely on readily available solunar tables to plan their bass fishing hours.

It’s believed that fish are typically more active two days before a full moon and two days after, thus increasing your chances of big catches.

Take your own notes

As of yet, no studies have been done to determine how much of the moon’s gravitational pull is required to potentially affect bass fishing.

In the end, it’s a toss-up as to whether moon phases will have any effect on your luck in fishing for bass at night. So, don’t worry too much about the moon phases for your nighttime bass fishing.

However, you might want to take notes to document your own experience and use them to plan when you go fishing for bass at night.

What are some tips for being safe when fishing for bass at night?

Fishing for bass at night ensures that you won’t have to deal with daytime issues like boat wakes and general noise and commotion. But fishing for bass at night does carry its own safety concerns.

For one, being on a boat at night means it’s more likely you’ll trip over something and possibly fall into the water. For that reason, it’s best to always be wearing a personal flotation device while fishing for bass at night.

Also, if your boat is equipped with navigation lights, they should remain on at all times while you’re on the water. Even if your boat doesn’t have navigation lights, there are recommendations for lights designed to attract fish that can also make your boat more visible.

Finally, it’s a good idea to use a headlamp when you’re moving around the boat, attaching lures to your line, or handling other angling chores. Just be careful not to shine your headlamp into the water any more than necessary.

What time is best to be in place for night fishing for bass?

When you’re fishing for bass at night, you need to be on the water — and preferably, already in your spot — a couple of hours before sundown. That will give you plenty of time to rig your fishing line and to arrange lures and other bait for easy access when night falls.

And, particularly if you’re fishing in a new area, arriving before nightfall will allow you to survey your fishing area for any near-surface obstructions. Be on the lookout for rocks, vegetation, and other features that could become problematic after the sun goes down.

You should, though, be prepared to wait until at least 10 p.m. before seeing any activity from bass. It isn’t until then that bass will arrive at the locations where they’ll be doing their night feeding.

That won’t be a particular problem in the summer when sundown doesn’t come until 8 p.m. or later. But in the winter, with the sun going down earlier, fishing for bass at night may be more chore than fun.

fishing for bass at night

Wrapping up Nighttime Lunkers: How to Fish for Bass at Night

Now that you’ve learned about fishing for bass at night, you’re ready to hit your favorite fishing spot as the sun starts going down. Keep at it, and the night hours might just become your favorite — and most productive — time to go after the popular game fish.

While you’re waiting for nightfall, take some time to browse Life in Minnesota for a wealth of information on fishing in the state. You’ll find all kinds of information, including a guide to the best bass fishing lakes in Minnesota, and the best bass fishing lures. Good luck with the lunkers!