There’s a saying in fishing that says “Never leave fish to find fish.” I know this, and yet I still find myself doing it anyhow. For example, last week my buddy Matty and I started out on Thursday back at Cayuga Lake. It’s understandable, we’ve been averaging over 20 pounds for about a month now, but believe it or not I was actually getting bored. And after we hit the 20 pound mark again by noon, I was just done. So we set out on a mission to catch some brown fish for a change (smallmouth), and our journey took us first to Skaneateles Lake, then to Oneida, then Ontario. All we had to show for those three amazing bodies of water was two small bronze backs, a couple giant perch, and pretty nice walleye. Not what we were looking for. So we did what any sane person would do, and raced back to Cayuga to finish our day where we started (that’s right, it’s still Thursday). We arrived back at Union Springs with less than an hour of daylight when it occurred to me that this might be the perfect time for me to do the night fishing story that I’d been wanting to do for a couple weeks. And what we caught under that full moon was just heavenly.
For starters, there’s a reason why the big ones come out at night. Bass don’t become big by being stupid, and there are just fewer things for them to worry about at night, and there’s an abundance of food. It’s also much cooler (normally) and the drop in temperature can spike a need for them to eat. Bass don’t love the sun, which is why they’re almost always under docks. Tip: if you’re ever struggling on a lake, guaranteed you can find them under docks if you look under the right kind of docks, . But at night those fish are free to roam, there’s no sun for them to seek refuge from. So using reaction baits that move and make noise, you can catch some beautiful bass.
Sometimes I stop and think about when I started, fishing Lake Steere out of a small canoe with Finchy, or trolling with his pop. We caught some fish during the day, but we caught BIG fish at night, throwing jitterbugs and buzzbaits. We didn’t have expensive toys or gear, we just threw what we had at the shoreline and caught fish. These are the experiences that helped make me who I am today, even if I allow myself to forget sometimes until I find myself watching the sunset and feeling a giant hit my bait. It wasn’t like I planned it. We were on the outer weedline like we had been, fishing in 15 feet on the edge of 20 (a great summertime location for largemouth), when I noticed that the fish seemed to be hitting my Mendota Rig more often when I was moving it, rather than slowly popping it. Matty threw on a crankbait and caught one, so I tied on a new Yo-Zuri that I just got and the first cast, I brought in this:
Now, it was a lot darker than it looks. My GoPro Hero 4 Black when set to wide does an incredible job of finding as much light as possible. About 3 casts later, I caught this one:
And just two casts after that, I caught this beauty. My best all year.
These fish were coming in from the deeper water to feed at night. We were in shallower, casting to the deeper water, and when our baits would get caught up on the grass, we’d pop them through, let the bait rest for just a second, and then we’d get destroyed! That big one hit about two feet from the boat in the dark, and I thought it was going to break my rod. To be honest, I thought it was a huge Northern, but I could barely see until I got the light on it and saw it was a largemouth. After her I think we caught two or three more then nothing for about 40 minutes, but that’s normal. Whenever you fish for bass at night you have got to remember that they’ll stop eating around 15 minutes after sunset, and start up again once their eyes have adjusted. You don’t need to throw baits with lights or that glow in the dark. You just need stuff that makes noise, and you need to work it slow. Give the fish time to find it, and eat it. Right before and right after sunset, position yourself so that you can work both the deep water and the shoreline, and if you have to choose one or the other start deeper and work your way in. Once it’s been an hour or more you can focus on just the shoreline alone. Here’s the baits I was throwing. I was using a Dobyns Champion 765 CBGlass on the Yo-Zuri Crankbait, and a Dobyns Champion 763 on the Mendota Rig with Cortland Master Braid, 50lb.
I also want to mention that my POV light from SP Gadgets was killer for allowing us to get the shots we did at night! It also helps to use when trying to take treble hooks out of large fish in the dark. It’s a must have accessory for any GoPro user! Before I go, here are our four biggest from the morning at Cayuga that day before we ran all over NY chasing smallies!