LeBlanc: If the afternoon temps are too hot, try night fishing
With the heat and humidity and an occasional rain shower gracing our days, about all we can say is welcome to Southeast Texas. For those of us who were born and raised here, we can say it's summer one more time.
I guess some will point and make noises concerning ‘global warming’, but with me that falls upon deaf ears. What we are going through is just another of Mother Nature’s whims as you will see come and go if you live long enough. The one thing that we know for sure is as the weather heats up so will the water and soon the lake will stratify, as it does every summer, and the fish will be soon doing their survival balancing act in the thermocline.
Naturally, they can be caught during the extreme heat that we have coming, but it can take a lot of work. One possible solution to consider is fishing at night when the surface water will cooled down and some of the fish to become a little more active as they search for food.
Some anglers prefer fishing at night during the hot summer months because it is much more comfortable for them and there are fewer people on the water, making it more relaxing. Bass seem to react positively to the calm and feed when things settle down.
If in doubt as to when to start the night search, I would suggest that when the bass quit hitting during the daytime and when it becomes uncomfortably hot on the lake these are good signals that it's time to start night fishing.
Night fishing is usually always good on our lake, but when the water is in the mid 80’s and warmer, fishing can be better at night. The best time seems to be between 7 p.m. and full dark around 10 p.m. After all light disappears, you might consider a switch to a black worm.
If you are one who plans on fishing at night, you will have to make some changes to the methods used during the daylight hours. For instance, casting can get a little trickier in the dark, and an enhanced sense of feel must supplement your reliance on sight. Within an hour after sunset bass vision is well adjusted to the darkness, and they can see far better than you and I. Color is not as important as at certain times in the daylight hours, but shape and action are important.
At night, bass often move up shallower, where they feed on nocturnal forage such as crawfish, shad and anything else that moves, not to exclude small snakes. Having said that, medium diving crank baits as well as plastic worms are both good choices to start fishing. Running the brush and other structures with a crank bait or a six inch soft plastic will often pay off in big fish.
Night fishing is fun, but I would suggest some extra safety precautions. Our lakes are full of underwater structures such as stumps, lay downs and if the water is a little low the sand bars that were safely submerged in times past may be lurking at or near the surface, so if you are in a boat I would suggest you take your time getting from point A to point B on the lake and always wear your life jacket after dark.
Running lights are important for two reasons. First, they will help other boaters see you. Second, if your running lights are not working properly and the game warden sees you, you will be paying a hefty fine.
Locating the best places to fish for bass at night is a common dilemma faced by the night angler. In general, fish at night close to, but not on, the same places you caught fish earlier in the year. Bass don't move great distances in most situations. If you found good fishing in a big creek arm during the spring, move to the first available deep water and look for structures such as riprap, lay downs, channel drop-off, weed bed, lighted docks and etc.
As the summer wears on, the bass tend to move deeper into the thermocline and won't come up shallow, even at night, if the water gets up in the 90’s and does not have time to cool off.
With a lot of daytime boat traffic the boat traffic and waves beating the bank the fish seem to go deeper and don’t feed even late in the day. My best luck has been after midnight at those times. By that time of night the water has settled down and the fish start feeding.
Black bass is not the only fish in the lake. Many large catfish are caught after dark. If you see a lighted dock that you can get near you might just get into a mess of nice size crappie under that light.
So as the summer heats up everything — including the water — if you get a little uncomfortable with the sun beating down on you trying to dehydrate you, burn your skin, and prime you for future skin cancer you don’t have to give up fishing.
Be safe, drive slowly, wear your life jacket and give night fishing a try. I believe you will find it peaceful, fun and productive.