Art Lander’s Outdoors: As hot weather sets in, some of Ky’s best black bass fishing happens after sunset

(Photo from Bass Fishing Facts)

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

The night bite can start as early as the end of May and continues through September, depending on the weather.

After the spawn, bass come out of the creeks onto the main lake to escape the heat, moving into progressively deeper water as summer heats up. In lakes that are busy with recreational boaters and water skiers during the day, bass will actively feed at night once the waters quiet down. They often venture into shallow water, near the deep water where they spend the day.

Here’s some general observations about night fishing for black bass:

• The best fishing is usually in clear water conditions.

• Moon phase matters. The darkest nights usually offer the best fishing, especially in lakes with ultra clear waters.

Night fishing for bass from a kayak (Photo by Erich Schlegel)

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

• Avoid fishing brightly lit shorelines.

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

• Rig your bass boat or fishing kayak with a fluorescent tube or LED black light, which require 12-volt DC power, and may be gunnel-mounted, with suction cups, or rail mounted.

Some angles also equip their boats with green lights, which light up the banks brighter, which is helpful when pitching or flipping jigs tight to target cover. The green lights don’t spook bass as fish see in the green spectrum of light.

For more information visit www.tablerockblacklights.com.

• Spool your reels in fluorescent line which glows under a black light.

• Wear a small light on an elastic headband. Only turn it on when tying on a lure or unhooking a fish.

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

Since bass home in on noise, a steady retrieve usually works best, especially when fishing a surface lure, or a floating/diving crankbait that imitates a wounded baitfish.

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

Hair Jigs A Top Night Fishing Lure at Dale Hollow Lake

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

Largemouth Bass (Photo from Wikipedia Commons)

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

Smallmouth bass gradually move out into deeper water as the summer progresses, from 15 to 25 feet of water in June, as deep as 30 to 35 feet by August. Some angles switch to heavier bait casting tackle as the fish go 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-tail grub or other soft plastic)

Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for the Northern Kentucky Tribune. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.

Some angles make slight color changes based on the moon phase. They fish darker colored jigs like black and blue or black and red on the dark of the moon. As the amount of moon light increases, they fish lighter colors, such as brown and orange or green and orange.

During the bright phases of the moon fish banks that are shaded, not in bright moonlight.

An effective jig retrieve is to cast it out and let it settle to the bottom, then pick it up, and shake the rod tip to give the jig some action, and let it fall again. Repeat this pattern all the way back to the boat.

Spooling reels in fluorescent line is especially important when fishing a jig because it glows under a black light, and you have to be able to see what the line is doing when the lure is falling or it’s on the bottom. Strikes may be very subtle, usually a series of light taps. Sometimes bass will move off with the jig in its mouth, creating telltale line movement.

Early in the summer concentrate on small flats which have rooted aquatic vegetation growing up from them. Quality fish seem to prefer the aquatic vegetation in deeper water.

Later in the summer, target main lake humps, and river channel ledges. Position your boat over (the submerged) channel, and cast up onto the ledge. Don’t overlook rocky points and areas with stumps and brush.

It’s an understatement to say that night fishing for bass is an adventure. Fish slow, methodically, and hang on. Hooking into a quality-size black bass in the daylight is exciting enough. Just imagine that experience in near-total darkness.

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