Making that transition — from day to night fishing — requires getting your fishing tackle and fishing equipment all ready for some nocturnal bassin’.
Everything must be in perfect working order and you must be well organized, to help you achieve your goal. Which is, a night of fishing on Lay Lake with very little frustration and catching some nice bass.
Getting your boat ready for night fishing also requires just as much attention as you would give to your fishing rods, reels and fishing tackle. Anything left to chance, can and will happen.
Anglers that do decide to make a change (from day to night fishing for the next 3-4 months of summer) will also see, getting themselves ready for a long, sleepless night of fishing, requires a few changes as well.
So how does an angler make sure he/she has everything in perfect working order, to even hope of having a chance at successfully chasing down those little green fish…during the nocturnal hours?
Its easy. Just take it one step at a time.
YOUR FISHING TACKLE AND YOUR EQUIPMENT
Looking at most of today’s “avid anglers arsenals” you can assume each an every angler (even bank fisherman) employ the use of more than one rod and reel outfit.
Some anglers, like bass tournament anglers, may have as many as a dozen rods rigged and ready on any fishing excursion, especially when being prepared for a major bass tournament on Lay lake, where time is money.
Rigging rods all day (or even worse, all night) is time consuming. The angler that simply has to reach for another rod already rigged and ready, will always have more time to out fish an angler in the same boat. One that is not well prepared.
So, if you are an angler with only one rod and reel outfit, its time for an upgrade. Maybe its time to invest in, or at least find a way to somehow attain four to seven quality rod and reel outfits. (Got a birthday coming up?)
There is always an upcoming holiday like Fathers Day, Mothers Day, Valentines Day or Christmas…so hint around! You need more than one rod and reel. Especially if your getting ready for night fishing!
Having at least five rods already rigged and ready and knowing where everything is in the boat, means there will be less time spent rambling in the dark for items such as sinkers, jig heads, hooks and various types of lures.
So get organized prior to your pre-planned night fishing trip.
Even certain sizes of lures or certain lure types may require a certain size hook. Or when you are spending time looking for a pair of nail clippers, scissors, or a pair of needle nose pliers to cut fishing line, or just a flash light consider this;
This is time spent doing unnecessary things, when actually you could be fishing!
Fishing for bass, especially some of the big largemouth bass you see in Alabama’s so well noted, “ Big Bass Lake, Lay Lake” requires considering the use of heavy tackle and strong line.
Like said, have at least five rods already rigged with lures you will fish from top to bottom, possibly all night long. Some rod and reel combos are different from others and often having several different types of rods and reels makes them more recognizable, even after dark.
* Keeping certain lures on certain rods keeps your mind trained to just automatically reach for the right rod and reel combination.
There are several types of quality rods and reels on today’s market that will as they say, “fit the bill” (or is it fill the bill?). Anglers getting ready for a night of bass fishing should consider having a few of their “five rod arsenal for night fishing” rigged with a certain type of lure.
Most importantly, the use of medium to heavy test line is suggested for each outfit.
Unless your good at telling those old tales (about the one that got away), I would suggest you leave the light tackle outfits at home. If you prefer this style of fishing bring along a few light tackle rods.
Unless your fishing around well lighted areas such as when night fishing around piers, boat houses, and marinas, you may not need light tackle outfits.
Usually in very clear water situations — fishing places with little or no cover for these bass to hang you up in requiring lighter line — most night fishing trips involves the use of heavier line and stought tackle outfits.
At least 14-15 pound test monofilament line and even heavier line up to the 25-30 pound test category (such as when using braided line) is suggested.
Loading your reels with various types of line can involve into many line types and lots of choices. This can be monofilament line, braided line or fluorocarbon line. Line choice is up to each individual angler. Considerations are many.
To make it simple we can assume most anglers fish with monofilament line. It is strong, mono has some line stretch (unlike braided line) and most mono has a little line memory. Monofilament line is always cheaper than the other two line types as well.
I would suggest having three rods rigged with 17-20 pound test line. The other two rods rigged with 14-15 pound test line. Berkeley Trilene Big Game monofilament line is as good a line choice as any.
Fluorocarbon line is suggested for daytime use in very clear water situations. It virtually disappears and cannot be seen by the bass. But during the nocturnal hours line visibility is not that much of an hindrance.
Braided line is an excellent line choice for night fishing, especially when sensitivity is transmitted with every move of the lure such as when fishing with Texas rigged worms, crayfish imitations, tube baits, creature baits, lizards or jig combos.
When these lures are drug through weeds, wood and rock cover using braided line transmits everything you feel. Including soft bites from those often very skittish night time bass!
Rod lengths and good rod backbone are important as well. You want to return home with five rods. Not four and one half rods! I suggest rigging 7 rods for having all lengths and actions.
You will need three long rods. One, seven foot medium action rod and two, seven and one half foot long, medium-heavy action rods.
You will also need two shorter rods. Both medium action rods in lengths of six to seven feet. (See: www.tigerodz.com for quality hand made rods, made right here in Alabama).
Maybe even a couple of pistol grip rods or short handled rods, in lengths of 6 to 6 1/2 feet / medium action.. These are great rods for fishing at night in tight quarters, such as around lighted piers.
Lure suggestions for fishing after dark could be a very lengthy list. Today’s lure market offers anglers hundreds of lure choices to tempt those little green fish with. Lures that work both during the day and at night, leave a lot of choices for anglers to consider.
Lure types and lure category are what’s important. Some lures work better than others for targeting bass after the sun goes down. Anglers can actually “clean out the boat” often eliminating a lot of lures they would select for fishing with during the day.
Then anglers can narrow it down to just a few lure selections, for a more simple and more organized lure selection for fishing with after dark! Labeling each and every box (and knowing where it is located in the boat), is important as well.
Deciding which depths to fish at night is just like when fishing during the day. Always refer to the old thought: top, middle and bottom and then apply your lure selection for fishing each depth.
Topwater Lures – When selecting a few topwater lures for night fishing consider weedless models and not so weedless models. There are a lot of aquatic weeds on Lay lake!
If fishing around aquatic weeds and wood cover you do not want to be throwing topwaters lures displaying 2-3 dangling treble hooks.
* Buzzbaits are weedless. So are frogs and rats. Zara Spooks and Jitterbugs are not.
* Buzzbaits can be fished right up in the weeds with a slow, steady retrieve that helps the bass track down the lure. Trailer hooks are suggested for short strikers.
* Frogs and rats can be fished around wood cover, weeds and even along rock bluffs.
* An old favorite topwater lure with a waddling action is the Jitterbug. I prefer the broke-back, black Jitterbug. I fish both the buzzbait and jitterbug on 20 pound test monofilament line. Black is the best color choice on all of these lures.
There are many lures to consider when fishing the middle water column. Some bass suspend in mid water depths as Lay lake’s surface waters become hot and stagment or the lakes bottom layer of water becomes low in oxygen.
These summertime bass can be suspended in four to five feet of water, or they can be found suspended in thirty feet to forty feet water at night.
Also they can be found cruising the shallows in one foot of water looking for an easy meal, often staying very shallow all night long.
Spinnerbaits would be my number one lure choice for finding bass at night. You can buzz them in shallow water for bass located near the water’s surface. Retrieve them slowly or slow roll them in the mid depths. Or allow them a chance to fall into even deeper water from the mid water column to much deeper water.
When fishing spinnerbaits along cover edges, vertical deep water drops, like those found along rock bluffs on the lower lake, dropping heavy spinnerbaits along wood cover such as lay down trees, or when slow rolling them around piers and boat houses, be ready for some rod-jarring strikes at night!
Heavy line, long rods and wide-spooled reels allow for long casts, better feel and a better hook set on bass you must feel for the strike at night, while using spinnerbaits.
Crankbaits, jerkbaits and lipless lures will fool bass at night too! Although many anglers would not even pack some of these lures for their night fishing excursion they make great lures for covering water fast and getting strikes from bass holding in the mid water column.
These types of lures all emit sound, create underwater vibrations and some even have some degree of flash from what ever light source is available at night. These type of lures can be fished on 6 -7 foot medium action rods using 14-15 pound test monofilament line.
Swimming a jig combo, dragging bottom with big worms, or using a semi-submerged floating worm, Senko or lizard, are deadly tactics at night.
Or even using one of today’s oversized swim baits or soft plastic jerkbaits, will also take bass holding in the middle water column at night. Use long, heavy action 7 foot (or longer), rods with 17-20 pound test monofilament line for these lures.
Worms, lizards, tube baits, sweet beavers, creature baits, Senkos, jig combos, crayfish imitations, finesse fishing with small plastics, grubs, shad imitations and even crappie jigs will all fool a big bass into biting at night.
Trophy Bass Hunters prefer using big worms, those measuring from 10 to 14 inches long. Or big 8 to 10 inch lizards. Oversized tube baits in lengths of 5-8 inches. Or oversized crayfish imitations.
Anglers choosing to fish with jig combos can be very creative by adding trailers such as small worms or big worms, crayfish, lizards or jig trailers such as plastic chunks or Uncle Josh pork trailers to the back ends of their rubber skirted jigs.
Adding rattles and fish attractants to your lures can entice otherwise cautious bass at night. After all if it looks good, sounds good, and even smells good, it has to taste good. Right?
Always use heavy tackle for these bottom fished lures whenever possible. They are big bass lures. More big bass are fooled on these type of bottom fished lures at night on Lay Lake than all other lures combined.
GETTING YOUR BOAT READY
As most anglers know safety is important both day and night. This means lights both fore and aft of the boat must be in good working order. Even spare bulbs are suggested.
You will need a spot light for running at night. Some anglers use a black light for seeing the bank when fishing at night. You will also need two flash lights, one for each angler or a spare in case one quits working.
Breakdowns can occur at a very inopportune time and there is never anything open late at night for parts or repairs for your boat or tow vehicle.
Make sure to check all batteries in the boat and maintain them to be fully charged. Always bring along jumper cables for emergencies. Also check you trailer tires and wheel bearings and replace if necessary. Oil for your outboard motor is a must.
* You might want to check the air in your spare tires for the boat and tow vehicle.
Live wells, bilge pumps, lights, and fish finders can drain a boats batteries at night. It is wise to bring a spare battery if possible. Also have spare props for both the outboard motor and the trolling motor.
Broken cotter pins and cables, or electrical problems can leave you stranded with break downs possibly a long way from the boat dock. Some anglers even bring a spare trolling motor and simply just change it out if a problem occurs.
Being prepared for a night of fishing involves getting your tackle, your boat and yourself ready…for anything!
Have fun this summer while night fishing Lay Lake for bass and practice safe boating. Always wear your life jacket and have your outboard motor kill switch attached.
Running lights must be on any time at night, its the law! Whether the boat is moving or not they must be burning. It might just save your life (or someone else’s life) in case of a preventable mishap. Keep them burning!
Always let loved ones at home know where you are. What lake you are fishing and what boat launch you will be launching at, and when to expect you home.
Cell phones can save lives. Always have one on board the boat for emergencies and leave the cell phone number with relatives. Just in case they need to get in touch with you.
Be safe, and be courteous to other boaters and anglers, and enjoy the serene and cooler nights of summer fishing for bass on Alabama’s Lay Lake. Or any Alabama Lake!
Above all…be prepared beforehand!