By: Curt Snow of Night Owl Charters - RI, USA
Night fishing. It's not something that we hear a lot about when it comes to fishing for largemouth or smallmouth bass. There aren't many articles written about it and there surely aren't any instructional videos for sale through any major outlets!
But there is a small, hardcore group of bass anglers throughout the world that love to pursue bass after dark. They give up sleep to chase bucket mouth bass of large proportions by the light of the night sky, hoping to connect with the bass of a lifetime.
I am one of those hardcore anglers. I thrive on night fishing during the summer months. In fact, I am so passionate about night fishing for bass, I run a guide service to teach others how to catch bass after dark. Night Owl Charters. Fitting name, isn't it?
During the past 25 years I have spent thousands of hours on the water, after the sun has set, making cast after cast in search of the biggest bass in the lakes that I fish. I'm talking about bass that don't get caught during the daylight hours because they prefer to feed at night.
During these past 20+ years, I've been fortunate enough to land largemouth bass up to 9 ¼ lbs. And to top that off, they have all been caught right in New England, where I live, and where 9 lb. Bass are all but unheard of.
No... I haven't caught hundreds, or even dozens of bass over 9 lbs. That one was my personal best from New England waters, but I have caught hundreds of bass over 5 lbs. And dozens between 6 and 8 lbs.! Again, all from New England lakes, where the water temperatures in the winter turn the water to ice for weeks at a time.
So I guess you're wondering how this happens... how bass that big can be caught in an area of the country that isn't well-known for trophy-sized bass. Well, let me share with you what I believe to be the absolute best lure for catching big bass at night.
This lure has been responsible for the vast majority of my bass over 5 lbs. while night fishing. It's also been responsible for me winning thousands of dollars in tournament prize money over the past 20 years!
So what bait is this? Is it some monster topwater bait? Is it some kind of secret bait that I make myself, that's not available to the general public? Well, sort of. It is sold in stores and on websites across the Internet, but not in the exact configuration that I use.
That bait is a spinnerbait. Yep! A “lowly” spinnerbait. The bait that many so-called purists turn their nose up to because they don't think it takes skill to use. The bait that many newbie anglers catch their very first bass on.
But don't be mistaken. This isn't any ordinary spinnerbait that I use after dark. It's my own concoction of lead, silicone and brass, put together just so, in order to entice the very biggest bass in the lake and bring them over the side of my boat.
Over the years I've done a lot of experimenting with different spinnerbaits after dark. I've tried many different brands and styles of store-bought, mass-manufactured spinnerbaits. But none of them were ever exactly what I was looking for in a bait for night fishing.
Because of the amount of experience that I have catching bass at night, I've learned a thing or two about what it takes and what the bigger bass seem to prefer. So I took all of this knowledge and set about making the perfect spinnerbait for catching the biggest bass in the lake, after the sun has set.
I want a bait that is big and bulky. I want a bait that's bold and creates a commotion under the water, sending out a pulsing vibration with its big blade, making it easy to find and appealing to very big bass.
I want a spinnerbait that looks like this! A bait with a big single blade that can pound out a rhythm beneath the water, imitating a large meal to make big bass think it's worth pursuing.
I want a dark, bulky skirt that gives a large profile for the bass to home in on.
I want a wire that's light enough to allow the bait to vibrate, creating irresistible pulsations, but strong enough to withstand the punishment that big bass can dish out.
And I want a heavy bait. One that will cast like a rocket and that will let me count it down to the depths where big bass are prowling after dark, but still light enough to allow me to fish it in water as shallow as a foot.
So the bait pictured above is what I came up with, after years of trial and error, testing and on-the-water “lab results”. I call it “The Thumper”. It lives up to its name by way of that larger-than-normal single Colorado blade that thumps mercilessly under the water, calling big bass from a distance.
It's a bait that was years in refining, to make it just right. And believe me. It does work!
Start off with a high-quality painted spinnerbait head. Make sure it's black and make sure the wire isn't too stiff. Wire that's too stiff will kill the bait's vibration and make it useless for night fishing. For a 1/2 oz. Bait, which is what you want to build, use a pre-poured, pre-painted head with .40 wire. It's perfect for this kind of bait.
Also, be sure to use the R bend style of wire. The twisted or looped eye is a bit more durable and less likely to straighten out on a big fish, but it's also more likely to cut your line if it somehow gets wrapped around the eye accidentally. No need to take chances on this happening when you're chasing the bass of a lifetime.
Next, add a bulky silicone skirt in a dark color. You can use black, black/red or black/purple. Any of these will work. These days, I tend to use black/purple more than any other color combination. In the long run, it probably doesn't matter which of these colors you choose, as long as it's dark.
Next, add a large Colorado blade. I prefer a size 7 blade for the 1/2 oz. bait. It's big enough to thump distinctively, but not big enough to cause the bait to roll over on the retrieve, provided you don't try to burn it back to the boat. I also don't bother with nickel blades. I use only hammered brass blades. The hammered finish gives it a tiny bit more vibration in the water and the brass finish keeps it from shining or shimmering underwater. Remember... we're not trying to be flashy, just “noisy” in terms of vibration. Additionally, the brass blades will become dull after using them a few times, which will keep the blade from having any flash whatsoever when used after dark.
Finally, add a high-quality ball bearing swivel to your bait. I have tested both, ball bearing and non ball bearing swivels and I prefer the ball bearing unit because it spins more freely if you use a lift and drop retrieve vs. a steady retrieve. This allows me to cast the bait and let it flutter downward on a semi-slack line and have the blade spin slowly on the way down.
Put these components all together and you have the perfect lure for catching bass after dark!
The majority of the time you won't be doing anything too fancy with this bait. Just a simple cast and retrieve will catch a good number of big fish, if you put it in the right areas. There may be times when you'll want to cast it out and let it slowly flutter down toward the bottom, feeling for bites as the bait flutters down.
But I won't get into the various types of retrieves or where to fish this bait right now. That's a topic for another article!
Go grab yourself some of these components and make your own perfect night fishing spinnerbaits. And then go chase that bass of a lifetime.
Learn more about spinnerbaits.