Night BiteNight Bite
Keep it simple, safe and plan ahead to make the most of your night fishing trips
By J.B. Webb
As the sun was sinking in the west, the boat ramp was busy. People were loading up after a day on the water. There were some bass boats in the mix. The fishermen standing around were tired looking and slightly red from the sun despite wearing sunscreen. As most boats were leaving, a truck pulling a bass boat came in and prepared to launch. The number of rods laid out on the deck might have surprised someone looking into the boat. A casual conversation might have revealed that these fishermen were newcomers to the area and were looking for smallmouth bas.
As they launched and idled out there was still some daylight left. Instead of starting to fish after reaching the harbor mouth, they took off on a run down the rocky bluffs then cut across to the dam. Being new to Texoma they were doing something all fishermen on a lake new to them, night or day, for the first few times should do. They were familiarizing themselves with the area they were fishing and they were also getting an idea of the most productive looking spots before dark.
Nighttime on a strange lake can be a little confusing. Things look different in the dark. I have never been lost on Texoma at night, but I have been confused. This sounds better than, "I couldn't find my hindquarters with both hands." But with the popularity of GPS systems, getting lost is mostly a thing of the past if you have one.
The sun finally set and the buzz of jet skis and people and boat wakes was replaced by the hum of mosquitoes and the calls of night birds and a calm lake. Just at dusk the boat mentioned earlier pulled in on a point they had selected and started casting.
The comment on rod numbers I made earlier is worth mentioning again. If there are two of you in the boat, three rods each are plenty. First off the less likely you are to step on or kick overboard a prized combo. With six rods you can each tie on different baits and cover the water shallow to deep.
Summertime fishing on Texoma or any other smallmouth lake for the bronzebacks is much more enjoyable and usually more productive than daytime fishing. It's cooler and the water has finally settled down after the cruisers and big pleasure boats have returned to their slips.
Later, as the boat slowly moved down the rocky bank one of the fisherman made a cast into a dark crack in the rocks, the distinctive splat of a spinner hitting water and click as the reel engaged were added to the other nighttime sounds. Two turns and a jarring strike followed by a missile exploding from the water heralded the strike of a vicious smallmouth. Not long afterwards as his partner bumped a crawdad colored Bomber crankbait along the rocky bottom, there was a slight tick and a heavy feeling to the rod. With just a hook set another brown fish came flying out of the water.
Smallmouth will hit with such gusto at night that it's nothing for them to take a spinner blade off by springing the split ring. Many nighttime strikes are the fish hitting the blade instead of the hook. You can usually count on a spinnerbait strike to be aggressive. Crankbait bites are often just a tick or heavy feeling on your line. I have found that most smallmouth caught at night will jump instantly and keep jumping until they're at the boat. About anywhere you fish on Texoma at night, if you have rocky banks nearby sooner or later there will be bats flying around you. Most times they swoop at your rod tip but sometimes come close enough to your head to get your attention.
Other surprises often await the night angler. I had one trip where a raccoon followed us down the bank for some time. Every time we tossed a lure close to the bank, he would run into the water and try to catch it.
For nighttime locations and times of the month, fishing is generally best before, on or after the full moon. Fishing on the dark of the moon can be productive also, but the full moon lets you see where you are casting better and reduces the number of hang ups you will experience.
As to best places, shallow chunk rock points and banks are one of my first starting spots. Look for those with the deep water just a short way out. If there is a bank with lights shining on the water, fish it thoroughly.
Minnows can be seen working alive under the lights and bass are there too. It is as likely to be a spotted or largemouth under the light as a smallie. Before the night is out, I will have also tried the rocky points on the end of Preston Point here on Texoma that have wide shallow rock shelves running out to deep water. Generally in water like this I prefer a crankbait or a jig with an Uncle Josh #11 black pork on it. I also like to use a pork frog for a spinnerbait trailer. It slows the fall of the bait and makes a bigger profile than a worm or grub.
I would recommend that you start shallow throwing right up on the bank. As soon as you engage your reel, snap your rod tip up. Generally at night a lot of your bites will be reaction strikes. The rapid starts of the bait will either get it "killed" instantly or the strike may come when you pause to get out the slack and start to move it again.
If fishing proves unproductive on bluffs, head toward the dam and fish the north end and turnarounds with the same baits. On Texoma from Eisenhower east including the closed boat ramps there are some prime night fishing areas.
I generally like to fish fast at night, throwing a spinnerbait first and a crankbait second, but at times a person slow-rolling a bait touching bottom has thumped me. A dark jig and trailer crawled on the bottom while slow fishing is often the ticket especially if you have some wave action. This is where your advance scouting pays off. By getting on the lake early while it's still light, you can find some of these spots rather than looking for them in the dark.
On Texoma, or any other Texas lake, if fishing at night, remember to leave your running lights on. It's the law. Make sure you have a couple of good flashlights with fresh batteries on board. Other things to make sure you have are insect repellent, high-energy snacks, and coffee or soft drinks high in caffeine along with a midnight meal. And don't forget to tell someone where you're likely to be as well as carrying a mobile phone to make contact should you have an emergency.
To really enjoy nighttime smallmouth, or any type of fishing slow down and relax and let what happens happen. Texoma, Whitney and Possum Kingdom along with many other Texas lakes have a booming population of the golden fighters. All it takes is to give up a little sleep, be prepared, and go fishing.
If you haven't fished at night for smallies, the first time you tie up with a big one will mark the end of sitting in front of a TV or going to bed early.
Fishing at night is different. Sounds are magnified, and occasionally you hear something in the night that will make the hair on the nape of your neck rise a little. Shadows cast on the rocks take on new shapes; at times your imagination sees things that aren't there.
Night fishing on Texoma, or any of our other good smallmouth lakes is an experience that should be tried at least once by everyone. So don't stay home all summer, the night awaits and the bites are great.
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