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Before heading out to night fish, make sure that you know the area that you are going to fish. Most lakes have structures just below the surface such as stumps, metal pipes from old boat docks and rocks that can be very dangerous while boating at night. Knowing the lake and where these hazards are at the current water level will save you on costly repairs to your boat and possibly your life. Safety first, make sure all running lights are working on your boat and that you have good flashlight or head lamp on board before heading out.
Research has shown that bass move into shallow water to feed at night; especially in the warmer months of the year. During the summer daylight hours, most bass seek deep water refuge from the sun and extreme heat, making them more difficult to catch. At night, they feel more secure and tend to roam shallow flats looking for food making them an easier target for bass fishermen.
To gear up for a night trip make sure that you have plenty of lures with a dark color. Black, purple, or blue fleck are great colors to start with. Most bass feed while looking up and can see a dark silhouette at night better than they can a lighter tint. Lures range from slow moving jigs and Texas rigged worms to fast moving spinner-baits and crank-baits. The key is to make sure that you use a bulky lure that moves a lot of water so that the bass can find it easier in the dark. Some of the best night time lures include a 10 inch Berkley power worm and a ½ ounce spinner-bait with a big Colorado blade. You may also want to add a rattle to your lure as another attraction. If your lake has an abundance of aquatic grass such as hydrilla or milfoil, a slow running, black buzz-bait will produce some startling strikes.
The best areas on a lake to night fish are those that have a lot of shallow brush or rocks next to deeper water. This includes the rip-rap along dams and bridges as well as boat docks. Other key areas are banks that are well lit such as those in a marina or boat docks that have a security light that remains on all night. Bass will position themselves in the shadows of these lights waiting for a shad, perch or crawfish to swim by. If you are night fishing during a full moon, fish the banks that have moon-light shining on them. Target the shadows that the moon-light makes on the bank behind trees, rocks or brush.
Night-time bass fishing can provide some of the best action all year long. Make sure that you are well prepared and slow down while boating across the lake. Remember to be cautious and to put safety first and you will have an enjoyable experience.
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How to Fish Any Lake Like a Pro
After reading the following 7 strategies your life as a angler will never be the same. In fact you can use any one of the following tips individually and increase the number of bass that you catch.
1. All weedlines are not created equal. The goal when it comes to weedlines is to avoid those straight-line weed edges because they are the least productive areas on any lake. When surveying the lake you should keep an eye open for something different such as points, inside turns, cuts, alleys and finger-like projections.
According to most professional anglers irregular weedlines indicate changes in depth or changes in bottom composition, which both attract bass. Another great thing to keep in mind about irregular weedlines is that it gives the predator bass an upper hand in ambushing baitfish.
2. Wind direction is extremely important. Ask any bass angler about wind direction and they will tell you to fish the windward side of a reservoir because churned water tends to activate baitfish into feeding and at the same time disorient them slightly. The same principles apply when it comes natural lakes as well.
3. Go early - go deep - most bass anglers who fish natural lakes will advise you to go early and to head straight for the shallow water. WRONG! The second mistake that I hear bass anglers state is to head to the inside weedline first thing in the morning. Again I will have to hit them with a big fat WRONG! Here's the hardcore facts... The bigger bass will be feeding on the deep weed edge in the morning. This same rule of thumb applies as the evening approaches. The bottom line... Head for the deep weed edge.
4. Consider going pass the edge - I use to hit the lake and follow the weedline with the determination of a duck on a june bug. I was like a kid at Christmas every time I landed my cast on the weed edge. Yes it is possible to catch bass using this approach - however you are defiantly not maximizing the area that you are fishing.
While fishing you may want to consider the weed density, prey species, bottom composition, bottom slope and of course the weather, bass may retreat father back into the weed canopy or move off the weedline toward deeper water. In particular, the better smallmouth sites may be only a long cast off the weedline toward deeper water. From my personal experiences, the better smallmouth sites may be only a long cast off the weedline to a hard-bottom rise.
5. Flip The Canopy - when it comes to fishing natural lakes, flipping and pitching to a weed edge is hands down the most popular form of presentation. Most anglers will tell you that the bait should fall very slowly so they favor exceptionally light weights. However, light weights often hang up on foliage. Personally I rather use a 3/8 or ½ ounce weight so the bait gets to the bottom without interference. I have found this technique to be extremely useful on days when bass are not overly aggressive. I know they are waiting for me on the bottom and backed up under the canaopy.
When possible I will fish 10 feet or more into the weedbed, targeting any little opening that allows my bait to enter cleanly and drop straight down. If it hits bottom without a strike, I'll pause for a moment, then lift it a couple of inches and "BAM" drop it again. After it sits for a few seconds, I'll make another pitch. Before you email me or post a lot of comments asking please allow me to volunteer right now and just tell you. Generally when fishing under the above conditions I will flip and pitch a Texas-rigged tube or compact beaver-tailed bait with a pegged tungsten weight on 15-pound fluorocarbon line. Green pumpkin is his usual go-to color. When all else seems to be feeling I will pull out the big guns and switch to baby soft plastics to a finesse-flip-ping jig with a sweet zoom speed craw.
6. Throw that Jigworm - when the bass are totally ignoring everything that I am throwing at them and it would appear that they are totally inactive I will step up my presentation for the weedline to a ¼ ounce Slider Spider Classic Head with a 4-inch worm.
Charlie Brewer's Spider Classic Head features a large size and heavier gauge hook than the standard Spider Head. In my personal opinion I feel that it is the offset hook that allows for the weedless rigging, and the cone-shaped head slips through vegetation stalks. I prefer to right it with a Zoom Centipede in a translucent color like watermelon or ice, but you can use any 4-inch worm. I fish it on spinning tackle with 8-pound test and catch bass of all sizes.
Whenever you cast make sure to cast parallel to the weedline and let your lure sink to the bottom. Then use your rod tip to lift the bait and pull it 2 to 3 feet before letting it settle back to the bottom. Use the 5 to 6 second pause to take up the slack line before pulling the lure again.
7. Crank the hell out of the edges - Shhhh! Do not tell anyone about this next little secret... A deep-diving crankbait is another lure that I have great success with when fishing weedlines.
I'm sure a lot of anglers that you tell this to will cringe at the thought of using a crankbait around weedbeds on natural lakes. I am willing to go up against any of those naysayers any day of the week. I have caught more large bass with this strategy than you can shake a stick at. I'm telling you when those bass are actively feeding, this is the lure that I recommend that you throw.
I like to use a big bodied deep diver that can easily reach bottom at the depth where weeds stop growing. Rather than use a moderate action cranking rod, I prefer a stiff medium heavy rod with a fast action in order to rip the bait free of vegetation. I also use a 12 pound fluorocarbon. Another reason I love the crankbait so much is that it allows me to cover a lot of territory. Remember when cranking the edge do not be afraid of getting caught up on weeds. When you rip them loose it could trigger a strike.
FACT: if you follow the seven rules above you will defiantly improve your fishing experience.
Night Fishing For Catfish - Enticing Trophy Catfish Into A Feeding Frenzy!
Equipment you will need:
- Boat Anchors
- Separate 12v Battery To run lights
- Night Lights
- Submerged Lighting
- Live Bait Keeper
- Chum bag Rod Holders
- Heavy Bait Casting Or Spinning Rig
- Insect Repellent
Night fishing for catfish can be a very rewarding fishing trip. Trust me If you do it correctly you will catch fish, not only will you catch fish but some will be lunkers! Catfish feed at night and are very active, and when they get into a feeding frenzy fishing action can be incredible! Catfish are attracted to submerged lighting And have a very keen sense of smell. So If you can locate their nightly haunts you can entice them on to your hook with some simple methods I will explain here. But first you must be setup and prepared for night fishing it is totally different at night then in the day. Things you take for granted during the day, don't apply at night.
Boat Setup for night fishing
Before you even think about going night fishing for catfish you need to have the following items:, lights for inside the boat,either battery or Coleman fuel type lanterns with two mantles. Set up your lights so they distribute light evenly inside the boat. I personally fish from a 20 foot pontoon and I have 3 halogen battery powered lights hung 2in the front, left and right and one hanging from my canopy in the rear. (I have used my Colemans but they attract a huge amount of insects)
You also will need a secondary light on your person. This light is used for re-rigging your fishing poles. Trust me, no matter how prepared you are before your trip you will loose some tackle, from line crossovers, or snags, or fish snapping your line. (you can limit this by using heavy tackle and making sure your line is fresh) I personally use a led light that clips to the visor on my ball cap.
You also will need a light to illuminate the water surface I recommend 12v halogen light that can be directed outside the boat. Mount it on the side of your boat, in the center. I personally use and adjustable halogen that I can clip to the railing on my pontoon. Direct the light at a 60 degree angle from boat to water. This will illuminate the surface.
You will need a submerged light source. You are probably asking your self right now why do I need submerged lighting? The submerged lights will generate plankton swirls that will attract bait fish. Once the bait fish start schooling The big cats will come. attract schools Submerged lighting rigs come in a variety of sizes and shapes, the one I use is 36" long about 4" in diameter. Center the submerged light in the illumination pattern of the surface water lighting you just set up. Anchor your submerged lighting about 12 " off the bottom, (without an anchor they will float on top of the water).. make sure the light completely submerged under the water. I recommend you use a 5lb weight as an anchor. If possible, anchor the submerged light about 2 to 3 ft from the boat.
You will need a secondary power source for the submerged light, the water illumination light and to operate your aerator pump for your live bait or live well."do not use your boats power source" This will drain your battery."you don't want to get stuck on the lake at night right? If you take a well charged 12v marine battery as your second source it will last through the night.
You will need all Your poles pre-rigged If you have the rigs I would set up 3 poles, per person in advance of getting on the water. The reason I suggest this is because it's real pain the "blank" To re-rig at night. You will end up doing it anyway, but if you have spare poles already set up, use them first before you have waist valuable time with poles out of the water.
Locating the cat's nightly haunts
It has been my experience the bigger cat's roam the shore lines or back waters in search of food at night. Every body of water will be different. I highly recommend you do some research on the body of water you intend to night fish for catfish on. At Minimum Get a topographical map of the area before you attempt your trip. These can be attained at any of the local bait and tackle shops in the area. (I recommend you visit one of these shops to get the local scoop anyway, if you dig deep enough these guys can pin point on the map Where to start fishing. This will save you lots of time.)
Enticing the Cats to your boat.
Once you have your water surface lights and your submerged lights set up and ready to go you don't even need to do the next step, you are ready to start fishing. The submerged lighting will get the schools of bait fish coming, but I take it step one step further because if you play on the catfish's extra sensitive sense of smell you can drive the Big cats into a feeding frenzy! Ok You say how?
Well the answer is by introducing "chumming". Chumming releases a slick of dead fish smells and fish guts that the small bait fish and catfish feed on. There are many commercial chumming systems you can purchase and they work very well, but I use a simple very inexpensive method that anyone can set up. First you will need a nylon netted bag that you can close tight. (a good example would the netted bags that you put golf balls in that have a string closure adjustment) This is what I use, works perfect, very inexpensive. Next, get some good size freezer bags, 3 should do for one nights trip.
Next, Purchase about 2 dozen good size chubs and cut them in 1" to 2" slices, make sure you do this in a pan that will not drain all the juices. Fill the freezer bags pieces and juice all together, and let them sit outside in the sun all day long. Yes it will stink to high heaven by the end of the day, but that is what you want! Now stick the freezer bag in side the meshed bag that can close. Close the bag tight and tie a line at the bottom of the bag about 2 feet long. Attach about a 2lb anchor to get the bag to the bottom. Now tie a line at the top of the bag with enough lead line to get the bag on the bottom. Now before you lower the chum bag to the bottom take an ice pick, or something sharp that will puncture the bag, but not tear the plastic. Punch the freezer bag numerous times, then lower to the bottom an tie it off on the side of the boat.
Now its time to fish! But before we go there lets re-visit Your catfish rigs. There are many catfish rigs you can use, and they all work in situations they are designed for. When you are fishing at night and you have submerged a lighting setup,you want get your line about 2 ft away from the light source, approximated on the outer edges of the source's beam.
You will be fishing only a short distance from the boat, so your rigs need to be set up to fish in close proximity to the boat. You could fish tight line with a basic catfish hook and a small sinker. Or use a slip bobber system. I prefer to use the slip bobber system.
I use the single hook rig. Both rigs shown in the illustration work fine but I just have preference for the single hook rig. I do use the double hook rig when fishing for other types of fish. I use all heavy duty, open face, and spin cast rod and reels with 30lb test. When you do get a lunker on your line you want the tackle set up to handle the fight. You miss some smaller cats, but it's well worth it when you catch your first 10lb plus catfish.
Baits To Use
both Channel and Blue catfish will eat just about any small fish like Suckers, small shad, or bluegills both live or dead. I use both live bait and dead "cut bait" I will normally set one pole up with a small live gill no more that 3inches in length. My other poles will be baited with cut bait, normally LARGE suckers 6" or longer cut in 1" to 2" chunks.
Now Bait your rigs,Get Your Boat Setup and get ready for an exciting Night fishing for Catfish Trip! Once you catch a lunker 10 pounder + You will be Hooked for life! So have fun and good luck
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