Bassin' Logan Martin -- By Night

At this popular fishing hole near Birmingham, angling conditions can be rugged in the heat of summer. But not if you target the bass after nightfall! (July 2006)

After dark the torrid heat abates -- unlike the appetite of the bass in the reservoir!
Photo by Charles Johnson.

As the sizzling summer sun slips below the horizon, many boaters head for home after a long hot day on the water. The sultry heat fades to an increasingly tolerable level as night falls on Logan Martin Lake, and the water grows ever calmer. Most anglers are putting the rods and lures away -- but others are just beginning to get theirs ready.

Summer nights offer reduced boat traffic and more-comfortable temperatures for those out to fool old Mr. Bass on this Coosa River impoundment. "It is a lot cooler," said David Austin of Munford, a regular on Logan Martin night-fishing trips, "and less boats are on the water at night."

It also doesn't hurt that when the water temperature falls after dark, bass tend to move in shallower to feed.

In recent years, night-fishing for summer bass has grown increasingly popular at this impoundment. Some marinas on Logan Martin even hold weekly tournaments at night during the summer months. As many as 30 boats participate in these after-dark events.

What areas of the lake are apt to be profitable at night? "Fish the same areas you would normally fish during the day," Austin advised. He also suggested that you consider points leading to shallow flats, areas over weedbeds or lighted piers as likely places to search for night-time bass on Logan Martin. Humps are also worth checking out, as bass move up shallow in search of food.

Weedbeds are prime choices for after-dark bass, too. The fish move up along the weed edges searching for baitfish or other forage. Most weeds on Logan Martin are along shallow banks or points, but you should direct special attention to the larger weedbeds near deep water.

How about lure selections for nighttime angling? "When night-fishing for bass, it is hard to go wrong with a black or dark-colored bait," offered Weaver angler Greg Davie, who has fished at night on Logan Martin for many years. "I prefer a black spinner bait in the 3/8- to 1/2-ounce range."

Both Austin and Davie agree that the No. 1 choice for nighttime bass is a dark-colored spinnerbait. These lures should have a single large Colorado-style blade to give off plenty of the vibration that attracts hungry bass. Some spinnerbaits have rattles, which can make the lure even more enticing to the fish.

It may seem odd that black is an effective color for night-fishing lures. How can fish see a black lure in the dark? "The bass are underneath the water," Davie explained, "looking up to a dimly lit sky. The lure is silhouetted against the sky, making it easier for the bass to see."

"Go ahead and take the time to super-glue a plastic trailer or grub to your spinnerbait," said Austin. "This will save time, and prevent you from having to adjust the trailer in the dark every few casts, or after catching a fish."

Austin prefers a blue twin-tail grub to enhance the silhouette of the spinnerbait. "A surefire technique is to fish heavier spinnerbaits, around 5/8 ounce, near bluff walls on the river bank," he added. "Retrieve the bait very slowly back to the boat -- just enough to keep the blades turning."

With the commotion that they create on the water's surface, noisy topwater lures like buzzbaits or prop baits are also smart choices for attracting bass after dark. When working these, keep the retrieve steady to allow the bass to home in on the sound.

Dark-colored jigs also work on after-dark bigmouths. Tip the jig with a soft plastic or a pork trailer to give it a larger profile. Fish them around brush, weeds or rocks to simulate a crawfish, one of the bass' favorite meals.

Large soft-plastic worms, also in dark colors, are savvy picks for nighttime bass anglers. Curlytail or ribbon-tail worms alert the bass to their presence through vibration. Eight- to 10- inch worms work well for big bass and -- a big plus -- are virtually weedless.

Don't be concerned about line size for nighttime bassin'. Heavier pound-test lines won't be detected in lightless waters, and often prevent breakoffs when a hooked bass gets into cover or structure.

A fluorescent-coated line used in conjunction with an ultraviolet light source can make the line glow above the water. "With a black light the line will look as big as a ski rope," Davie noted. "Even the lightest strike will make the line jump and help detect the bite. When fishing soft plastics like a worm, the black light will help you see which direction the line is moving to allow for the proper hook set."

Davie prefers a slow, steady retrieve in the dark, regardless of lure type. The uniform vibration or noise will give the bass a chance to pick up on the lure's location. In the case of spinnerbaits and topwater lures, most strikes are aggressive; soft plastics and jigs elicit a subtler response.

The bass of a summer night can still be a little finicky, and may want a some variation in presentation or lure choice. "Have your partner use a different type of lure than you to see what the bass prefer for that night," David Austin suggested. "This saves time by narrowing the lure choices quickly.

"Visit an area more than once during the night. Many times, bass may not have moved up to an area or are not feeding the first time you fish the area. Come back to the same area again later in the night for another try.

"Some nights the bass won't even touch a spinnerbait," Austin added. "That is when I switch to a Carolina rig with a small grub or tube."

Have only a few rods rigged and ready and keep clutter out of the boat during nighttime fishing excursions. Having things in good order will allow you to move around in the boat without stepping on rods or tripping over something when that big strike occurs.

"Once a fish is hooked, try to keep it away from the trolling motor or outboard," said Davie. "In the dark, it is hard to see which direction a hooked bass may go,"

Most experienced night-anglers like to fish from sundown to midnight during a full moon. But during a new moon, you might want to start around midnight and fish to just after sunup.

Safety is important on the water at any time, but even more so after dark. "Fish an are

a of the lake you are familiar with," Greg Davie cautioned. "After dark, landmarks are not visible, and the lake surroundings can look completely different."

It's best to fish with at least one partner when on the lake at night. Partners can assist each other in boating fish, handling equipment and watching for objects on the water.

The most basic safety tip for nighttime boat operations: Just slow down. Judging distances on the water is a more complicated thing at night than it is in the daylight hours. Gun that engine excessively, and you might find that stump coming up on the port side coming in a lot faster than you initially expected it to.

During the summertime, high temperatures can make fishing during the day slow and boring for many anglers. So why don't you give yourself the chance to catch some quality fish and enjoy the outdoors under a cool summer moon? Nighttime is the right time for summer bass on Logan Martin Lake!

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