You can catch summer largemouths during daylight hours, especially during cloudy periods or when the water is muddy. But the odds of success improve if you fish the hours between dusk and dawn. During hot weather in relatively clear waters, many bass work the late shift, and bass anglers should, too.
Brad Wiegmann of Springdale, Ark., (www.bradwiegmann.com) is one angler who does just that. Although he has fished rivers and lakes throughout the country, his home water is northwest Arkansas’ Beaver Lake, a deep, clear 28,370–acre impoundment where Wiegmann has been guiding bass fishermen since 1989. Experience has shown this experienced guide and tournament angler that summer largemouths here are best targeted at night. He goes after them using a three-pronged approach almost guaranteed to put fish in the boat.
“There are three primary lures in my nighttime bass-fishing arsenal,” Wiegmann said. “The Arbogast Jitterbug topwater plug, the Booyah Moon Talker spinnerbait and Bomber’s BD7 Fat Free Shad crankbait. Those three lures allow me to cover all the strike zones: top, middle and bottom. I’m looking for reaction strikes when I cast them and don’t sit long in any one spot.”
The Arbogast Jitterbug has been a favorite lure of night fishermen since it was introduced way back in 1938. It’s simple and easy to use. Throw it out and retrieve it at a speed that produces a pronounced wobble and loud gurgle. That’s all there is to it. As it flips across the water, the Jitterbug inveigles hungry bass like a duck call attracts mallards.
“Other topwaters can be used for night fishing,” said Wiegmann, “but I like the Jitterbug best. The lure’s walking motion drives fish crazy, making them attack. I cast the lure and let it sit until the rings have completely died, then slowly reel it in. The rhythmic plop, plop, plop, plop doesn’t stop until you hear the crashing noise of a bass striking the lure. You can fish lots of water fast, making it the perfect search bait. And it draws strikes from both suspended and inactive fish.”
Wiegmann prefers fishing a Jitterbug under a full moon. This helps him see the shoreline and structure better, so he can make more accurate casts.
“Location is everything in real estate and also when fishing a Jitterbug,” he added. “Prime locations at night include long points, bluff walls, flats, riprap and waters adjacent to lighted boat houses and docks. The Jitterbug really shines around shallow cover when you reel it extremely slow over the top.”
Booyah Moon Talker
As its name might suggest, the Moon Talker spinnerbait was specially designed with the avid nighttime angler in mind. Each lure has a deep-cup, black nickel, #5 or #6 Colorado blade that thumps out a beat sure to attract the attention of darkside lunkers. And the color options—black/silver flake, black/red, black/chartreuse and black/blue—are ideal for night fishing.
“The Moon Talker is my mid-depth night-fishing lure,” said Wiegmann. “I typically fish the black/blue model and rig the lure with a YUM Craw Chunk soft-plastic trailer in Virgo Blue color. I cast the spinnerbait, then bring it back with a real slow retrieve. The Moon Talker’s big blade throws off a lot of vibration and draws lots of strikes.”
Points, brush piles and shallow flats near the mouths of small coves are among the hotspots Wiegmann targets.
“I catch a lot of bass on this lure when fishing the flats on Beaver Lake, most of which are about 8 feet deep,” he reported. “Those with the river channel right next to them are usually best, but with rising water, bass may be on flats right by shore. Because sound and vibration are keys to enticing bites on a spinnerbait at night, I use a steady retrieve, just ticking the rocks or bumping the lure into other cover or structure.”
Bomber Fat Free Shad
In waters like Beaver Lake, shad often comprise a large part of the largemouth bass’ diet, so it makes sense a lure imitating these baitfish is great for catching hawgs. Bomber’s Fat Free Shad with its amazingly lifelike action and color fits that mold and is used by Wiegmann to nab night bass in deeper water. The BD7 model can be cranked down 14 to 18 feet deep. And it “kicks out” of hang-ups and works through cover, a major advantage over similar crankbaits when fishing at night.
“When night fishing, I prefer BD7s in black and red colors, like the Red Crawfish or Rayburn Gold,” Wiegmann said. “I reel the lure fast, getting it down deep and looking for a reaction strike.”
Deep brush piles are prime hotspots when the Fat Free Shad is used, Wiegmann noted. But in Beaver Lake, an Ozark Mountain impoundment, the best areas to target are often steep points or other structure covered with big chunk rocks.
“Bass move up and down points when feeding on shad and crayfish,” Wiegmann said. “And a good way to find them is by cranking the lure down one of these rocky points. The strikes can be fierce, leaving no doubt you’re ready to rumble, even though it’s pitch-black outside.”
Wiegmann’s three-point plan for night fishing is a good strategy to try on any deep, clear mountain lake, not only for largemouths, but for smallmouths and spotted bass, too. An Arbogast Jitterbug nails ‘em on top, the Moon Talker spinnerbait draws strikes from mid-depth fish, and if it’s a night when the bass are down deeper, the Bomber Fat Free Shad is the ticket to success.
Try Wiegmann’s line of attack this summer, preferably under a full moon. It’s a sure bet your dog-days catch rate will soar.