Moonlight Bass Tips: Summer Night Fishing Game Plan

Smaller crowds, avoiding hot daytime temperatures and aggressive nighttime feeding activity are three good excuses/reasons why you should target bass under the moonlight during the summer and early fall months

By: Travis Faulkner,


Targeting lighted boat docks, ramps, and houseboat slips at night with top-water lures can generate some intense action after sunset. (Travis Faulkner photo)


When the sun goes down, it’ll get a little hotter, according to what country music singer Tyler Farr says in one of his hit songs Whiskey In My Water. I think Farr is referring to things heating up on a hot date, but his line can also apply to summer night fishing for bass as well.

Fishing after dark is one of the most productive ways to exploit lunker bass throughout the hot summer months and into early fall. The action can be extremely intense and sizzling hot after sunset.

On that note, let’s breakdown a complete night-fishing game plan that will keep you out of the daytime heat, away from those large lake crowds, and in the strike zone all summer long.

Night Fishing Gear Adjustments

In order to step up your night fishing arsenal, the first thing you need to do is simply switch your daytime fishing line over to a clear-blue fluorescent monofilament. This type of line glows like a blue-beam laser on the surface when used in combination with a blacklight. The ability to clearly see fishing line at night is a huge advantage, because it allows you to detect the lightest strikes and determine when your lure has reached the bottom.

There are a variety of blacklights and mounting options currently available. One of the most technologically advanced and convenient blacklights available is the new Nightfishion Plus. This custom-fit blacklight system is embedded directly into a boat’s rubber rub-rail.

During the daytime, it’s virtually undetectable, but a simple flip of the switch at night and you can light up the dark like nobody’s business. With precision lighting wrapped around the entire boat, your line will be clearly visible regardless of where you cast. It also has a dimmer switch option allowing you to adjust and fine tune lighting according to the present moon phase, cloud cover and fishing conditions.)


Lunker bass will often leave their deep-water sanctuaries at night to aggressively feed, which creates a major window of opportunity. (Travis Faulkner photo)


Tactics and Strategies for Night Bass Fishing

When daytime temperatures heat up, a lot of bass will seek out shady retreats and cooler deep-water sanctuaries. In many cases, they will suspend and hold off the breaks of points, ledges and submerged islands or humps. As temperatures drop at night and the lake settles down some from the daytime crowds, bass will gradually move up into shallow water and actively feed under the cover of darkness. Locating structure holding baitfish and offering quick, easy access to deeper water, is a major key to fishing the nightshift.

Lure Color Adjustments Based on Moonlight

As a general rule of thumb, the current phase of the moon and cloud cover will have a direct impact on the color selection of your lures. When fishing pitch-black nights with little to no moonlight, go with darker colors such as solid black, brown and deep blue. Under a bright moon or clear starlit night, switch over to louder color combinations such as green/orange, purple/pink, or even red/chartreuse. On partially cloudy or semi-bright nights, attack bass with dark/bright color combinations consisting of red/black, blue/black and green/black.

Toss High Vibration Lures at Nighttime Bass

A large single-Colorado-blade spinnerbait that puts off a lot of vibration (or thump) is a deadly nighttime lure.  Rigging the spinnerbait with a plastic imitation craw or chunk trailer will add to the swimming and falling action, which makes it hard to resist for active bass. This rig enables you to cover a lot of water, and it can be fished at a variety of depths and speeds.

If you’re targeting shallow water, a long-arm 3/8-ounce spinnerbait is ideally suited for fishing shallow-water cover with a steady retrieve. When fishing deeper water, switch over to a short-arm 5/8- to ½-ounce spinnerbait and go with a textbook lift and drop presentation. The shorter arm allows the blade to spin more when the lure is sinking, which is crucial because a lot of strikes will occur on the drop.


A single Colorado Blade Spinnerbait rigged with chunk or crayfish trailers is a deadly nighttime lure when bass are gorging on shad. (Travis Faulkner photo)


Night Fishing Must-have: Jig with Soft-Plastic Trailer

Another deadly nighttime lure is a skirted jig tipped with a chunk trailer mimicking the natural actions of shad and even crayfish. This versatile lure can also be fished at a variety of depths and with different presentations. Crawling the jig and popping it across the bottom directly mimics the action of crayfish that often come out from beneath their rocky crevasses at night to feed. If bass appear to be aggressively gorging on shad, then try swimming the jig or going with the lift-and-drop technique to cover multiple depths.

Nighttime anglers should not overlook a large Texas-rigged, weedless plastics, specifically worms and lizards, for fishing in and around wood and grass cover. Some of the best nighttime plastic lures have tails that produce a lot of wiggle and vibration, which makes them easier for bass to find in the dark. If bass are holding tight to heavy cover, it’s really hard to beat the weedless fishability of soft plastics.

When Bass Fishing at Night, Attack the Surface

Under the right conditions, topwater lures such as prop-baits and buzzbaits can be effective when bass are chasing shad in shallow water. On dark moon (no moon) nights, go with dark solid colors like black and deep blue. During well-lit nighttime fishing conditions, switch over to brighter colors like chartreuse, orange, yellow and white. Targeting lighted areas around docks, boat ramps, house-boat slips and residential areas right on the water with topwater lures can get your arm broken by a giant bass; just fair warning.

At the end of the day, if you’re willing to make some minor adjustments to your fishing equipment and follow this proven nighttime fishing game plan, there’s no reason why you can’t fill the boat with quality bass throughout the summer and early fall months. Hitting the lake at night will allow you to completely avoid crowds, hot daytime temperatures and inactive bass. Night fishing for bass is by far the best way to take your lake and your summertime fishing back.