August is a month when I'm not fishing many tournaments, but it's also a tough month to fish on most of our lakes in South Carolina. For one thing, it's hot - no way around it. If you like to roast out in 95-degree mid-day heat, it's your time. For another, August is a big month for water skiers and jet skiers; all the recreational boaters will be on the lake cooling off, doing their thing.
But there is a way around the heat and the boat wakes. I do most of my fishing during the summer, and especially in August, at night. You don't have to deal with the boat traffic, and obviously, it feels a lot better to be out there when it's not as hot.
The third factor is one I can't prove but truly believe: bigger bass don't feed as much when it's real hot, and when they do, they feed mostly at night, so fishing at night gives you a better chance to catch a big fish than daytime fishing. And there aren't many of us who will turn down a chance to catch a big bass.
So when I put in all those factors: no boat traffic, not as much heat, the joy of being out on the water relaxing and the opportunity to catch a big bass, you really need to be out there.
One thing I have learned over the years is that you don't have to fish any different at night from the way you fish during the daytime. I grew up thinking that if you fished at night, you had to fish a topwater bait, something like a Jitterbug or a buzzbait. You had to fish something that made a lot of noise that they could hear because it was dark.
But that isn't true; you can catch them at night on just about anything you catch them on during the daytime: crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, worms and topwater baits.
The other thing to remember is to fish around the best available cover. On a lot of our lakes in South Carolina, that means boat docks. They're favorite targets of fishermen just about everywhere except Santee Cooper, and even at Santee, you can fish docks in Potato Creek, Wyboo and Eutaw creeks.
You'll find docks that are lit by lights actually out on the docks, or by lights on the walkways down to docks, or in yards or even street lights. Any kind of lighting can help you see to fish around them. Docks are one of your biggest targets at night, and they're the first things I fish when I get out as dusk.
Another thing I've found over the years is that you don't just fish docks; you look for a pattern. Some nights, fish will be out on the front of docks, other times under the walkway, or in a foot of water up against the bank, or maybe out in front of the docks on brush. You need to pay attention to a lot of things; it's more complex than just pulling up and casting to a dock.
The first thing you pay attention to is how deep the water is on the end of the dock. Next, you have to figure out where they are on the dock, and are they holding on the bottom or are they suspended up under the platform. You need to pay special attention to the bites you get. Did your bait fall all the way to the bottom before you got bit, and if it didn't, how soon after it started to fall did the fish take it?
It may take you a couple of bites to figure it out, but when you start to detect a pattern, it's just like fishing during the day; you can key in on that certain part of the dock and fish it a certain way, and you'll be much more productive.
When it comes to fishing at night, you can catch fish on just about every bait you do during the day, but my first thought is to fish a jig or a big worm, a big bait that will present a big silhouette and will draw a big bite. I don't think you'll catch the big fish on topwater that you will at night on a jig or a worm.
My No. 1 bait at night is a black, half-ounce Mop Jig, with a Trigger-X Goo Bug trailer in black/red or black/blue. The Goo Bug is sort of a creature bait; it comes with some of its legs attached to each other. If you fish it that way, it lets a jig sort of glide down. If fish are suspended, you want that kind of action on the fall. Then, you can detach the legs from each other so they wiggle and vibrate independently on the way down. If you're fishing a dock that isn't well lit, or if the bass are on the bottom, you might want to fish the trailer rigged that way so that the legs will flutter and vibrate more on the fall.
The other bait I'll definitely have tied on at night will be a 10-inch Trigger-X Hammer worm, Texas-rigged, in black. I fish both of those baits on a 7-foot, medium-heavy All-Star worm/jig rod. I don't fish them on a flipping stick, just a medium-heavy baitcaster.
And depending on the conditions and how deep you're fishing, you might experiment with weights and sizes. You might have to go down to a 3/8-inch jig or maybe move up from a 3/16-ounce bullet weight to a half-ounce weight. You have to adjust to the depth you're fishing and when you're getting bit.
So take a page from this night-fisherman's book and get out after dark. You can start at dusk and fish a few hours, or you can decide you're going to fish at night. Just take advantage of the opportunities that fishing at night present you - and think about how much you're going to enjoy not competing with jet skis and 95-degree heat.