If the blistering sun has you running for cover, then bass fishing after dark is for you. William Small, who organizes night tournaments at Falls of the Neuse Lake, targets bass as they transition to the more shallow water from the points and ledges where they spend the daylight hours. When he’s fishing at night, he has three lures he won’t leave the dock without.
Small touts Zoom’s Ol’ Monster as his No. 1 lure after dark.
“It’s a big 10 ½-inch curlytail worm that I’ll either Texas-rig or Carolina-rig,” he said. "I like to drag it through structure on the slope, making sure to bump the bottom and occasionally lift the rod tip to make it hop. I think color is more important to the fisherman than the fish. If it’s a really dark night, I will use the darkest color I have, but I prefer to use whatever I was catching fish on during the day, I like watermelon."
Small's trick to Carolina-rigging a worm at night is to add a few more plastic beads between his barrel swivel and weight.
"That makes the rig have a clicking noise and helps the bass find it. I use the smallest weight to keep contact with the bottom, between ¼- and 3/8-ounce," he said.
No. 2 on Small's list of after-dark baits is a ¾-ounce football jig in a natural crawfish color, with a soft-plastic crawfish trailer, believing the vibration of the claws helps alert bass after dark.
"Sometimes they just prefer the jig, especially if you’re fishing rocks where the crawfish live," he said.
Last but not least is a black buzzbait.
“Some nights, if you’re not fishing a buzzbait, then you’re not getting bit,” said Small. “I like to fish it around the bridges too.”
He said it’s usually necessary to “burn” the bait at night, with a fast retrieve, to pull bass up.
“I’ll put it on a 7:1 reel to bring it in fast,” he said, noting that baitfish activity at the surface usually indicates good opportunities for topwater action.
“My advice for night-fishing is to go to a ledge where you’ve caught fish during the day and look for those fish to be 3 to 5 feet shallower,” Small said. “When they move up, they’re going there to feed. I think you catch a lot of fish that you wouldn’t have caught during the day, nice ones.”