Fishing at night, in my opinion, is about stealth. Simple.
Be that bait, lure or fly, if you want the best results the fish can’t know you’re there. This applies not only to Bass fishing but all fishing at night in my experience. Starting from the second you arrive at your chosen location, ask yourself, has anyone seen you? Are you fishing alongside anyone else? do they understand the means of stealth and how will they affect your fishing? Anglers should generally respect one another and unless I know the angler will choose not to fish alongside others at night for risk of negatively affecting each others fishing.
It is good practice to be quiet on your approach to the water, yes running and leaping your way to the water will get you fishing quicker, but may leave you with nothing to fish for so quiet along the rocks, shingle and pebbles. Now you’re nearing the water I’m hoping you’ve kept your headlight off the water if on at all…yes we are anglers, not special forces, I’ll accept using your light to get down to the water but remind you of caution. Now we stand by the water in darkness, allow time for your eyes to adjust, a rushed angler makes mistakes, you’ll be surprised how much your vision improves given a few seconds to adjust. Now we can see we can enter the water…but only if we need to!
I can recall one night while out bass fishing on a large sandy beach when I didn’t enter the water and kept to the sand, flicking the lure behind the microwaves lapping the shoreline focusing my attention on the rocky patches and soon I was into a plumb bucket mouth Bass. I worked my way along and managed another two smaller fish and then when meeting up with the other two I was with who had, even quietly, waded out into the waves and caught nothing. It was on this occasion that it hit home exactly how close Bass will come to the shoreline at night. Since then the motto has been only wade if you must, only light up if its big.
Using a headlight…
Another good tactic for in the dark is to have a torch or headlight with a red mode. This helps maintain your vision when used and you’re not left with a blacked out vision for a few seconds which, while stumbling around on the rocks can be lethal. I’ll try keep the usage to a minimum and as I’ve already touched on always off the water. Unless I’m landing a big fish over sketchy ground, then safety takes priority.
My mindset towards fishing at night…
I guess the approach I’ve adopted at night is similar to that of what someone fly fishing at night for seatrout would take. I’ve started to adopt a different attitude at night while fishing, not wanting to see anyone, staying away from where others are fishing out of respect and as a help to you both in case you were to make a mistake or be a headlight flasher, spoil their experience or vice versa…saying this I do always endeavour to fish with a partner at night whenever possible, making a plan amongst you on your approach and where you will fish. One of the biggest factors dictating being a stealthy angler is your approach to the water, get down to the water quietly, avoiding any light on the water. Clip your lure on in the dark or with your red mode away from the water and then take a few seconds to make sure you have a secure footing and are aware of what the conditions are doing while giving your eyes that extra bit of time to adjust, you may have now spotted that there are a few dodgy looking rocks in front of you or that the swell is larger than expected and maybe a few steps back would be wise to keep you away from larger sets of waves.
There’s a couple of other safety considerations that you can take at night, I personally always carry a whistle with me at night along with making sure I have a working, fully charged headlight with me. Another factor is to make sure you dress appropriately layering up for the cold but able to take some off for hiking to marks and if the temperature doesn’t drop too much as darkness falls. Again it’s always wise especially over rocky ground to fish with a trusted partner and to ensure at least one of you has a phone should anything go wrong…that way help is just a call away. A backup light can also be useful along with having a bit of reflective print or tape on your clothing or accessories should you searched for, there’s some great iron on reflective strips you can buy that can easily be added to your clothing.
Targeting Bass at night is a totally different and exciting experience, your sense are all exaggerated, your sense of touch and feel is exhilarated and the sounds around you echo. The fish can be of a better size and the fight will have you rushing with adrenaline and nerves as a Bass thrashes and dives out in the darkness as you have no idea what rock or boulder it will tear off for next!