Monster Bass after Midnight
By Paul Prentiss

This article Appeared in the daily camera. What was not included were some of the pictures at the end. You may find the fly patters of particular interest because theses are the hot patterns…..
As daytime temperatures rise in June and the dog days of July and August arrive, you need to change tactics when fishing for warm water species like Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass. These fish seek deep water and/or heavy cover due to water temperature and light sensitivity. What's the answer? Fish at night! Under the cover of darkness fish become far more aggressive and accessible.

I fish occasionally at night, but two friends and associates at Front Range Anglers, Jon Spiegel and Danny Smith, log 40+ days of summer night fishing annually. They have caught very large bass in and around Boulder. You'll find their views interesting and insightful.

Jon Spiegel with a big smile after landing a nice Largemouth Bass
Why fish at night; won't you get the same results early in the morning or at dusk?
"We're insomniacs who prefer to fish alone. Actually, there are three great reasons to fish at night: (1) the water temperature drops significantly (roughly 5 degrees per hour after midnight) which puts bass on the feed; (2) These fish are opportunistic predators and the food sources they feed on are active in the shallows after dark; and (3) Fishing is simply easier - our catch rate increases by four fold."

Does a moonlit night help or detract from the fishing?
"Without question fishing is best at full moon. The added advantage is that you can see your top water flies and keep your fly on target."
"We always scout out the areas we intend to fish in daylight. The moon just makes the process much easier."
"Top water fishing can be fantastic on a moonlit night. We use a lot of poppers because they are easy to tie and cast. Imagine stripping in a size 2 gurgler (foam popper). With each strip you can hear the popping and see the water splash in the moonlight; then without warning a strike! The water explodes and you set the hook and find you're connected to a freight train!"

What percentage of your nighttime fishing is within 10 miles of Boulder and what was your best fish in the last 12 months?
"100% of our bass fishing is adjacent to Boulder and 50% of it is on public water."
"The best fish taken in the last year was caught in a lake inside the city limits. It weighed 8-pounds even. Remember, bass are not the only species we target at night but that's another story."

A nice Largemouth caught in a public park lake within the city limits
What are your equipment preferences for nighttime fishing?
"90% of our fishing takes place in float tubes and pontoon boats. Occasionally, we fish from shore but it's very easy to get tangled in the bushes or vegetation."
"Any aspiring fishermen will need a 6-weight or better rod, floating line and a 9-foot leader. Most important of all is to practice casting. You need to be able to visualize your cast and know when to terminate it when things go astray."
"Keep your equipment simple and minimal. It is dark. Don't make your first experience one of rummaging through the forty different pockets in a vest trying to find that one box with streamers."

How do you find places to fish?
"First off, you need to realize that many public parks and recreational locations have a curfew. It's a good idea to check with Parks and Recreation or other controlling agencies. In point of fact we have become friendly with some of the local police who know what we are doing and appreciate a call when trouble arises."
"There are all kinds of maps available for free or at nominal cost from the City, DOW, and others. You find a likely spot and check it out (in the daytime). Keep in mind the City owns a huge number of lakes. Some are off limits and others are not - it takes time and a lot of research."

On a typical night, when do you start fishing?
"We start getting ready at 10:30 pm - prime time is from 12:00 pm to 2:30 am. Keep in mind that the moon comes up later as the summer wears on."
"At this time of night the lake has calmed down and the fish have established themselves in the shallows. We almost always fish towards shore in the shallows."

Do you use the same lures and techniques that you employ during daylight hours?
"We'll use heavier tippets (2X to 3X), and large flies (black or purple). Wooly Bugger styles predominate. We want to use flies that move a lot of water - flies incorporating rubber legs are definitely favored."
"Many bass fishermen use very heavy tippet material (15 or 20-pound test is not uncommon) but we stay with much lighter material because of the improved action it gives a fly. Losing flies is just part of the process."
"During the day we spend a lot of time sight casting to fish (crayfish patterns are a favorite) but at night it's a different story. We cover likely spots and then come back and fish them again. Fish are constantly moving in and out of these areas."

Do you have any other comments or recommendations?
"Fishing late at night serves up plenty of difficulty and frustration. It's not for everyone but if you're after really large fish it's the best time. If you would like more information stop by and see us."