Tag Archive for Bass Fishing at Night

Lake of the Ozarks Offers Plenty of Action After Dark

By John Neporadny Jr

You can beat the heat and summertime crowds by fishing at night on the Lake of the Ozarks. When the moon shines and the water calms down, the fishing action picks up for bass, crappie and catfish.

Some fish can be taken during the day, but night fishing offers a cooler alternative and the fish seem to feed more after dark. From mid-June to the latter part of July, nocturnal trips for bass are productive on the Big and Little Niangua arms where the fish hold in brush piles around docks. In the Little Niangua, flipping behind docks in coves also takes bass at night. Fish lights on the back of a dock are good attractants for bass, especially if there is a brush pile within 5 feet of it because the light brings the bugs in, which brings the baitfish and big bass in.

During the last part of July and in August, concentrate on brush piles on the Osage arm around the Lodge of the Four Seasons. Bass seem to prefer main lake structure later inthe summer. Points can be ideal spots to check at night because the fish move out to deep, cooler water during the day, but after midnight when the water starts to cool down they will come up on the shelves. Water color has little effect on night fishing since bass can be taken in clear or off-color conditions. The key is to find brush piles either on the main lake or other areas that have deep water nearby. Any brush pile sitting in 5 feet of water or deeper will hold bass at night.

The depth of the fish varies throughout the night as they come up to feed at certain times. Start your evening fishing the brush piles 5 to 10 feet deep and when the fish stop biting in the brush, move up shallower in search of bass roaming and feeding behind the docks. As morning approaches, move back to the brush piles.

Picking the best time after dark to catch bass can be difficult because the action can be non-stop some nights or there will be lulls between bites other nights. If there’s a full moon, the fish might bite all night. Other times the fish bite during periods such as 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. or daylight to 8 am.

Magnum-size plastic worms (10 or 11 inches) and jigs are excellent night-time lures. Plastic worms in darker hues, such as black, blue fleck, June bug and red shad, work well along with a brown or black 3/8-ounce jig with a rattle and some type of pork chunk or double-tail plastic grub trailer in a bluegill color. Retrieve the worm and the jig in the same fashion. Let the lure fall into the brush and crawl it through the limbs. Sometimes the fish suspend around the brush piles, so you should lift the worm up over the brush and then let it drop down into it, then lift it out of the brush again and let it drop back to get the fish that are suspended around the brush.

Another technique also produces at night for bass. Try a 3/8-ounce black spinnerbait with a silver willowleaf blade and a black twin-tail trailer, which should be slow rolled over the chunk rocks.

Nights are also a prime time to drift for catfish. When the wind calms in the evening, head for a the back of a cove and rig your rods with shad and frozen shrimp. Spend the rest of the evening and into the early morning drifting the cove for catfish.

If you don’t have a boat, resort docks also provide good night action for a variety of fish. Most of the resorts have sunken brush piles around the docks, which become havens for bass and crappie. Bass can be taken from the brush on plastic worms or jigs. The best crappie action occurs in the brush piles located under lights that shine directly into the water. The lights set off a chain reaction as microorganisms are attracted to the lit area, followed by baitfish and then crappie. Minnows, jigs or a jig tipped with a minnow catch crappie under the lights. Some crappie anglers also get in on a bonus catch when a school of white bass move under the lights to feed on shad. Tight-lining off the docks with live bait or stink baits is an effective way to take catfish at night.

As the temperatures rise, take the day off and try some fishing under the stars at the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks this summer. For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 152-page vacation guide, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau web site at funlake.com.

Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” are available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.

Fish The Third Shift For Best Bass Action

By John Neporadny Jr.

If Count Dracula were a bass fisherman, he would have enjoyed fishing Lake of the Ozarks in August. The old vampire has his fun from dusk to dawn, and nocturnal fishing provides the best action for bass anglers in August at the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri.

One angler who prefers fishing in the dark during August is Harold Stark, Eldon, Mo.  Stark has been fishing on the Lake of the Ozarks since 1979 and is a former Red Man All American championship qualifier.

“August is probably the best month to night fish on the Lake of the Ozarks,” Stark says.  “The fish are in a stable pattern then and will stay in that pattern until September.  Once you find two or three spots that are holding fish, you can go back there twice a week all the way through the month and take fish out of those spots.  Schools move in and out of those spots all night long.  You can get in one spot and catch 25 to 30 fish and you can do it every week.”

Quality fish can be taken during the month.  “In August you can catch bass up to 7 pounds,” Stark says.  “You don’t see many over 7 pounds come out of the Lake of the Ozarks like you do in the spring, but you will see several 7-pounders come out of there.”

Stark starts his evening on the water at about 7 p.m.  He suggests getting to your favorite area before sunset so that you won’t have to spend as much time running around in the dark.  Although Stark mostly fishes during the week, he says weekend fishing can be good after the boat traffic dies down.

The type of night doesn’t matter to Stark.  “I’ve caught them on nights when it was raining all night long and other nights I’ve caught them when there was a full moon.

The type of day probably affects the night fishing more than the nighttime weather.  If the day has been cloudy or rainy, the best fishing occurs during the late evening or the first couple of hours after sunset.  “If you have a few weeks of real hot weather where it’s been nothing but sunshine and bluebird skies, they’ll bite all night long,” Stark says.

Stark lists the Niangua, Grand Glaize, Gravois and North Shore areas and the Osage arm up to the 60-mile mark as the best night-fishing areas.  He prefers fishing the Gravois and North Shore areas.  “I think there’s a higher concentration of fish that are more active in those two areas during the  summertime,” Stark says.  “They’re  not bothered by boat traffic because they put up with boat traffic all day long.”

No matter which arm of the lake he fishes, Stark concentrates on the same type of structure–brush piles 15 to 25 feet deep on the main channel.  “It helps if there is a dock around or a lot of docks where those fish can get in there and congregate.”  It’s also easier to find the brush piles in the dark if they are near docks.

You can leave your suitcase-sized tacklebox at home when you go night fishing.  Stark suggest taking only three types of lures–plastic worms, jigs  and spinnerbaits.  Use an 8-inch or longer plastic worm in your favorite color with a 3/16th- to 5/16th-ounce worm weight.  A blue 1/2-ounce jig with a blue or black plastic trailer also works well.  Or try a 1/2-ounce black or purple short-arm spinnerbait with a blue plastic chunk trailer.

“August is a good time to start throwing that spinnerbait,” Stark says.  “Those fish see those plastic worms and jigs all the time.  Throw the spinnerbait down there and fish it just like a plastic worm.”

The key to night fishing is to work everything slowly.  “The slower the better,” Stark says.  Slowly roll the spinnerbait to where you can barely feel the blade turning.

You can use any rod-and-reel combination that will handle 12-pound test line for night fishing.  “A lot of people use real heavy line, but you don’t have to at night because whenever you hit those fish, they’ll come right on up, even those bigger fish.”  Stark uses 12- to 14-pound test line, which is more sensitive than the heavier line and gives him better control of his lures.  He says he’s never had to use any lighter line for night fishing.

If your line tangles up or you need to retie, you might need some extra light.  “Always take a flashlight because you never know what you’re going to run into out there,” Stark says.

Stark rarely relies on lights when fishing at night though. “I don’t use any lights at all.  If I’m in a spot where I know I’m not going to get run over, I won’t even have the boat lights on.”   He says he turns off the navigation lights if his boat is within 50 feet of the shore.

Avoiding light.  Dusk-to-dawn action.  Bats flying around. Maybe Count Dracula has fished Lake of the Ozarks before.

For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 162-page  vacation guide, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau web site at funlake.com.

Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” are available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.

Best Lures For Lake of the Ozarks Night Bassin’

By John Neporadny Jr


Lures for Lake of the Ozarks Night Fishing

As the searing summer sun heats up the water, bass relax in the cooler realm of deep water or the shade of heavy cover. Since the fish become reluctant to leave this cool domain during the heat of the day, you are limited to using lures that remain in the bass’ comfort zone longer.

However when the sun goes down and the water cools, the bass’ comfort zone expands from top to bottom, especially in the clear water sections of the Lake of the Ozarks.  As bass become more active during the nocturnal hours they start craving a late-night snack. So now your lure choices expand to a wider array of options ranging from topwaters to bottom-bouncing baits.

Veteran nighttime anglers know a bunch of tackle boxes and rods and reels strewn out all over the boat’s deck after dark can result in broken tackle or a quick trip overboard. So they keep their decks clean and prevent any mishaps by picking a handful of productive lures for nocturnal bass.

A local angler who enjoys the nightlife on Lake of the Ozarks is Marty McGuire, who competes in night tournaments nearly every week during the summer on his home waters. The night-fishing expert offers the following selections as the best lures for catching bass after sunset.

Plastic Worms

When bass burrow into cover or hug the bottom at night, McGuire relies on a slow-moving lure such as a plastic worm for fishing in clear water or a jig in murky or stained conditions.

His home lake is filled with sunken brush piles so McGuire prefers a Texas-rigged worm or weedless jig for working through the limbs. If fishing pressure is heavy, McGuire uses a 7-inch plastic worm, but his favorite lure for most nights is a 10-inch black or blue fleck Berkley Power Worm impaled on a 4/0 or 5/0 hook. The Missouri angler opts for the magnum-size worm because he believes in the theory that bigger fish prefer bigger baits.

Since he mainly fishes the worm in the 10- to 20-foot depth range, McGuire rigs his worms with the same size weight (1/4-ounce bullet slip sinker) most of the time. “It gets to the bottom quick enough but it also falls slow enough in case the fish are hitting on the fall,” suggests McGuire.

The worm produces for McGuire during the middle of summer along main lake points and ledges or along steep banks halfway back in coves and creeks. Sunken brush piles are McGuire’s favorite target for nighttime worm fishing but he also takes bass from rock piles and steel support poles or boat hoists on docks.

Slowly lifting and dropping the worm works best for McGuire, especially when fishing brush. “I usually let it get down into the brush pile, then just raise my rod up (to the 11 or 12 o’clock position),” describes McGuire. “I usually hold the rod a little higher than most people to pull the worm up over the limbs and work it through the brush real slow. Then I drop the rod down to let the worm fall back to the bottom while keeping contact with the bait the whole time.”


If he’s fishing off-colored water at night, McGuire switches to a jig and heads for the shallows. Pitching a jig behind boat docks is one of McGuire’s favorite tactics for shallow nocturnal bass.

The night-fishing expert prefers a 3/8- to ½-ounce live rubber jig in black or blue combined with a Zoom plastic chunk in the same colors.

McGuire also relies on his rod to impart action with his jig, but he retrieves this lure different than the worm. His retrieve consists of three to four quick pumps of his rod tip (1 to 2 inches at a time), reeling up slack and then another succession of quick pumps. “It really doesn’t move the jig up and down a whole lot it is more like a shake,” says McGuire.

Since presentations for both lures are similar, McGuire uses the same tackle for the worm and jig. He opts for a 7- to 7-½ foot medium-heavy to heavy action rod and a high-speed baitcast reel (6.1:1 or higher gear ratio) spooled with 20-pound test line. The veteran night angler prefers the heavy line and high-speed reel for quickly jerking bass away from brush and boat docks.

If the summer sun makes fishing unbearable on Lake of the Ozarks during the day, you can still enjoy some hot bass action after dark. For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 152-page vacation guide, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau web site at funlake.com. 

Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” are available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.

Avoid the Crowds of Summer by Fishing at Night

By Marc Rogers

Bass Fishing at Night

As summer gets into full swing the lakes and waterway become full of everything from large boats to personal watercraft. The waters get churned up and running a fishing boat becomes more trouble than it seems worth at times. When this change begins to take place it is time for the avid angler to resort to bass fishing at night.

Many bass tournaments are held at night during this part of the year due to the increased watercraft traffic during the day. When an angler uses good judgment operating their boat at night it is sometimes safer for them than operating a fishing (bass) boat during the day. Also, the catch rate can be better as well.

I personally take the time to plan my fishing trips during the nighttime hours in the early to late summer. I find this time to be more relaxing than trying to contend with the other recreational boaters that use the daytime hours for their enjoyment.

While bass fishing during the night I tend to rely on a large plastic worm of 10 – 12 inches in length as well as a jig. Most often the angler is more productive to fish baits that allow for a slow moving presentation. There have been times when a crank bait or spinner bait will be more productive but generally this isn’t the case. Spinner baits can be used in the ¾ ounce size with a large single Colorado blade to get great vibration and still work them slowly.

If I had to settle on one lure for all of my night time fishing it would be a 10-inch plastic worm rigged Texas style with a 5/0 offset hook and a 5/16 ounce bullet sinker. I always use dark green colored line but many anglers prefer the florescent blue line and add a black light on the side of their boat for better line visibility. If you were a line watcher during your daylight fishing it would be a good idea to try the black light and florescent blue line.

My second choice for a nighttime lure is the ¾ ounce spinner bait in dark colored skirts with a large single Colorado blade. This lure is best worked very similar to a jig with a more pronounced lifting action. I lift the bait until the blades can be felt turning and then allow it to fall on a tight line.  Many times a bass will pick up the bait on the fall and the tight line is needed to detect the strike.  This presentation allows the angler to gain the advantage of both the jig and spinner bait using just one lure.

The third choice would be a football head jig for nighttime bass fishing. I choose the football head jig design due to its ability to avoid getting hung up in the many rocks that make up the bottom composition of the Ozark lakes that I regularly fish. With the jig I will vary my presentation between a bouncing off the bottom to a slow drag along the bottom until the fish show which presentation they prefer.

Anglers prefer a wide variety of lures when fishing during these hours, but despite the lure, the best presentation is usually slow. While the bass can easily detect the presence of a lure at night the sense of sight is still less useful than that of the bass feeding during the day.

As long as good sound judgment for safety is practiced by the angler, nighttime fishing in the mid-summer season is the best way for anglers to avoid them many crowded lakes in the busy recreational season.  Furthermore, the fishing can be excellent as with many night tournaments the winning weight of a five bass stringer can exceed 20 pounds.