The lyrics of Ronnie Milsap's old refrain spill out of a lower Broadway honky-tonk and onto the sidewalk, tantalizing early arrivals with a taste of Nashville Night Life. By the time lengthening shadows envelope the city, thousands of visitors and homefolk will converge on Second Avenue to fill the booths and barstools, hungry for chow, diversion and companionship. Nashville's entertainment corridor thrives in the dark.
Just a few minutes drive from the heart of downtown Nashville, the sun also sets on Old Hickory and J. Percy Priest lakes, and anglers are gearing up for their own brand of excitement, for the tempo of life beneath the surface picks up a couple of beats after sunset, too.
By day, anglers on these urban reservoirs are plagued by the incessant whine of jet skis and the wakes of passing pleasure boats. Heavily pressured bass are spooky and often take refuge where they're difficult to find. But when the sun goes down, tranquility descends on the lake. Anglers fish for hours without seeing or hearing a single jet ski. They might spy a dozen or two other bassboats during their hours of fishing, but rarely will they pull in to a honey hole to find someone else already there. The bass they find are frequently up shallow along bluffs, on shallow humps and feeding flats, and anglers are usually able to approach within flippin' distance without spooking them. To get the most out of your nighttime fishing, give thought to equipment and alter a few of the usual practices that you follow during the day.
One key to successful night fishing is to simplify your gear. Moving around a cluttered boat deck in darkness is a bad idea. Pare down your collection to just a few lures that you intend to use. Put them in a small tackle box that you can keep on the deck, dock, or bank. Decide which two or three rods you're most likely to use, and lay them over to one side, out of the way. Slip a recycled snuff can with worm rattles, hooks, weights, beads -- everything you'll need to retie soft plastics - into your jeans pocket. Make sure you have fresh batteries for your flashlight. Take a few extra safety precautions, and you're ready to launch.
Night Fishing Baits
In dim light, bass are unable to detect colors. Red, orange, yellow, and chartreuse all become shades of gray after dark. As twilight fades, blue is the last discernible color. Even though bass detect the presence of prey in their vicinity by vibrations and noise and use that to search for food, they are predominantly sight hunters. The lack of color doesn't seem to hinder night-stalking bass; they are much better equipped than humans at detecting shapes and movement. For that reason, select baits that help bass see the baits most clearly at night. For dark nights and shady areas, that means black or dark patterns that produce maximum contrast against the clay bottom or against a starlight surface. Carry some metallic (gold, nickel, and chrome) baits that can reflect the glints of dock lights and a full moon.
Here are the baits that you'll find in my night-fishing arsenal, from top of the water column to the bottom:
- 5/16-oz. Black Secret Weapon Buzzrbait, with a black plastic trailer rigged with a weedless stinger hook.
- Black Jitterbug
- Black Hula Popper
- Black Tiny Torpedo
- 1/2-oz. Midnight Snack Secret Weapon spinnerbait with black/blue tipped skirt and a black #5 or #6 Colorado blade, tipped with a dark pork or plastic trailer for dark-of-the-moon nights or in the shadows. An alternate gold Colorado blade can be clipped on for fishing around docks.
- On moonlit nights and around dock or parking lot lights, 1/2-oz. Moonlight Snack Secret Weapon spinnerbait with purple/blue flake skirt and either a black or nickel Colorado blade attachment.
- Bandit Series 100 crankbait that runs 2-6 feet deep. On cloudy or new-moon nights, as the bait runs overhead, the black profile is easier for upward-looking bass to spot than other colors against the starlight sky. Around dock lights and under the full moon, switch to the Chrome/Black Back pattern.
- Black 7-inch Berkley Power Worms, Texas-rigged or on a TitleSHot jig head.
- Black 4-inch tubes, T-rigged or on a TitleSHot jig head.
- Black lizard or other creature bait Carolina-rigged
- 3/8-oz. to 3/4-oz. black & blue jig with rattles, tipped with either a black plastic grub or a purple pork frog or eel.
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