If you’re really into bass fishing, you’re not just hitting the water on warm days whenever work will let you go, you’re trying every time of the day, season, and year. There are no periods you won’t try to fish during unless they’re absolutely too dangerous to be worth it (such as severe storms).
So, this guides the folks who aren't content with lazy Sunday afternoon fishing trips and who are interested in bass fishing and the full moon.
We’re going to cover one of the best times to nab bass, under the midnight moon. This can be a highly fruitful tactic, but there are certain challenges that present themselves at night that don’t impact anything during the day.
Let’s get started.
Do Bass Bite at Night?
Before we get into the tips, we want to dispel some of the common myths people perpetuate. One of these is that bass are daytime fish. That’s not true. Bass are highly active predators that are ready to bite at any time, given the water temperature and other environmental factors aren’t affecting their biology too much. Most people catch bass predominantly during the day because that’s when they’re comfortable going after them. Fishing at night is proven to provide real results.
Do the Moon’s Phases Affect Fishing?
This is one factor many fishermen, especially those who aren’t as experienced, don’t consider. The moon is more than just a floating light in the sky. It has a physical effect on our planet, and specifically, our bodies of water.
The ocean pulls and pushes ocean currents with its gravitational pull. This creates tides. Obviously, fish respond to those tidal shifts, even in ponds and smaller lakes, since their homes are literally being shaken up. However, the effect isn't the same all the time. The moon changes its distance from Earth as it orbits, and that means that its effect on the water is different at certain times.
So, yes, the phases of the moon affect your ability to fish. Oddly enough, they can even affect your average daytime fishing journeys. The fish are pretty good at predicting the moon’s patterns, and they can become more or less active depending on what phase is coming up.
Tips for Fishing According to the Full Moon
Whether you’re fishing during the day, or you’re heading out for some night fishing, the phase of the moon is important.
If you’re unfamiliar with what it’s like to consider this during your fishing trips, here are some tips to get you started with bass fishing and the full moon.
1: The Full Moon is Ideal
The fuller the moon, the closer it is to the Earth, and the more effect it has on the tides. When the full moon comes out, it tends to trigger a feeding frenzy as smaller fish go berserk and the larger predators take advantage of it.
Of course, other moon phases can see tons of activity, but when the full moon hits, the effects are usually immediately noticeable, especially if you’re fishing at night.
2: Study the Lunar Phases
Tech goes a long way in the fishing world, and of course, there is a fishing app that will tell you what the current moon phase is, or what it will be further down the line, but it’s still information that you should be able to figure out on your own.
By studying the moon phases and how they come about, you'll learn more than just "this is what the moon will be like on August 24". You'll get an understanding of what times of day those moon phases start to affect the water, how many full moons you're going to get during the optimal fishing season, and other more nuanced information that will let you custom-tailor your fishing trips for maximum potential.
Use the tech for convenience, but put in the effort to learn about it the old-fashioned way, too.
3: Fish at Night
Fishing at night provides two major benefits when you’re going off the lunar phases.
First, there's the obvious benefit of increased fish activity if you fish on the full moon or one of the other phases that tend to trigger insane fish activity. That's probably the main benefit you gain since active fish are a lot easier to catch than lethargic fish.
However, you also get the benefit of isolation.
Not many fishermen hit the water at night, and even if they're paying attention to the lunar phases, they probably stay out until the sun goes down, and then they head home. It's not uncommon at all to get out on the lake at night, and not see anyone else nearby. Of course, those who primarily target catfish go out a lot at night, but if you come across any, their drastically different fishing methods mean they won't be interrupting your bass fishing, and they tend to stay far away, anyways. It's a lot better than fighting for spots in the middle of the day.
4: Temperature is Key
Fishing during the full moon at night is a great opportunity, but there’s a drawback since nighttime brings dramatic temperature drops.
Even in the summer, if it’s a relatively cool day, the water temperature can easily drop to temperatures that bass don’t want to move around in. So, you need to check the temperature and put a bit of planning into your trip.
If you’ve noticed that there are some hotter days coming up, and one of those days is a full moon, plan a nighttime fishing trip, and wait until around 10 PM to 12 PM. The water temperatures that were insanely high during the day and difficult to fish in will suddenly drop to comfortable temperatures for the fish, pair that with the feeding frenzy triggered by the moon, and you can easily end up with back-to-back catches out of nowhere.
5: Lighting and Gear Visibility
Since much of this guide revolves around night fishing, we have to talk about visibility. It’s easy to see where you’re walking, casting, and generally doing things when it’s bright, sunny, and comfortable. At night, things get a bit more complicated.
First, your visibility goes way down for obvious reasons. There just isn’t enough light, and considering most good fishing spots don’t have tons of human structures and electrical systems installed all over the place, you won’t have things like park lights to rely on. You need your own lighting.
Head-mounted flashlights are perfect for bank fishermen, and if you're on a boat, getting a spotlight can be a perfect choice. Just be careful not to blind other anglers or scare off the fish with too high of a beam.
The type of gear you use should also be switched up a bit. The fish have lower visibility as well. That means that you can get away with a Hi-Vis line that is easier for you to track in the water, without scaring the fish off. If you use a rig that takes advantage of floats, try some of the light-up floats that will help you track your rig if it moves out of range of your light. Finally, there are some best bass fishing lures that incorporate LED technology that are perfect for fishing during a full moon. Not only do the lights make them easier for fish to spot, but all that flashing can really trigger reaction bites from bass that are already more than willing to take down anything they see.
However, there is one thing that a lot of fishermen forget about when they plan a trip like this, and while it doesn’t directly affect visibility, it can affect your ability to fish if you don’t do anything about it, bug swarms.
Being on the water at night almost guarantees that you’ll be around seemingly endless mosquitoes and other bugs that love nothing more than annoying anglers. If you’re swatting mosquitoes away nonstop, you’re not focusing on fishing, and that means you’re going to miss a lot of good bites and opportunities. Make sure to bring along proper bug protection, and wear the right clothes to minimize how much of your skin is there for them to mess with.
6: Embrace Technology
You might have picked up on this one with our recommendations for LED lures and such, but embracing modern fishing tech really will help you make the most of your fishing trips, especially when you’re working with lunar phases.
Apps, nighttime-friendly fish finders, and other bits of tech geared towards either helping you plan your trip or fish more effectively once you’re there are tools that will up your game, primarily ones that help you get a better understanding of the lunar phases and what your hemisphere is experiencing.
You don’t even have to take the more intrusive tech items to the water with you. We know most fishermen like to escape that kind of thing when they fish, but the most useful apps for taking advantage of the full moon will be used BEFORE you go fishing, so you can feel comfortable turning your ringer down or leaving your phone in the truck.
Also, online resources can be instrumental in helping you develop a keen understanding of the lunar phases, outside of the context of fishing, which you can then apply to your fishing trips, all without paying a dime.
7: Fish Aggressively
As we said, the full moon makes the bass get pretty aggressive. You need to match that aggression with your fishing style. Baitfish are swimming around frantically to grab insects, and the bass is moving faster to keep up with them.
You should start with faster retrieval methods, bright lures, and preferably, lures with lots of action. This will make your lure stand out among the schools of bait fish without giving it an unnatural appearance, and it’ll look far livelier than a slow, methodical presentation.
8: Try Bigger Lures
Any time there is a feeding frenzy, it's time to bust out the bigger lures, at least to give them a whirl and see if they work. This will put off a bigger silhouette among the bait fish, and it'll attract the bigger bass that are joining in on the action but are in need of something bigger than your standard lures. Longer soft-plastics, full-sized swim baits, and similar options are good to try first. If you're not getting the bites you expect, you can try to downsize a little. You don't have to solely target monsters even if the opportunity to catch multiple of them is higher.
9: Join in on the Catfishing Conversation
We know. Bass fishermen and catfish anglers are always at odds. One sees the other as targeting boring, slow fish, and the other sees bass fishermen as bait fish anglers. It’s all rather childish. However, if you plan on going bass fishing at night according to lunar phases, you might learn a thing or two by listening in on catfishing forums.
While bass fishing is typically done during the day, and most anglers go during peak catching periods, catfish anglers are used to night fishing, and a lot of them swear by the lunar phases. The cool thing is when the cats are biting at night, so are the bass, they go off the same principle.
So, pull up your big-boy pants, hop into an online catfishing group, and check for conversations about the local night fishing in your area. That highly localized information can be more useful than what general, non-geographically-specific, information is from most resources. Just, don’t comment when they’re rambling on about their big Flatheads and how bass are “bait fish”.
10: Focus on Planning
Most of the things we've highlighted so far aren't done during the actual trip itself, they're planning steps to ensure your trip's results are maximized. So, focus on planning these trips out more than you would that spur-of-the-moment trip you're used to whenever you get a personal day at work.
Put time into looking at in-depth fishing forecasts as well as weather forecasts, how they lineup with the lunar phases over the next month, the types of ponds and lakes you have to choose from to make the most out of your trip, and of course, the type of water you'll need to adapt your gear too.
For more bass fishing tips and our in-depth assistance app, check out BassForecast.