Bass fishing is a staple of any fishing activity since bass are pretty easy to find and catch. However, if you know their peculiar behaviors, you’ll be able to find and catch more fish. For example, it helps to know the best times of the day to go bass fishing.
The best times of the day to go bass fishing are early morning and late afternoon. Bass are more active during these times because they can prey and feed more effectively. They have an advantage over their prey since they can see in low-light conditions and the temperatures are higher.
In the rest of the article, we’ll break down the best times of the day to catch bass according to the season. We’ll also talk about the best time of the day to catch different bass species. We’ll elaborate on the best locations to find bass in each season.
What Kind of Fish Are Bass?
Bass are visual predators that rely on the photic environment to catch their prey. However, if it’s too dark and they can’t see their prey, they won’t hunt. Their eyes have a protrusion through pupils that give them a wide view field. But they can’t open and close their pupils. So, they don’t change according to the light intensity. That’s not a serious problem since water can regulate the light that enters the eyes.
In daytime lights, the bass’s vision has excellent depth and color perception. When the light is low, the bass can absorb more light, which is an advantage over its prey. That’s why dawn and dusk are the best times of day to catch bass.
Bass use their sense of sight and feel to find their food and prey. Light is essential for them to find their prey, so they need a low degree of visible light. Low light conditions are best for their success in hunting. That’s why they perform best on cloudy days and near sunlight and sunset hours when they can detect their prey, but they’re almost invisible.
Best Times to Catch Bass in Each Season
Bass are most active in the early morning and late afternoon. So, it’s the best time of day to catch them. But, during different seasons, these times may change due to other factors that come into play.
The best time for bass fishing is spring because the temperatures are ideal for their feeding activities. During spring, bass focus on feeding and reproducing. Their food sources have run out due to winter consumption, and they need to feed before getting ready to spawn.
To find the best time to prey, they need warm temperatures. So, late afternoon is perfect for them since the water has been warming up all day long, and it’s at the highest temperature before starting to cool down for the night.
Plus, they have a visual advantage due to low light conditions. This way, they can have the ideal color and depth perception to detect their prey.
But since spring weather conditions and temperatures can be unpredictable, the best time of the day to catch bass may vary on different days. Especially during early spring, bass are more active during midday to afternoon (like winter). But in late spring, when the weather gets warmer, their activity patterns will be more similar to summer. So, you can find them around dusk and dawn.
Summer is also a tough time for bass fishing since water temperatures get up to 80 degrees in the morning. During summer, warmth can’t be a determining factor since the water is warm all-day round. But they need the advantage over their prey in terms of light. That’s why bass get more active near dusk and dawn when the sunlight is lower. During the summer, bass are more active during cool times, but midday can be a good time if it’s cloudy or the water is muddy.
You can also rely on the good bass bite at nights when the moon is full. Since they’re active during these nights, they can be docile the following morning since they’re full from the previous night’s preying. So, wait till the next evening when the bass is likely hungry again.
Fall is the critical time of year when the bass gets ready for the lean winter. They’re less active but look for baitfish such as shads and shiners. Early morning and late afternoon hours are the best times to fish during the fall. However, avoid fishing on cold days when the temperature drops suddenly.
If the lake freezes over during winter, it can be difficult to catch bass. Winter is the most challenging time of year to fish for bass because water temperatures can drop as low as 45 degrees. However, bass are available for fishing all the year in lakes that don’t freeze because bass remain pretty active. At freezing temperatures, the best time for bass fishing is during the warmest hours of the day, from noon until 4 pm. That’s when bass are the most active.
In the winter, bass focus on finding warm places and don’t care much about cover and concealment. So, light sensitivity isn’t much of a determining factor.
Most people believe it’s impossible to catch fish in frozen lakes. But ice doesn’t keep bass from moving around and looking for prey. So, look for them at these warm hours. You’ll have a better chance of finding fish during cloudy winter days when light is at its lowest.
Do Bass Bite at Night?
One of the best times to fish for bass is at night because they feed at night, too. Some anglers believe it’s even better than dawn and dusk because bass eat at night much more than any other time of day.
It will give you an advantage because there are fewer anglers at night. Especially during summer nights, you have a better chance because they use their lateral line and feeling to find food. Since there’s no light to help them find their prey, they hunker down in places where they’re more likely to find nocturnal prey.
The best baits are noisy ones that displace water, such as spinners, poppers, swimbaits, and buzz baits. Since bass rely on their sense of hearing at night, they’re more likely to bite these noisy baits.
The Influence of Weather on Bass Fishing
Sometimes, weather conditions are more important than the time of day because weather plays a crucial role in bass fishing. Before the weather gets cold and before a cold front, bass will gorge on all kinds of fish. So, you can fish them at any time of day.
When the cold front passes, bass need a few hours to adjust to the new temperatures. At this time, they don’t feed as aggressively, and they don’t bite well.
Rain can also affect bass activity because it increases oxygen in the water. It can also stir up water nutrients and drive insects into the water, stimulating bass to feed more.
Morning or Afternoon?
Most of the year, it’s better to fish for bass in the late afternoon than early morning. That’s because bass wait all day for the light to reduce and start preying. So, they bite better than morning. Plus, the water is warm due to the daytime temperatures. But as we said, late afternoon is better for spring and fall, while the early morning is better for late spring and summer.
And what do we mean by early morning or late afternoon? Early morning can range from 5:30 to 8:30. While this period can change according to the season, the bass get more active as the sunrise approaches.
Late afternoon spans 5 to 7:30. During the summer months, low light can last longer, depending on the region. So, you may be able to continue fishing until as late as 8 pm.
Best Time of Day To Catch Different Kinds of Bass
Different types of bass have varying feeding and moving patterns during different times of the day. So, if you look for a special kind of bass, you may want to consider the following:
Smallmouth bass are fierce predators with smaller mouths but similar sizes as the largemouth bass. They have many similar characteristics with largemouth bass. But they’re more active in the summer because the water temperatures are very high. They get hungrier because their metabolism is fast. So, you can haul in a ton during dawn hours and three hours before the sunset. If it’s cloudy and the water temperature is right, you’ll have a much better chance.
You can find largemouth bass in deep waters near dusk and dawn. They can take advantage of low-light and bite even when they aren’t hungry.
Striped bass live in temperatures within the range of 55 to 68°F (12 to 20°C). So, they have to migrate all year round to stay within this temperature range. They migrate during spring and fall. So, if you want to find striped bass, look for them in fall and spring, and at these temperatures, and during peak or slack tide. That’s mostly early morning and late evening. But don’t fish on cold days when the temperatures drop suddenly.
Where to Find Bass
Bass, and especially largemouth bass, are always on the move. Water temperatures, feeding patterns, spawning behavior, and avoiding predators are factors that affect these movements. So, in addition to the time of day, you should know where to look for them at different migration periods.
When the water gets warmer after the late winter ice-out, bass move up to shallow areas from deep waters. But they frequently change their positions between shallow and deep waters because the spring weather and temperatures are unpredictable.
Spawning desire is another factor that makes bass change their locations. Bass will show different behaviors before, during, and after spawning. Since this predatory fish is aggressive in feeding, you can catch it at any time of the day. But the most important thing that affects their chances of biting is their spawning habits. So, it’s worth considering the best time to catch them based on each season’s spawning period.
Bass have to feed aggressively to regain the energy and weight they lost during winter and get ready to spawn. They move up from deep waters to more shallow surfaces where the water is warmer. But if the shallows aren’t warm, they stay covered in deep water. Look for shoreline points next to deep water, depressions or channels in spawning beds, sharp breaks leading to big flats, or any place that can serve as pre-spawn locations.
Rocks and fallen trees can be good places to hold bass that move from deep waters to spawning coves. They stop at these isolated places to feed.
As soon as the spring sun warms up these shallows, bass will move toward them. The first places you can find them are shallow and muddy lakes rather than deep and clear waters.
Northern parts of the lakes and the south-facing shorelines are warmer because they get sunlight the longest during the day. Shaded areas aren’t the best places when it comes to the warmth bass need.
During the spawn, catching bass can be more challenging because their behavior patterns and energy change. They slow down and protect their cove. Plus, it isn’t easy to know when they exactly start spawning.
You need to keep track of spawning activities and patterns and watch the local fauna to detect the best spawning times.
Bass spawn in shallow areas where the water temperature has reached above 60°F (15°C). At first, they start spawning on the warmest and protected pasts of the lake. Hard bottoms near covers such as trees or bushes, stumps, or dock pilings are the best spawning shelters that protect bass from cold winds or predators.
However, water temperatures in shallow areas change quickly, especially at night. During cold fronts, they move back to deeper areas until the weather gets warm. So, if you found them at the shorelines before the cold front, go 5 to 10 feet (1.5-3 m) deeper.
Not all bass spawn at the same time. That’s a good opportunity for you since you can find bass on deep and shallow waters with fish at different spawning stages. Use low-light conditions as camouflage on spawning beds. This way, they can’t see you, but you can see them.
While males prepare the spawning beds, females wait in the areas nearby. So, if you see a male on the bed, look for females, which are larger than males, in deeper waters near the spawning cover.
It takes the female bass a few weeks to recover from spawning and regain its appetite. But when they do, they’ll feed aggressively. Meanwhile, you can rely on another opportunity to catch bass.
The post-spawn period presents a great opportunity to catch bass using bluegill as bait. After bass spawning is over, it’s time for bluegills to replace them and spawn in the same locations. Bass stay nearby, lurking around while bluegills spawn to prey on them. If you send wake baits in bluegill patterns, you’ll catch loads of bass.
The best places include large structures near spawning beds, such as shoreline pockets and shoreline points on the spawning bed’s sides. A great sign of bass colonies is early season bluegill spawning coves.
Summer is also a tough time of year to catch bass. That’s because of longer days, higher temperatures, and direct sunlight, which drive the bass to deeper locations. While they can go as deep as 20 feet, you can still find them at the 6 to 12-feet (1.8-3.6 m) depths.
The best bass haunts are well-defined weed edges. In the early morning, you can find bass toward the outside of the weeds wall. So, you can fish parallel to the weed edges. But they don’t stay there all day long. They’ll go down deeper or further inside the weeds to escape the sunlight and heat. At noon, the best place to find the bass is in shaded areas, either deep or shallow.
The fall is a great opportunity to fish for bass since they move to shallow areas to feed. Plus, you’ll have less competition because not many anglers fish at this time of year.
Early in the fall, you can find bass in the pre-spawn shallow areas. While the lake turns over, your job will be difficult, so wait until after turnover when the lake is clear. That’s when bass will find the end-of-season remaining weeds on the steep ledges. Don’t expect to find bass in brown weeds as they use up the oxygen in the area. So, look for green weeds only.
As we go further into the fall and near the winter, bass will move from flat shorelines to pile up on steep slopes.
Getting bass at 40 and 30 degrees is hard. Due to lowered metabolism, they don’t need much food, but they still bite. You can find bass on the bottom or points and humps.
Bass are visual predators that use ambient light to prey. That’s why low-light conditions are the best time of the day to catch them. What’s more, they’re more active during these times, searching for food and prey.
The best time of the day to catch bass is when the water is warm, and the light is low. It means dawn and dusk are the best times. It’s also possible to catch bass at night, especially on summer nights when the temperature is high and they’re active.
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