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Dark Secrets to Nighttime Bass Fishing with Nolan Shivers

Day 3: Nolan Shivers Tells the Finer Points of Using a Buzzbait

Editor’s Note: Nolan Shivers of Birmingham, Alabama, a longtime, well-known fisherman for bass and crappie, has fished many tournaments through the years and particularly enjoys night fishing. His techniques will put bass in your boat when the summer sun is blazing. One summer, Shivers boated 15 bass weighing over 5-pounds each and one that weighed 9-1/4-pounds. In the article that follows, Shivers gives his secret tactics to bassing after dark.

Click for Larger ViewAn old fisherman once told me that if you want to know the exact location in the water where bass are feeding, look at the eyes of the first bass you catch. “The bass will either be looking-up, down or straight-ahead, and from this info, you can determine whether you should be fishing the bottom, the middle water or the top.”

I have found that I can look at a bass’ eyes, and every bass I catch that day will be looking in the same direction. But whether or not that has anything to do with where they feed, I don’t know.
I do know that when I can’t catch bass on the bottom with my worm technique, I’ll start buzzing the bank. For years the PRADCO Arbogast Jitterbug has been one of the most-effective night-fishing baits on the market. However, there are many drawbacks to fishing the Jitterbug. Click for Larger ViewIt has to be fished in open water, the treble hooks catch moss or grass, and it can’t be fished in close to limbs or logs where it may hang-up. A better bait is a buzzbait like the Lunker Lure, a single-hook buzzer that will ride over grass, run over stumps and come through heavier cover at night than the Jitterbug will. This is not to say that the Jitterbug is not still a good bait. It is, and I fish it. But an angler is limited to fishing open water with a Jitterbug, whereas with a Lunker Lure he can fish almost any water.

The best way to fish a buzzbait at night is with a steady retrieve. I believe that the bass homes-in on the sound that the bait is making. Then he sets-up his strike to intersect that sound at a particular point in the water. I think that speeding-up or slowing-down your retrieve throws the bass’ timing off and can cause him to be either early or late in taking the lure. I always fish a trailer hook on my buzzbait. Click for Larger ViewThen if a bass does hit short, I’ll still catch him. I never fish a buzzbait at night without a trailer hook, and I believe I catch 30% to 40% more bass by using the trailer hook than someone who doesn’t.

When I am buzzing structure like logs, rocks or standing timber, I try to sneak-up on the bass. I make my first cast a few yards out from the structure and behind the structure. If an aggressive bass is holding on the cover, it will come-out to get the buzzbait, and I won’t have to go in to get the fish. I’ll throw the bait closer and closer to the structure the next few casts. Then the last cast I make, I’ll throw the bait past the target and have it run into the structure as I bring it out to the boat. When I make that last cast, I know there’s a good chance I will get hung-up. But I take the chance anyway, because that ole largemouth may want that buzzbait bounced-off of his nose to take it.

Click for Larger ViewI prefer to use 14-pound-test line when I am buzzing. Using this heavier line, I don’t have to tie-on as often. And, I don’t feel that the heavier line impairs the performance of my lure, since I’m using a large buzzbait instead of a worm or a crankbait. I don’t feel like the bass has a chance to see the line as well at night when you’re fishing a buzzbait, as he does when you are fishing a worm. The fish is reacting to the sound of the lure and not to what he sees. However, when you’re worm fishing, I believe that the bass is actually seeing the bait, looking at it and making a decision as to whether or not to strike. When a largemouth has that much time to evaluate a bait, I believe that line diameter can be a critical factor in whether or not the fish strikes. I don’t believe it will hit if it sees the line. But with the buzzbait, the fish is going after a bait it hears. The fish sees the little bit of splash that the propeller is making, and that is what the bass strikes. I don’t believe that fishing heavier line on a buzzbait will prevent a bass from hitting at night.

Tomorrow: Nolan Shivers on Wading After Dark for Bass

Check back each day this week for more about "Dark Secrets to Nighttime Bass Fishing with Nolan Shivers "

Day 1: Nolan Shivers on Where Nighttime Bass Live and Why
Day 2: Where to Locate Nighttime Bass with Nolan Shivers
Day 3: Nolan Shivers Tells the Finer Points of Using a Buzzbait
Day 4: Nolen Shivers on Wading After Dark for Bass
Day 5: Whether or Not to Use Lights to Bass Fish at Night with Nolan Shivers

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Entry 615, Day 3