Source: Freshwater Fishing Advice's Official Website (2021)
A Largemouth Bass
It is common knowledge among many anglers that the morning is actually one of the best times to be on the water casting for bass. If you didn’t already know this, I hope this article is an eye opening experience for you and helps you become a much better bass fisherman.
Is the morning a good time for bass fishing? During warmer months, the morning is one of the very best times of day to catch more and larger bass. During colder months, the morning is typically a lot slower and the late afternoon actually has the best fishing since this is when water is warmest. There is a ton of nuance to this topic so read on for a load of information that will help you pick the best part of the morning to target big bass.
If you want to catch more bass, knowing the exact temperature to fish at can make all the difference.
Best Time of Day for Bass Fishing
The best time of day during most warmer month days is the early morning from dawn until about 2 hours after sunrise and in the late afternoon from 2.5 hours before sunset until dusk.
This is typically when the water is coolest and bass are less affected by direct sunlight. This frees them to roam in search of food and stray far from shaded cover.
Even better than the morning is in the hours right before a steady rainfall or cold front arrives as bass will be eagerly feeding before the cold front arrives and they slow way down. That is truly the best time possible to catch a ton of aggressive bass.
Morning vs. Evening
This is pretty debated among recreational and serious bass fishermen. To be honest, both times of day are generally pretty awesome for fishing and oftentimes, it really comes down to personal preference.
The morning is a great time to catch bass because the available light is reduced giving bass a decided tactical advantage over prey that can’t see as well in the low light. The same is true with the late afternoon near sunset.
I personally prefer fishing in the evening but that is just when it is most convenient for me and my work schedule. To tell you the truth, I do feel the morning is actually superior because bass likely spent the night not feeding and will be eager to gorge on shad and crawfish at first light. You will get more aggressive bites in the morning most of the time.
Best Baits for Morning Bass Fishing
The best baits to catch bass in the morning are either going to be baitfish presentations or craw presentations. Avoid frogs in the early morning. Instead, fish down deep on the bottom with tubes, drop shots, worms, squarebills, or swimbaits.
If you are after big bass, nothing beats a jig or a big swimbait crawled along bottom. I feel like these are the best morning baits for big largemouth and smallmouth bass most of the warmer months. Bass won’t want to move fast to catch prey in the morning so error on the side of slow and methodical.
Fishing: Morning Breakdown
Dawn & Sunrise
That first light around dawn until sunrise can be slow at first but really pick up at sunrise. This is especially true during the summer. Bass will have the spent the whole night eating little to no food and will be eager to feed. But they do need some light to find food and that normally won’t come until much closer to sunrise.
I would launch the boat around dawn and out at your fishing hole just before sunset for the best action. During colder months, I wouldn’t be on the water before sunrise because the bass simply won’t be feeding unless you really crawl those baits at them.
During the summer, the early morning is the best time of the day for bass fishing. I’m referring to the time period from sunrise until about 2 hours after sunrise before water temps start climbing. This is when the water is still pretty cool and the light isn’t too strong yet.
Bass will be feeding aggressively to make up for the not eating much if anything since sunset the previous night. During winter, the early morning will be slow most of the time and simply not worth fishing if you can go fishing later in the day instead.
After early morning has ended, you will start to see diminishing returns when it comes to bass action. Every hour closer to noon you get, the slower you can expect the bite to be during the summer. Now during the winter, it will be the exact opposite.. Bass will start feeding in mid-morning because early morning will have been too chilly for them to really chase down food.
During the summer, the late morning can be decent. While bass will be pretty docile in the heat of the midday, they will be very predictable. You can expect to find bass holding tight to structure either shallow or down deep. Look for docks, marinas, laydowns, ledges, and thick weeds.
I really like fishing weeds for these midday bass because you can target the biggest bass by casting at the thickest clumps of weeds. Big bass get the right of way for the best grass with shade and that is exactly where they will head. Big bass will occupy the best shade under the thickest clump of grass when the sun is overhead.
5 Tips for Morning Bass Fishing
1. Take Advantage of Hungry Bass
One thing I want you to remember is that bass will be the hungriest in the morning that they will be all day. That is because, most bass can’t find or catch food at night. Bass may go 8 hours or more since their last meal when you start pitching baits at them at sunrise.
If you want to target bass when they are the hungriest, I can’t think of a better time than morning to do so. Bass will feed opportunistically throughout the day but that first meal of the day is usually at first light for the bass. Be there ready with a good bait to play that game.
2. Fish Near the Bottom
I have found that bass do much of their morning feeding down near the bottom of the water column. They are mostly feeding on baitfish and craws in the early morning hours. This is why I recommend skipping the frog baits until later in the day. I think morning frogging is a waste of time. You will be much better off fishing on the bottom with drop shots, ned rigs, or squarebills in shallow water.
3. Baitfish or Craws
Bass tend to focus primarily on crawfish and baitfish in the early morning hours. Frogs are eaten more so in the afternoon. Don’t waste your time throwing frogs in the early morning. Instead, I recommend throwing craw or natural colored baitfish patterns in the morning. Think crankbaits, dropshots, ned rigs, and tubes.
Jigs work awesome too and are a great way to finesse fish but still draw big bites from trophy bass. I recommend patterning your morning lure selection off crawfish and whatever is the dominant baitfish in your water. Also, if your lake has kokanee or trout, that is the bait big bass will hit most aggressively.
4. Fish Cloudy & Overcast Conditions
I love fishing on cloudy days. Bass will not be a tightly associated to cover which can make them harder to locate but also makes them more aggressive. I prefer to fish for aggressive bass rather than docile bass.
On cloudy days, you can target bass with moving baits like swimbaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and topwater. That is a lot more fun for most anglers than finesse fishing.
5. Colors Should Match Clarity & Light
Color selection is a huge deal when it comes to morning bass fishing. The bottom line is that you need to think of color in a natural color, a solid color, or bold colors.Let the water clarity and sunlight dictate what you pick.
If the water is clear, go with ghost colors which resemble baitfish in clear water. If the water is a little stained, solid colors will show up better. In muddy water, chartreuses, whites, blacks, and blues will be the best colors. Keep it simple and you will make the right choices for morning bass fishing.
By the Season
In the early spring, the early morning will be slow because the water is still cold from winter and that early morning water will be icy. This will make all life in the water docile. The bass will heat up later in the day as that sun warms up the water.
Later in the spring during that pre-spawn and spawn, the best time of day to catch bass will be early morning and late afternoon. During the spawn, you can catch bass guarding their nest all day long as long as you pester the buck male who’s guarding the female and the nest.
Summer is the best season to catch aggressive bass in the morning. I say this because bass will be taking advantage of the cool water and dimmer light conditions in the morning before the heat of the day forces them under shade.
Bass will hit frogs in the morning but I prefer to throw baitfish or craw patterns at them now. Most bass will be feeding near the bottom in the early morning hours and won’t mess with a frog until at least late morning. Drop shits, worms, and lipless crankbaits are awesome. If you want to catch a monster bass, throw a slow-moving swimbait or jig instead.
During the early fall, conditions in the water will mirror late summer. Bass will feed aggressively in the morning. During this time, bass are gorging on schooling baitfish and the occasional craw in preparation for winter. I find the morning bite in fall is good as long as you fish from the middle of the water column down to the bottom.
Don’t fish topwater in the morning unless you see shad jumping and bass blowing up on the surface. In late fall, bass will really start slowing down in the morning. The morning will usually be slow for bass fishing because the water is so cold.
A Smallmouth Bass
During the winter, the morning bite is usually pretty slow. Unless you are fishing in southern waters that don’t get too cold in the winter, early morning will be one of the slowest bites of the day. Instead, I recommend waiting until early afternoon.
The best winter bite is usually late afternoon when the water has spent all day warming up in the sun and there is still sunlight penetrating the water. You can definitely catch morning wintertime bass but I recommend fishing finesse to do so. Drop shots or ned rigs will be your best bet.
Bass Species & Morning Fishing
As I’m sure you noticed, this article was pretty largemouth bass-centric. They are the most popular gamefish in North America and almost everyone has access to fish them nearby. The best time of day to catch largemouth is normally in the early morning.
Late afternoon can be really good too. The middle of the day can be fine but you will need to fish the shade tight to prominent cover to get them to commit to the bite. The night is tough for most anglers but you can catch some bass with patience and a very slow approach.
Spotted bass are a very hard-hitting bass species that is nearly as strong and hard-fighting as a smallmouth bass. They really like eating craws and baitfish like shad. They are one of my favorite species to catch because they can extend your arm violently upon impact if you aren’t paying attention.
The best time of day to spotted bass during the summer is early morning followed closely by late afternoon. During the winter, early afternoon seems to be the best for me at least. A lot of bass anglers swear that early afternoon all the way until sunset is actually best when the water is cold.
Smallmouth bass tend to do much of their feeding in the early morning and late afternoon during the warmer months when the water is cool and baitfish are actively moving. These bass have good reduced light vision which gives them an edge over most baitfish and craws during these time windows.
You can catch smallmouth in the afternoon but I think you’ll be best fishing for them in the early morning when they are hungry from the night when they didn’t eat much.
The truth is you can catch striped bass all day long. A lot of big striper chasers head out in the early afternoon and fish deep. I like to fish shallow so early morning and late afternoon tends to be my golden times. I have found that stripers prefer low light or no light conditions when feeding near the surface.
During early summer in conjunction with the alewife spawn, striper action can be insanely good at night right on the surface.
Robert H 20.10.2021 15:13
Thanks for the tips. A sport with a physical payoff and a time to be alone with the wonders of creation. God bless the only true site..TCW, for those who search
EDITOR OF TCW 20.10.2021 14:35
Have caught two largemouth bass this week over 3lbs. Fall fishing season is on - they're hungry!
EDITOR OF TCW 25.10.2021 17:40
Just caught 8 largemouth in less than 45 mins. Get out this week & fish! Glad my dad taught me how to fish when I was only 3 years old. A great skill & Lots of fun. Here's a pic of my biggest largemouth bass - 5.5 lbs. See: tinyurl.com/4ajatsh3
EDITOR OF TCW 21.10.2021 12:33
To view other posts/videos on this section to our site ("Learn Outdoor Skills: Fishing & Hunting+"), go to: https://tinyurl.com/list-of-outdoor-vids
08.12 | 01:18
"Destroy, then, in me whatever may displease you or resist you; w...
07.12 | 17:13
Thank you N.S. in Macerata, Italy (this Advent) for your generous suppor...
07.12 | 16:23
The uniform norms for fast and abstinence adopted in 1951 by the bis...
06.12 | 22:46
TCW READERS: The Eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Co...