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The Lure Of The Night

Anglers are a stubborn sort. We find it tough to leave the water without catching at least one fish.

I thought about this as dusk arrived at the farm lake I was fishing one hot summer evening. After four useless hours of flailing the water, I still didn’t have the first bite. The owner warned me that there weren’t any fish in the lake, but the water looked too beautiful not to give it a go.

I used the last of the daylight to tie one more knot—this to an impossibly big surface lure with three dangling hooks. It was a decision born of desperation, being the only lure in my tacklebox that hadn’t gotten wet.

I worked the lure with a steady bloop, bloop along the edges of a tree down in the water, guided by the light of a full moon. I heard a crash and had a fleeting thought of someone throwing a bowling ball into the water, when the fishing rod came alive in my hand. I hung that big bass for only a few seconds before the line snapped with a crack.

That incident taught me to go nocturnal during the hottest days of the year.

“Fish are light-sensitive, and they tend to find deeper water to get away from the sun,” explains state Fisheries Director Benjy Kinman. “They also stay away from sunny banks because the water gets too hot.”

When the sun goes down, however, the water cools and fish come closer to shore and actively feed. Angling at night is the best way to catch more fish in summer.

For bass, use a dark-colored surface lure or buzz bait to stir the water around weed lines and brushy shoreline cover. Spinnerbaits fished fast and shallow also work well.

Laurel River Lake has a statewide reputation for its summertime night trout fishing. Anglers use floating lights placed on one side of the boat to draw schools of baitfish, then drop hooks baited with corn or minnows 20 feet deep or more on either side of the boat.

Fishing minnows under floating lights also is a highly effective technique used by walleye anglers at Lake Cumberland, and crappie anglers throughout the state.

Summer also is the best time to night fish for channel catfish. Find a point or good weed line and set out hooks baited with chicken livers. Channels bite best at dusk and dawn.


There’s never been a better time to apply for a Kentucky elk hunt. This season, Kentucky will issue 200 permits for the opportunity to hunt the 5,700-strong elk herd now roaming the southeastern end of the state. It costs only $10 to apply. You can apply for the elk permit drawing wherever hunting licenses are sold, online at, or by calling (877) 598-2401. The deadline to apply for this season’s hunt is July 31.

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