Toledo Bend: It’s right at night

Brandon Michaels lips a 31/2-pound bass he caught on a plastic frog in the peppergrass the last week of June at Toledo Bend. Brandon was fishing with his father, Tony Michaels, and guide/columnist John Dean. Bass like this one can be caught day and night in August, Dean says, particularly at night to beat the heat.

Best August bass action is after dark

Catch bass and beat the heat.

Both are doable in August, arguably the hottest month of the year at Toledo Bend. All you have to do is plan your late-summer bass fishing trips between sunset and sunrise.

Toledo Bend always has been a real, real good night-fishing lake. The bassing success has been keeping serious fishermen up at night, so to speak. Last August was awesome, and it should be great again this year.

Bass clubs and even some organizations schedule night tournaments on Toledo Bend, which is shared by Louisiana and Texas. Many start their contests an hour or so before sunset, which gives bass fishermen a window for that oft-magical time before the sun goes down.

Full-moon fishing is best

The best time to fish after the sun goes down is during the full moon, which will be Aug. 15 this year. So prime time other than that night is two or three days before and two or three days after.

Fishing in the dark is made easier these days with the advances in marine electronics and mapping units that make it much easier to move around. Remember, though, it’s a stump-filled lake, so be extra careful driving around and practice boating safety even more than you do during daylight hours.

Making night-fishing even more appealing are the various lighting products available on the market, such as black lights and LEDs. Crappie fishermen have been keeping up with and taking advantage of the marine electronics and the lighting during nocturnal hours for many years at Toledo Bend.

Whether you’re bass fishing for fun or in competition, the chance to catch quality and quantity is ever-present in the dark, away from the maddening crowd and the suffocating heat. The chance has multiplied over the past several years because of the continued construction of docks and piers around the lake, giving bass more cover than they use already in the peppergrass and pads.

Target shallow peppergrass

Too shallow, you say? We’re dealing with a substantial topwater bite — topwaters and plastic frogs — in the peppergrass that extends from south to north, east to west, even during the day the first week of July. We have a situation, a fairly high lake level at 170.92, where the bite could and should be good in August, especially at night, in the peppergrass and lily pads.

Why? I think the lake still will be in the 170s.

I know the prevailing pattern over the years has been to fish deep, where there might be considerable bigger bites. Still, I definitely would start shallow in the hour or so before day turns to night and stay there until the bass tell you it isn’t happening. As long as the shallow bite continues, I wouldn’t leave it.

Topwater poppers and “walk-the-dog” type artificials, plus black and dark-colored plastic frogs and plastic worms, are top choices at night. Ditto for black buzzbaits and spinnerbaits.

The key at night in the shallows hinges on the presence of baitfish such as bream and shad, which are so prevalent now in

the peppergrass. As long as the baitfish are there, the bass will hang around.

Docks offer great bassing

Hundreds of docks present a viable alternative to the peppergrass. They’re everywhere. Ninety percent of them have brush piles, and a lot of them have lights.

Dock fishing at night has been strong for a couple summers. Consider that bass are pretty much dock-oriented anyway and you’ve got a strong argument to get on the docks flippin’, pitchin’, working square-bill crankbaits, topwaters and, recently, glide baits. The latter have come up huge around docks and marinas.

Docks have been productive all year, ever since the marina and dock construction ramped up over the past 10 years.

For those who choose to fish deep, the 22- to 25-foot depths around brush piles and other structure, drag a Carolina-rigged soft plastic, or drop a drop-shot soft plastic or a football jig on them. Those are the three primary artificials for triggering bites deep.

If you want to catch bass in August, I’ve been guiding on this lake most of my life and you’re more than welcome in my boat. Give me a call at 936-404-2688.

About John Dean 99 Articles
John Dean has been guiding on Toledo Bend most of his life. If you’d like to join him on a trip, give him a call at (936) 404-2688.