The Best Time of Day to Catch Bass (Broken Down by Season)


Bass, ferocious, feisty, and very fun. But are they particular about the time they call lunch? In truth, yes, they are, and while you could catch one at any time of the day, time it right, and you’ll net yourself a bumper bag.

What is the best time of day to catch Bass? Well, it depends on the species and season, but today I’m going to tell you everything you need to know so you can arrive at just the right moment.

Read on to find out when that is.

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What is the Best Time of Day to Catch Bass?

The best time to catch Bass is generally in lower light conditions. This will tend to be around dawn and just before the sun sets in the spring, summer, and fall. In winter, you may find that any time after midday produces results.

To understand why the above is true, you need to have a good understanding of bass behavior.

Don’t worry, it isn’t complicated, and you’ll have a good idea already.

Why?

There are a few reasons, but what it boils down to are these few main things…

fisherman holding a large mouth bass

Tactical Advantages

Bass are extremely predatory and are predominantly sight-based feeders. This means that they have excellent eyesight.

Why is this so important?

It just so happens that the things that Bass eat often don’t have eyesight that is quite so well developed.

Do you see where this is going?

Bass feed prolifically in low light conditions to take advantage of the fact that they can see while their prey can’t. When are the most consistent low light conditions? Around sunup and sundown.

There are a few other reasons why this makes for the best time of day to catch Bass…

Contrast and Glare

In the summer especially, you’ll have seen Bass breaking the surface to attack creatures in the upper level of the water. If you’ve seen my article on the best lures for Bass, you’ll have seen plenty of one thing in particular.

A nice silhouette.

Bass often sit down below, looking up, just waiting to attack from beneath. Low light conditions give them the ideal opportunity to do this without the glare!

Water Temperature

Ever been for a run on a hot day?

I bet you felt full of energy, right?

No, of course not!

Well, it is the same for predatory species. When the sun is beating down on the water, you get algal blooms, and the water can become very deoxygenated. This will stop bass feeding dead in its tracks, and they will head to deeper areas.

As the day cools, so does the water, and as a result, the Bass, along with what they eat, take advantage of this cooler water to feed. You’ll also find that the Bass make a beeline for these areas because shallower water cools quicker.

And of course…

You’ll be waiting there with your rod!

largemouth bass close up

The Best Time of Day in Summer, Spring, Fall, and Winter

Let me put it like this.

If anyone tells you that there is a set time all year round that is the best for bass fishing, they aren’t telling you the truth.

The water temperature, weather, and fish behavior changes depending on the time of year, so why wouldn’t the best time of day to catch Bass?

What are those times?

Check below for the season and the optimal times to bag up on Bass!

Best Times to Fish for Bass in Spring

Optimal Time in Spring – Midday onwards.

Spring is when the season is just getting going!

Now, look.

I’m not saying this will be the greatest time to go bass fishing but provided you stick to the following guidelines, you stand the best possible chance of catching.

The best time of day for spring bass will be from midday onwards into the late afternoon.

Why?

Because although the season is warming up, it takes a little while for the water to follow suit.

Your aim should be to fish when the water is warmest, and for that, you’ll need to arrive when the sun has had the greatest opportunity to heat the water.

If you arrive a little earlier, that’s ok. You’ll find that the Bass will start down in the deeper areas, and as the water warms, move to the shallows to take advantage of the fact that these areas warm up a little quicker.

Spring does out fish winter, primarily because the Bass will be gearing up ready to spawn and will be taking advantage of the fact that there have been slim pickings throughout the winter.

Oh, and before I forget, make sure to take the best lures for the season.

fisherman holding a largemouth bass

Best Times to Fish for Bass in Summer

Best Time in the Summer for Bass – An hour before sunrise or just before sunset into the night.

Without a doubt, summer has to be the best time of year to fish for Bass.

Bass are keen to take advantage of the season when there is the highest abundance of life around.

You’ll notice an abundance of things, like frogs and minnows, at the end of the spring and the start of the summer. Bass love nothing more than to gobble these up as often as they can.

Summer does come with its downsides, though.

Namely…

It is pretty bright. While Bass are apex predators in the water, they can still become food for bigger animals. When there are bright conditions, they prefer to seek deep shade under bushes, structures, and lily pads.

The answer?

Well, first of all, check out my tips for bass fishing in the summer.

Then…

Regardless of the weather, fish from an hour before full sunrise into the early morning and again a couple of hours before sunset into the night.

Worried that Bass won’t see your lure in the dark?

Don’t.

Instead, check out my article on the best lures to use when night fishing for Bass. They are lethal!

Best Times to Fish for Bass in Fall

The Best Fall Bass Fishing Time – Two hours or so before sunset.

Unlike summer, the water doesn’t stay quite as warm during the night. As a result, you’ll find that the Bass can be a little sluggish in the morning. The best time to go bass fishing in the fall is in the hours preceding darkness, as the water will be at its warmest.

Fall has to be one of my favorite seasons for bass fishing.

I feel like it is often neglected. Many bass anglers hang up their rods when the summer ends.

Here’s what I say.

More fool them.

With fall, you actually get more optimum fishing time.

Here’s why.

You’ll get more overcast days for a start, meaning more low light conditions (which we’ve already said, bass love). What’s more, the sun isn’t quite as strong, meaning that there are fewer times that the Bass will hunker down and stop feeding.

You still get relatively warm water, though. As seasons go, fall is one of the most consistent.

Best Times to Fish for Bass in Winter

Best Time for Winter Bass Fishing – Midday until Sundown.

Winter bass fishing is challenging, but not impossible, provided you get the times right.

This best time of day to catch Bass in winter is contrary to what I’d consider ‘normal’.

That’s right. You’ll actually want to go bass fishing with the sun at its zenith.

First off, the light is more diffuse, so you won’t get the same quiet periods as you would at a similar time during the summer.

Second, the water is at its coldest. Therefore the only time you will see any life is when it has been heated from around midday onwards.

You’ll also want to maximize your time bass fishing, as there will be an optimum window that you don’t want to miss.

How do you do that?

Have a read on my article for where largemouth bass are found. That way, you won’t waste time fishing where there aren’t any fish!

winter perch fishing on softbaits

Best Bass Fishing Times – Quick Reference Chart

Time of Year Best Bass Fishing Time Target Species
Spring Midday onwards Smallmouth bass, Largemouth Bass
Summer Sunrise and two hours after, or two hours before sunset into the night Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Striped Bass
Fall Two hours before sunset Largemouth Bass, Striped Bass
Winter Midday until dusk Largemouth Bass

Is it Better to Catch Bass in the Morning or Evening?

In Spring, Summer, and Fall, you’ll catch Bass during both periods. The exception, of course, is winter.

Which is best?

I’d probably say evening if I had to pick.

By fishing in the evening, you can always ensure that the water is at the right temperature and Bass are at their most ferocious, especially if they’ve had to spend the day on the bottom because conditions were not favorable.

This is also a great time as you can be prepared and ready to indulge in a spot of night bass fishing, which is also really great.

What’s Better for Bass, Day or Night?

Both day and night have their merits.

What I will say is this.

Bass fishing in the day is certainly easier. And you’ll probably find that you’ll have an increased catch rate during daylight hours.

But that said.

If it is quality instead of quantity that you seek, night fishing for Bass is the way to go. Big trophy bass are big for a reason.

They are cautious.

The only time they ever really drop their guard and become less wary is at night, so night fishing is the way to go if you are after specimen-sized fish.

Never been night fishing for Bass before?

Don’t worry, I’ve got an expert guide right here that will tell you everything you need to know.

large striped bass in fly fishing kayak

The Best Time to Go Fishing for Bass – Species Guide

Listen.

It would be remiss of me to pretend that all fish are the same. And as you’ll already know, fish have a nasty habit of tearing up the rule book.

Different Bass behave in different ways, so you might need to make a few adjustments to your alarm clock depending on the bass species you intend to catch.

Here’s a breakdown of the best times to fish by bass species:

What is the Best Time to Fish for Smallmouth Bass?

Smallmouth bass are little powerhouses, but they are quite particular about when they eat.

But here’s what is great.

Smallmouth bass don’t mind colder water. This means that you’ll be able to catch them all year round.

The best times?

In spring, summer, and fall, the ideal time to target smallmouth bass is from first light onwards, i.e., the early morning.

What is the Best Time to Fish for Largemouth Bass?

The largemouth bass is what we traditionally think of when ‘bass fishing’.

These efficient hunters could be caught at any time of day. But for the optimum results, I’d suggest going during the times when the sun is at its lowest. This tends to be the two hours around dawn and again the two hours around dusk.

If you do want to fish in the heigh of the day, target shaded and darker areas, along with deeper water.

What is the Best Time to Fish for Striped Bass?

Striped Bass love nothing more than tearing into shoals of minnows. I’d advise arriving just as the sun comes up when the water is calm, especially in the summer. The evening can also produce some good results, but the morning holds the advantage when it comes to catch rate.

Often, if you time your visit right, you’ll be able to see these shoals breaking the surface as they flee for their life. Making it the ideal time to tie a small surface lure on as they pick off the stragglers.

Summary

So, there you have it. You can catch year-round as long as you pick the best time to fish for Bass! As a general rule, go when there are low light conditions and time your visit to the time and season that the Bass are most likely to be feeding in. The above guide will help you a great deal.

Are you fully kitted out? If not, why not head over and check out my guide to the best rod and reel combos for bass fishing?

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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