Pitch black, calm lake and the soothing, rhythmic chugging of a surface plug on the end of the line.
Kablooie! It all changes in an instant as the biggest bass of the season blasts your lure.
Does anybody fish the night shift anymore? Use to be the hands-down, sure-fire way to catch really large largemouth around here.
Besides beating the summer heat, there is a lot less recreational boating going on after dark. Especially really late — like midnight and the early morning hours.
And it's not just bass that bite well at night. Using waterproof lamps and submersible lights to attract minnows, then crappie and various other panfish seems to be a dying art on area lakes.
I always wondered if those green-glow lights would work for perch in the dark on Lake Michigan. Just about all other big lake fish feed heartily at night.
Chinook are notorious low-light predators. Surprisingly, so too are steelhead, which pier guys figured out long ago. And there is a loyal carp contingent who target the burliest of the species in the calm of the night.
Of course, catfish and bullheads have always been a mainstay of night fishing.
If you go, keep tackle to a minimum. Keep artificial light out of sight as much you can. And, don't forget the bug spray.
• Fishing report: While top-water poppers and chuggers are traditional night-bite baits, the same stuff bass guys use during the day — soft-plastic worms and creatures — may be better choices when the surface temps are in the 80s like they near now.
That's not to say a lunker largemouth won't charge out of its' comfort zone to blast a surface bait, but I suspect you'd be better off keeping a lure at their prowling level — down and outside the deep weed lines — right now.
Crappie and bluegill are binging during the magic hour around sunrise and sunset before retreating into the weeds and deeper depths through the day. Seems those submersible lights before and after dark would extend the bite. Crickets, small leeches and wigglers are awesome for 'gills four to six feet down early and late while minnows are hard to beat for the crappie.
Lake Michigan perch catches were a bit spotty at mid week, although some limit catches have been coming from depths of 18 to 30 feet both east and west of Michigan City. Perch have also been hit and miss at New Buffalo.
Trollers were bagging five to 12 fish, mostly lake trout, in depths of 90 to 120 feet at all points of the compass out of Michigan City. There are temps in the 40s down 50 feet or so, where most of the silver fish are hitting, although some steelies are attacking lures in the warmer surface water.
Stream temperatures in the 70s has stymied steelhead activity on Trail Creek. The few fish being hooked are typically early in the morning. Large returns often occur in early-August as night-time temps cool.
• Powder Puff: Laura Ryba whipped a 18.95-pound chinook to claim the $300 big fish prize in the Hoosier Coho Club's annual Powder Puff Derby on Saturday. Ryba was fishing aboard Boatre Dame with captain Craig Koepke.
Winner of the $450 Best Five was the team of Debbie Fuller and Angie Pierce aboard Yellow Dog with captain Eric Fuller. The 60-plus pound catch included the second-best fish, a 16.25 chinook landed by Debbie and a 12.15 steelhead by Angie.
Nine boats and 29 women participated in the contest with boats registering four to 12 fish, most of which were lake trout.
Powder Puff Top 10: 1. Laura Ryba, 18.95; 2. Debbie Fuller, 16.25; 3. Devon Blackall, 15.10; 4. Lauren Miskowicz 14.50; 5. Theresa Flerick 14.40; 6. Jessica Follenweider, 13.40; 7. Katie Jasnieski 13.35; 8. April Galbreath, 13.05; 9. Heather Mioskowicz, 12.45; 10. Angie Pierce, 12.15.
• Perch: Here's your perch thought for the week, courtesy of Indiana biologist Ben Dickenson's Facebook post on Thursday: "For anybody that has hammered the perch at one depth, and then wondered where they went a couple hours later, or the next day, take a look at this picture of the temp profiles from the past week. Cold water moving in and out pushes the perch around, sometimes on an hourly basis. The greenish color (64-68 degrees or so) is where the perch are hanging out in big concentrations.Temp probes aren't just for salmon fishermen!"
To see what he is writing about and how current moves blocks of warm water, click on the weather buoy near Michigan City at www.greatlakesbuoys.org then scroll down to the thermistors plot which charts temperatures at depth.
• Kongs: There are chinook, there are kings and then there are kongs (as in King Kong). Several more 30-plus pound, kong-sized kings were caught in northern Lake Michigan this week topped by a 35.46-pouder which is leading the July 23-31 Kewaumee/Door County Salmon Tournament as of Thursday.
• State Fair Steelies: Michigan City steelhead, captured, donated and processed by the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders during Skamania Mania, provide an exotic taste for Indianapolis State Far goers.
The DNR's Taste of the Wild cookout starts at 11 a.m., on Aug. 6 and features a slew of free samples. Past menus have included barbequed beaver, muskrat hams, turtle stew, Asian carp and a variety of venison dishes. For a complete list of DNR events during the Aug. 5-21 State Fair, see dnr.IN.gov/statefair.
• Boat show: The Chicagoland In-Water Boat Show at Michigan City is Aug. 11-14 in Washington Park. For complete information, see www.michigancityboatshow.com.