By Jeff Samsel

Being on the water at first light isn’t always critical. In fact, in a few months, you’ll find better action later in the day than during the first few hours of the morning. Through late summer and continuing into early fall, though, most kinds of fish feed better at first light and last light than at any other time of the day and it really is worth the extra effort to be out there when the sky first begins to get light.

Daylight is also special because human activity and unnatural sounds tend to be minimal. But the water’s surface and areas around the water are coming to life, with big fish chasing little fish, ducks and other birds flying everywhere and frogs and various bugs making all kinds of sounds. Meanwhile night giving way to daylight commonly does so with a spectacular pallet of colors.

“It’s just a magical time,” said Alabama bass pro Jimmy Mason. “There’s nothing else like it.”

Beyond feeding more dependably at daylight, bass and many other popular fresh- and saltwater gamefish feed extra aggressively, often on the surface, early in the morning which creates seriously fun fishing.

Mason typically will throw noting other than topwater lures for at least the first hour of the morning. Most mornings he has a Heddon Super Spook Jr. and a One Knocker Spook tied on, and he’ll let the bass show him their preference that particular morning. Another outstanding bet for bass fishing at first light is a BOOYAH Boss Pop.

Of course Mason will continue to throw topwater lures as long as the fish will hit them, and sometimes the surface action continues all day long. It’s almost always his starting point, though, if he has the opportunity to fish at first light this time of the year.

If you do choose to get out early, be intentional about not doing so halfway. It’s far too easy to find yourself getting coffee and gas at the convenience store at actual first light, starting to launch at sunrise and running to your starting spot as the sun creeps higher and the day gets brighter. It’s a waste to get up early and not rot actually get to experience first light and the fishing action that often comes with that time of day. It’s important to look at sunrise times and consider that first light comes well before then. Develop a plan that truly accounts for getting ready in the morning, doing assorted things before you launch and getting to the spot where you want to start fishing.

If your planning is true, it will still be fully dark when you get to your starting spot, so when the first hints of daylight creep in, you will already be casting. Plan for where you want to be at daylight in the same way as you would if you were planning a duck hunt. The only difference, which of course is a good one, is that you can begin casting before legal daylight.