Well, a little warning. You need to really want to read up on late evening, night, and early morning bassin' to get into this post. Pretty long, I got carried away reliving moments. If you get on the lake after 9am then you probably don't need this unless wondering why the fishing is so lousy from 9am till a bit before dark.
Aside from having night fishing baits arranged in one place and all that other stuff ready, maybe someone wonders "When?". Glad you asked....
Along about mid June the threadfin shad here begin spending nights in shoreline areas they like to use to spawn from about now through July when the water gets too hot. By Mid June water temperature will be in the 80's, meaning the days are getting too bright for my thin skin. I will be forced to fish nights by then. I'm wearing SPF 50 fishing clothes, a pair of SPF 30 fishing gloves, and a SPF 50 clave (full head cover), and might be able to stay out there days longer.
Right about maybe an hour before dark, huge schools of shad begin coming off the main lake to spend the night safely and if ready, to spawn. I can actually smell their melt, a musky odor, when they spawn. If there's enough light I see a thin film of fish oil on the surface in calm water. They mostly head off the lake following a main creek channel, then follow break-off tributaries into weedy flats. You can park the boat over a main channel leading to shallow water and watch on sonar school after school of shad move up. Zillions of shad! Often those flats will only have a foot or two of water, and by then the weeds will be thick enough few predator fish will get to them. A light on them at night will show at least a dozen or many more shad leaping in the air at every moment when they arrive. It sounds like a light rain dimpling the lake.
I want to be on the lake at least two hours before sunset, waiting at the end of the best of maybe several tributaries where they come to the weed line of the flats. I keep the boat right at the weedline, knowing bass are tracking the shad schools. The bass will surround my boat lining up for the incoming feast, 'knowing' the shad are due then. That's when it is time to begin casting to the deeper side of incoming schools of shad, and along the weedline. The bass top at the weedline, something I learned after years of working topwater baits in 18" of water skimming over tops of weeds. Few bass were caught in there. The action is in that T at the edge. Small spinnerbaits, light weight swim baits, short worms, shallow swimming crankbaits all work, but one of my favorite is Kalin's 5" Lunker Grub on a darter jig head. They work best when cast and retrieved so as to swim along with incoming shad. Until dark various colors work, but come dark I use very dark colors, to be more precise, opaque baits that won't pass light through them. A favorite from then on through the night is a black shore Zara Spook. I walk the dog with those if the bass want that, or switch to something a lot more subtle, like a 11" ribbontail worm rigged to swim on the surface and weedless, the hook point slightly buried in its back skin, what I think most call "Tex-posed" and "weightless". They are heavy enough to cast a good ways out on 12# line. I use Stren fluorescent line a lot when the bite gets too light to feel, but those can be seen by watching the line under UV light. I try to keep up with biting trends through the night, then an hour before sunrise get set for the mass exodus of shad leaving the area for the open lake, following the same channels they used to enter. By 8 am they are mostly all out of the flats, the same bass still waiting around the weedline. I believe most of those bass follow the schools back out into the lake, while some always remain resident. I also believe the most mature bass drop off the following act to stay put in deeper water at their usual ambush points, not following those schools around all day. When the schools happen across a lunker bass' daily routine route I figure they join the chase a while. But here the usual bass caught hounding a school of shad runs around 2-3 pounds, rarely larger, even fishing deep under a school. So I back track to the channels looking for a little larger fish sometimes, or if meat hunting follow the shad. After about 9 am the bass catching apart from those following shad schools gets very scattered, with few bass caught per hour, until they all return shallow to the wide flats in coves and a few large shallow bays.
An option that is very interesting but sometimes very dangerous is to anchor out in the open lake at a big hump near the surface with a field of weeds over it. Shad will choose to spend the night and spawn there too. I like fishing those because there is way more weedline than across a cove, that line being circular, and attracting in general larger bass that live around those humps, but stripers too. The danger is being out there mid lake with the Budweiser crowd screaming across the lake in every direction oblivious to anchored boats.
An easy way to find those open lake spots is to observe a circle of unnaturally calm water in the middle of upset water. The shallow weeds halt waves and create a calm glass smooth eye over the hump. Any hump like that will be a prime night bassin' spot.
Please note this works for THREADFIN SHAD. I had to study other species of baitfish around the country, but have not observed those, except gizzard shad, in the wild. The lesson there is to get to know your baitfish, ID them accurately, learn about or observe their habits, for bass will surely be near. It's like when our two daughters in the back seat on a trip, upon leaving McDonald's in one of those interstate island meccas would frantically ask "Will there be another McDonald's at lunch time?" It's amazing, on a side note, how there always is one right about the time to stop to feed the bunch. With tears popping out of eyes they scream "Daddy, there's a McDonald's ahead, and it's lunch time! Oh thank you, God." Like them, bass have a great interest in tracking their food supply. They might not feed on the forage all that often, but they keep their food in mind for when lunch time arrives.