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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Following the summer transition period were bass establish their home range for the warm summer period comes summer nights, the magical time when bass roam the shoreline breaks. Again I must make the disclaimer that bass are bass and not all bass are northern LMB. Smallmouth and spots behave differently at night as they do in daylight. Lets focus on LMB both the northern and Florida because I don't see any difference at night in there behavior. Smallies and spots tend to stay deeper on secondary breaks and isolated cover more than LMB at night.
Most bass fisherman agree that bass tend to seek cover during the brightest hottest summer days and locate under docks and weed mats. I don't necessarily agree to this scenario, however will concede that bass will move up towards shallower cover as dusk approaches. Why? the baitfish have relocated to hide in the shallow cover and the nocturnal crawdads and frogs become active. The food chain is more available along the shallower shoreline cover than the deeper sanctuary areas.
Where should you fish at night, isolated shallow cover the a roaming bass can hold on looking for an easy meal. Avoid large weed flats that offer baitfish a big hiding area and fish the edges or open pockets and isolated structure near the shoreline.
Best lures at night are lures the bass can easily locate and strike accurately. Fast moving lures erattic motion lures may attract a bass, however the bass can't time the movements to strike it and missed strikes are missed bass.
Steady moving surface lures, steady moving crank baits and the deadly big plastic worm, oversized slow falling jig or slow big bladed spinner baits are the tools of the night. Line size is not a factor, so go up in line strength to reduce retying. Night is not for finesse fishing, go big and go slow and steady. Use lures that offer a dark silhouette for bass looking up at the gray water surface...black or dark shades of purple rule the night. Gold blades offer more contrast at night on large single Colorado blade spinner baits. Black and red crank baits, black 10" worms are great night lures. Rattles to locate jigs and worms work well.
Rig things simple and reduce the rod choices to a few with one out at a time.
Lights are important for you to see what you are doing. GPS or a good knowledge of the lake is essential so you won't get lost at night. Extra everything is the rule; lights, clothing, cell phone, anchor, batteries. Keep it simple and keep safe to enjoy the darkness. Make sure someone knows you are out fishing and expects you to return. Keep your life jacket on, bug spray on and away from your lures. Flash lights are important, take a few back ups.
Lots to talk about when night fishing, like getting your boat ready, tackle and presentations. Night summer bass fishing is one of our sport hidden treasures, enjoy it.
Tom
 

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Good tips, Tom. Preparing for a good night is high on my list. No matter how careful I am it seems something always goes a little wrong, but I try to make the trip as smooth as possible. Here's a list of my own essentials.

1. Carry spare bulbs for the two navigation lights. A burned out bulb is not a good excuse for not having bow or stern light on when the blue lights pop up behind you.
2. I run flashlight batteries through a tester to make sure they are hot. There's a 12 volt plug-in light stowed away as a backup, a 5 million candle power spotlight with 12 volt adapter cable, at least one head lamp for hands-free use, and a couple of small AA battery flashlights. The new type you shake to use doesn't put out enough light.
3. There's a pair of 55 watt white fog lights on the bow that sure make a big difference when needed. When a boater is headed my way I pop them on, flash them because most fail to judge the closing distance accurately. It works. Many times someone coming right at me in the dark will stop dead thinking they are about to ram a ramp with a vehicle shining their headlights into the water. For whatever reason other boaters are too often attracted to other lit boats.
4. Make certain everything on the boat works, and the outboard is in top shape, fuel tank topped off. Little problems we put up with in daylight become monster problems at night.
5. I take one heavy baitcasting rod and eliminate all tripping hazards, including tackleboxes. There's no need for a long distance casting spinning rod or a large selection of lures.
6. I carry a head net that looks like a bee-keepers hat for those times when bugs bite through 100% DEET or are so thick you choke on them. Long-sleeved shirt and long pants complete your protection. When the night temperature is too high for full coverage (sweat pouring and threatening to set off the bilge pump) I set off 2-3 little misting gadgets sold at WalMart. They make a cloud of vapor around us that drives air temp down a good 15 degrees. I take along a half gallon of distilled water for those. I eat a 1/2 tsp of garlic before going out, along with some Thiamine (vitaminB1) to keep most bugs off.

I'll leave this for others to add theirs. One big safety tip about navigating. No matter how familiar you are with a lake at night, a dense fog can cancel out that knowledge. I keep in mind every boat is lost whether they are or not, so trust nothing out there. On my way out of a ramp area I begin making a GPS route out into the lake then end it. Later I could simply navigate to the end of it and follow it back. From the end of the ramp route I start a new trail. Before the maximum number pf trail points is reached I name and save it, then start another trail, and so on. In the event you fall out and the boat floats away, someone finding the boat could back-track to hopefully find you. Empty drifting bass boats are frequently found with no clue where it had been. Meanwhile those trails are valuable for re-tracing a safe route back home if visibility becomes impossible. Another BIG advantage is like when I broke down one night. The trolling batteries were down and none would crank the outboard. I didn't have a pull rope in the cowl or anywhere. All we had was one paddle. I had enough battery to use the GPS trails and map to figure out the shortest safe deep way to a marina where we finally arrived with the least paddling.

Jim
 

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I dont havetoo many night fishing tips as I havent had the chance to do it safely in a long time. This year however, now that I have a bigger safer boat, I plan on getting some night fishing in.

The one tip I do have for night fishing is this: When we use to night fish on Candlewood lake up in CT, one of our hottest patterns was to visit the illuminated beaches at night. All that sand, clear water and over head lights was perfect for slow rolling big single colorado blade black spinnerbaits. Between the lights over head and the sand below those big black baits made some excellent silouhettes and we would wipe em up!
 

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That's a good place to fish for sure. Lights around docks are big fish attractors. Lake Hamilton at Hot Springs lights up like a big Christmas tree every night, red, green, and white all along the shorelines. The light draws insects, and that draws baitfish and frogs, then come the big predators. Lately a new light phenomenon has begun growing. It's an eerie submerged green light that REALLY draws a lot of fish. So far there aren't enough, each such dock having a few too many boats moored around it all night. I figure lakeside residents turn the light on when their friends call to say they are anchored and ready. Same folks every time.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Lights are a topic by themselves. It no secret that I like to fish marinas and night may be the best time of all. The marina area is a great place to start and get acquainted with night fishing. There are always some good bass around a marina at night because they leave the lights on for safety and security. Large boat docks, breakwalls, launch ramps with under cuts at the ends and side reinforcement structure, perfect night time area.
Boats with black lights, clip on 25 watt 12 VDC incandescent lights, LED lights, underwater high power lights are all used for night bass fishing. Need to make up a list of lights and manufactures names. Everyone has their own idea of what works best with lighting.
I like to use a underwater light back by the big engine that lights up everything about 25 feet around the boat indirectly. It's like your boat is sitting in a lite swimming pool, you can see the shore line to cast and easy to net bass. The underwater light also attract baitfish wherever you go. Just remember to switch it off and put it in the boat before starting the big engine, lost a few lights forgetting to do that. A LED cap light are handy for tying on hooks and finding tackle.
Your batties are a major item at night and make sure they are in good condition because you really rely on them for everything.
Some lights:
Zorro Night lights, the best available for black lights.
Optronics Submersible 300,000 CP light
Master Vision cap LED light
RAM Marine Spotlight
Tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Night presentations are relatively simple and the locations are not difficult. The one thing to keep in mind is that you are limited to the speed you can safely travel and most lakes limit that to 5 MPH and if you double that to 10 MPH thats about the maximum safe speed. This means you can't travel all over the lake, you need to pick an area and fish there, or go as for as you are confortable and fish back toward where you came from. Everyhing takes longer at night, especially tying on hooks. The one thing that you will become is better fisherman because you learn to rely on your sense of feel.
My number one favorite night presentation is the Texas rigged plastic worm. If you had to make one choice, it would be Berkley's 10" black power worm, 5/0 EWG worm hook, 3/16 oz black bullet weight. I use my 6'6" med/hvy/fast action jig rod at night with 20 lb Big Game mono. I fish my own jigs and a variety of worms from 7" to 12" . I also fish big Norman DD22 black/red craw crank baits, Mud Bug crank bait and 5/8 oz single colorado blade spinner bait. Musky size black wooden jitter bug and a buzz bait. Thats about it. Hooks from 3/0 to 5/0, weights from 3/16 to 1/4, 4 rods & reels all the same. I keep everything as simple as possible and organized and stowed. 1 worm box and unopened worm bags, 1 box of hooks and sinkers, needle nose pliers, line clippers all in 1 tackle bag. My jigs, pork trailers and a few lures in a separate tackle bag, 2 tackle bags thats it. I have a plastic milk box that holds my anchor and rope and a bag of boat tools, flash lights, extra batteries/bulbs in another small bag in the box.
Rain gear, jackets, sweater, towells are stowed. Extra pair of glasses in the boat and in the car. I have a clip on back up light for the launching and retrieving the boat.
My favorite places to fish at night are the marina areas, main lake major points that intersect a channel and any flats that are close to that major point, primary secondary points, dam rip rap areas, swim beaches and the brushy or rocky areas adjacent to swim beaches, weed bed edges and docks. I like to cast a T-rigged worm within inches of the bank or even onto the bank and work it out to about 8' to 10' for LMB, thats about it for worms. Jigs work a little deeper if I have metered deeper bass or fishing smallmouths. I usually pull up to an area and make the traditional fan cast pattern and cover everything within casting distance before moving, then I move parallel to the shore and repeat the process. Pounding the bank is what night bass fishing is all about. Bites are usually not the soft or subtle bites of the day, bass slam night lures and worms. Bass are supercharged at night and tend to go airborne with your set the hook in shallow water, heart stopping experience with big night bass on a short string.
Tom
 

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You bring up an important issue with tying knots at night. Turning on a lamp to tie a knot draws all the more bugs and kills night vision for just long enough to cast a bait onto shore or over a tree branch. I use the biggest hooks I own as long as a soft plastic can accept them. The thickest, longest, baddest hook is as invisible as a crappie hook. They have larger line eyes, too, so I can poke a doubled line through it in pitch black. Finishing a Palomar knot is a breeze once that line is through. Try it while watching TV. Easier than you think.

Having GPS and great confidence, boaters around here run wide open regardless of visibility. It's illegal but some folks ski all night, some in the nude. Drunk operators abound. I keep to the shallower areas away from major waters because of just enough really mean jerks that will harass a fisherman. Huh. That doesn't last long. I have several wildlife officer's home numbers and can get one of those 85 mph greasers on the water in an hour. They have some fast boats confiscated from drug dealers.

My favorite night bait from now on is a Zoom Monster worm (or larger) in any dark purple or black color with 6/0 thick wired striper hook and 65# braid. I use a rubber band to make the hook weedless. I like it to float somewhat with no sinker, hook just Tex-posed. If the fish are breaking I love a black Jitterbug or Zara Spook, but most of the treble-hooked baits collect too much floating vegetation in the shallow places I fish.

There are no private docks on Ouachita, so marinas are prime fishing territory, especially on moonless nights. I have phone numbers of security workers at each marina who appreciate a courtesy call BEFORE floating in around the slips. Those guys will drive you to another area to get your tow vehicle if you work with them.

Jim
 

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Outstanding Information guys, during the summer months there a quite a few night tournments here. Most of those guys would not share any info with you, but sometimes thats the way it goes.
 
G

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I used to not be a night bass fisherman. I would go and try it with some friends and almost never catch any fish. Maybe 1 here and there. Heck if I caught 1 fish I felt like I accomplished something. I then read a report by a guide at Lake Fork claiming he was catching 20 or more bass every single night. Well, I had to see what this was all about. He was posting this on a popular forum site. I made a post like sure I bet or something and he wrote me saying that he would be happy to take me for free and show me. Yep, he took me and a friend for free. Wouldn't even take a tip from me I tried :) (I did hire him 2 times after that though) His name is Doug Moore and he no longer guides on Lake Fork but he was one of the nicest people I ever did meet.

His trick? A black 1/2 ounce Hildebrandt Go Getter spinnerbait with a Jumbo Pork Frog as a trailer fished super slow along the bank where hydrilla was letting it sink with the depth of the grass.. So I loaded up on em. This was back in 1999 and those spinnerbaits where expensive back then $5. At least to me. But I showed up and we fished all night long and low and behold we caught 22 bass. I caught 12 of them. This is where I learned that braid is far superior to mono or it derivities when spinnerbait fishing. I was the only one using braid that night. I out fished everyone. I have duplicated this time and time again with non believers. (That is a free tip for anyone no charge ;) )

I was determined to duplicate this and with the guides permission I fished lake Fork every Friday night in similar areas and never when he was fishing the same spots, I never 1 time caught less then 20 bass from May-July 4th weekend. It was awesome. Biggest was several 6lbers and lots of 5lbers and 4lbers etc. One night I went through 6 Hildebrandt Go Getters. They are thin wired which is why they are not the most durable but as far as a night spinnerbait it is the cream of the crop. That thin wire makes them pump out the best vibration I have ever used. That jumbo pork chunk adds to the vibration and makes a bigger profile.

That has been my all time favorite rig ever since. It works out here in Florida pretty darn well also. Night time is a favorite thing for me and here in Florida it is much tougher then the rest of the country. You see for every bug you guys got we got 100. I feel like fishing here at night would require a bee keepers suit haha. Also, we got Gators and they are all active at night. Just adds to the challenge I guess. Top waters are not a good option here for that reason haha.

Jim, I wear a head lamp that has 3 options, Red, Halogen and bright. I use RED as it will not attract a single bug and allows me to sit there and retie knots and whatever I need to do. It also does not effect the fish by shining it into the water a big no no when night fishing. Never shine the light at an object to intend to fish at. Bass are spooked by lights that are not consistently on such as from a boat dock etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I don't like braid at night because it's non stretch and casting qualities do not suit me well at night. If you back lash braid at night, your done with that reel. Strikes at night are not difficult to feel and can happen within a short casting distance and I tend over hook set as a result and have broken rods. 20 lb mono is strong enough for the type of cover where I fish. If the cover was heavier or fishing weed beds, then superbraids are ideal to cut through weeds. Lots of fisherman use braids at night, just not my thing.
Big bass to 10 lbs are not uncommon at night in the lakes where I fish, although a giant bass over 15 are rare, only one 15 that I know of caught legally. My very first charity tournament back in1991 the weights were unreal because the lake had never been legally fished at night. I came in 2nd with 54lbs, 58 lbs won it. Now it's takes about 30 to 35 lbs to win the early season night tournaments.
Does the boat lights bother bass? I use the underwater light and it's 300,000 CP and you would think in our clear water that would chase any bass away, but it doesn't seem to bother them at all. If lights bother you, then use what you have confidence with.
Bugs are not a major problem here, a few gnats and occasional mosquito. I learned a lession about night fishing and bugs in Canada when I tried that...wow, thats a big problem.
Tom
 

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On any given summer day I estimate the night bite will net 3-4 times more bass than fishing in daylight. We might struggle one day to boat a limit of 6, but that night the catch will likely go to 20-25 heavier bass. At the same time there will be folks good by day that can't buy a bite at night. A little interview usually shows up why.

Keith, I wear a RayoVac LED headlamp mostly with the same options. But some of our bugs see and come to the red. Around here yellow bug lights on the house don't work anymore. They draw bugs. Yellow night lights along streets now host swarming bats and clouds of insects. Even dimmed the light from my GPS-sonar screen draws bugs, even on night view. I bought a battery operated bug chaser that seems to work for now, a Sunbeam product. Label is broken off. I couldn't begin to number the nights we've had to slow way down outboarding because of the pain and mess of a rain of bugs slapping our faces. It's a lot like traveling through light sleet. The windshield is useless, coated with gut.

I get about as many backlashes from mono as I do braid, and at night either case means laying that reel out of action or slicing the line and ripping it out, replacing under less than desirable conditions. I carry one rod at night but several preloaded reels. By using the super sized hooks I must set the hook hard. If it grabs some tough tissue like the roof of the mouth, type of line won't cost me a fish. That anchor of a hook is likely to connect solidly and hold that fish. He isn't coming unbuttoned. In the south many of our fisheries demand a heck of a setup to manage a large bass swimming into the most impossible cover available. I've many times had to hold the line tight to prevent more travel while ripping up hydrilla where the line has made a turn. Eventually we make it to the fish and the fight resumes, thought not nearly as dramatically. It takes a lot out of a bass to navigate thick hydrilla that won't let baitfish get in or back out. At least in daylight you can see what is about to happen and maybe prevent it. At night you find out what happened and try to fix it.

A great light that won't spook fish but will help netting visibility is one like this at http://www.fishinglights.com/fishing-light_FirstLight.htm The one locals have been trying out is another brand, and I can't find it online yet. It was on special at the last boat show. I don't think they are online yet. These things work.

Jim
 
G

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Tom, I am referring to shining spot lights at the bank etc while fishing. That indeed does spook fish. Underwater lights that are on all the time are totally different.

I found the reason braid out shines mono is because it is far more supple and allows more vibration through the bait thus producing more underwater vibration. That one factor alone makes braid superior to mono. Mono tends to dampen the baits vibration. The heavier the mono the worse it is at allowing the vibration to run through the bait. Try it someday and feel the difference back to you when reeling in a spinnerbait with braid and the same spinnerbait on 20lb mono. Big difference.

Jim, I suppose leaving the red light on for a long time would draw some bugs but I cut it off once I am done with it. Plus it doesn't temporarily blind me like the LED and bright lights do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The vibrations the bass feel or hear are not dampened by mono line when fishing plastic worms, jigs, spinnerbaits, crank baits and top water baits. What bass feel with their lateral line nerve endings is the water displacement created by the lure moving through the water column, the pulses the blades, worm tail make moving water and the sound the lure makes contacting the bottom. The dampened feed back to the fisherman as to what the lure is doing is affected by mono line and that is one of the reasons I prefer mono at night. I use clips on cranks to give the lure free movement and eliminate tying directly to lures with treble hooks at night.
A surface bite is easy to hear or feel and underwater strikes are not timid at night where I fish, the bass are out to kill the prey and strike with a purpose so the creature doesn't escape into the darkness. I agree that the spinner baits wire arm and blade type design is important, day or night.
Braid and fluorocarbon are both low stretch and water proof and stay dry, this leads to the line loosening on the reel and backlashing. The reason I prefer Big Game is because it is the best casting line available and is the reason I use it for crank baits, it rarely backlashes and thats a plus at night. I use braid in the same conditions at night as I do in the day, heavy cover and try to avoid that at night.
Green or cyan color is the preferred night vision color today. Bugs are a major problem in Florida or nearly everywhere. I'm very lucky in that regards and forget that white light is a problem everywhere else.
Tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
It's been a few months since this thread was started and wondered how many of you have out fishing "summer nights"? We have had a few charity tournaments and there is another one tonight at lake Casitas that could take over 40 pounds to win. The big bass bite has been great at night on deep cranks on weed breaks over structure.
The green under water light systems have become very popular this year with the threat of west Nile fever mosquito's.
Tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The lake Casitas night tournament only required 30 lbs to win and 11.2 big bass, the fishing was off somewhat. Crank baits caught the majority of quality bass with worms, jigs double buzzers working for most anglers.
Zip responses so I will stop writing to myself and save the time to fill in the details.
Tom
 

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I went out with of of the bait booth guys to show him what can be caught on Lake Ouachita, getting on the water just before dark Saturday night. The pros have been mostly catching 1-2 pound bass, and mostly bringing in less than a limit. I caught a 3 pounder right off on a 10" black Zoom Monster, and my partner caught a 4 pounder 30 minutes later, lost a pig 10 minutes later (est. at least 6 pounds) at the same spot no farther than 1/2 mile from the Brady ramp where they launched those 4 days. At least he knew the lake has the potential. It was a spot in a cove with deep standing timber. That's all he needed to see, so we loaded up and went home. The trouble was the bass just were not biting well days, so the key was to target the big bass first as close to morning as possible, then work on a limit the rest of the day. Most of the guys went for the limit first, then try for a kicker. That wasn't a good call, as I've written about here before. Getting in that conventional habit can ruin your tournament. I watched a lot of humiliated anglers walk up on the weigh-in stage carrying no fish, one one pounder, two weighing 1.8 pounds, barely legal. What stubbornness! Mark Davis passed tips to Suggs that matched what I was saying all along, and here's how Suggs pulled it off Sunday. From FLW site: "Suggs targeted big fish Sunday using a 10-inch Berkley PowerWorm and a spinnerbait. His efforts yielded just two bass weighing 6 pounds, 1 ounce. When added to his catch of five bass weighing 11 pounds from Saturday, however, the fish proved to be enough to fend off his rivals and claim the world's most lucrative prize in a bass-fishing tournament. "I focused on suspending fish around submerged trees in 30 to 40 feet of water with the fish sitting in 20 to 25 feet near main-lake breaks,""

I don't think any of the others caught on to that pattern in time, though I told a bunch of folks selling baits what it would take to win the million dollars. The spinnerbait part threw me. I wouldn't have tried that since our bass see so many every day, and usually stop biting them when pressured like that. Suggs has been fishing Ouachita a long time, a former guide at Mt. Harbor, so I figure he already had a good idea where to go and what to do. The bass have definitely turned to night feeding, which speaks volumes about how to fish for them days.

Jim
 
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Great info Jim. I would confess that I fall into that trap myself. Go for the numbers early get a limit then upgrade. It makes sense though if the bite is happening then why not target the bigger fish then beat banks for smaller fish to fill the limit?

I wish i am able to fish at night. My boat is still down and bank fishing here at night is just crazy. I enjoy fishing at night better then the day actually. For one it is not insanely hot. Although here in Florida it gets super wet. Humidity is so bad here that your hands will actually get granny skin just from the dampness in the air. Rods are always slippery from being wet. Another thing here that ruins my enjoyment of fishing at night is the constant barrage of airboaters. Personally I am not in favor of airboats. I think they should be a noise nuisance and disallowed. Those things are disturbingly noisy. Nothing ruins a peaceful night more then a bunch of airboaters running around gigging frogs.

I miss fishing Texas lakes at night actually. I think to fish peacefully here in Florida you have to find large ponds or lakes in private home communities and fish those. Otherwise you will have to deal with noise pollution from airboats.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I was out of town for the 11 August Casitas night tournament that was won with 33+ lb limit and 9 lb kicker.
Thought I add a little story line to this. Two guys I know both asked me if I was fishing this tournament and when I said no and they both asked for few of my jigs and custom pork trailers. One of the two guys used the jigs and won the tournament, the other didn't even bother to try them and placed 43rd fishing crank baits that won the last event. This isn't to say that what I gave them worked that great, however the kicker and another 7 lber help them win. I told them both to try the rocky points around the big Island andthe winning and 4th place finisher fished near each other around the big Island, where I would have fished. Who knows maybe could of or should of done well, if I followed my own advice and business didn't get in the way.
Tom
 
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