If you're wondering what to do on a dark winter night when the only light of the day is our bright moon, there's no better way to spend your time than by fishing. Fishing at night offers an excellent opportunity for generating a diverse catch. Some people also get overwhelmed with a fear of darkness and will stay inside. If that sounds like you, just flip on some lights!
But there are many more reasons to enjoy fishing during the night-time. The cold winter night air feels nice against your face and body, it's quieter, the lack of sunlight means diminished glare off the water surface, and it can be a lot more productive- less fish have been caught during the day!
I recommend trying some night fishing this winter! Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your night fishing experience:
Make sure you check the moon, tides and night fishing regulations before night time. Once night falls, make sure your equipment is in order. Look for frayed lines or hooks. If you're using a flashlight to see at night, make sure that it's working properly and has fresh batteries. I suggest having 3 sources of light: flashlight, headlamp and night vision. If you're night fishing for fish like Salmon or halibut, be prepared to catch something by having a net handy. This helps prevent the night predator from escaping with your trophy.
Use night time tackle that will allow you to see in the dark. Use a light source that emits a beam of bright white or blue light, like an LED flashlight or night vision goggles. Also make sure your night fishing equipment is durable so it won't break when used underwater at night. Make sure to bring a backup just in case.
If night time is the right time to do some night fishing, then night fishing isn't limited to just any old waters! Look for night fish in waters that are shaded or light-absorbing. Take a drive along your favorite night fishing route and look for bridges, piers, docks or other light-shaded areas. Be sure to check night fishing regulations in the area, as night fishing is only allowed at night under special circumstances.
When night fishing, use a night rod and night lures or bait.
Night rods are usually made of graphite and have very little or no action to them, so they allow you to see the easy night bite that you've been missing for so long. Night lures should be colorless or glow-in-the-dark types. However, night fish can be caught with night baits like night crawlers or night leeches. Try not to use night fishing lures that are too flashy and bright; remember, the darker it is out, the harder it is for the night fish to see your night fishing lure.
Use night fishing bait wisely.
Night crawlers and night leeches can be night fish magnets, but you shouldn't only rely on night crawlers or night leeches for night fishing success. You should catch night fish with any type of night fishing bait that attracts them to your line. Remember: the less movement the better! Try night baiting and night fishing on a regular night hook to see what night action you can get.
Night fish from shore or on a boat.
Night fishing can be done by either situation, but I recommend the latter for safety reasons. If you night fish from shore, you risk falling into the water and injuring yourself. If you fall into the water at night, it will be difficult to see in order to swim back to shore. Night fishing from a boat is safer and more efficient than night fishing from shore.
Fish the right depth at night!
Fish between 2 to 20 feet of water, depending on what kind of fish you're trying to catch that night. This will vary with different locations and situations; just keep in mind where you're night fishing and what you're trying to catch.
Know fish behavior by season.
If you don't know what fish do at night, then it's obvious that you won't know the best ways to attract them! A good way to start is by knowing what each type of fish does in different seasons. For instance, Smallmouth Bass "chum" in the spring and fall. This means that you can use night fishing tactics in those two seasons to attract Smallmouth Bass.
Know what fish eat at night.
Night fishing for predators like Musky or Northern Pike requires some special tactics, as they don't always strike at lures. To attract the night fish, you should use a night crawler or other type of dead bait that the predator will eat at night.
Use glow sticks and a lantern.
Use glow sticks to attract bait fish or the night predator will mistake you for a rival predator. Use a small bright light as your main source of illumination, and save the glow stick(s) for backup (I use 2 just in case one breaks). This also helps me see my line better, which is important because if your line gets tangled in the weeds you may spend a lot of time trying to figure it out.
Keep your eyes open for night predators lurking around.
Keep an eye on whatever you are fishing at, but be careful not to spook the predator or scare away your bait fish. If there is a predator lurking around, it will probably try to sneak up on you and the bait fish. You should keep your eyes open for movement and listen for noises when night fishing to avoid a surprise attack by another predator. If you hear or see the predator before it is too late, you may be able to scare it away with lights or noise while avoiding any confrontation.
Leave a night fishing journal.
Keep a list of the fish you caught, including when and where you caught them. This can be very helpful if you are trying to learn more about what fish do at night, especially in different seasons. You can also include what lures worked for each situation or species of fish.
Night fishing is a very fun and exciting way to catch fish. By following these 12 tips, you can be assured that you will land many night fish in no time.