Night Fishing. How To Fish At Night And Increase Your Catch Rate.

Night fishing.

Fishing at night time can open up new opportunities, with potentially greater rewards. Like a better catch rate and bigger fish, regardless, fishing at night is just plain fun.

But night fishing in the pitch dark is not for everyone and the there are some challenges. Like the cold, visibility, safety precautions, etc. However, with some common sense and planning, we can enjoy fishing in the dark safely.

Hopefully I have sold you on the idea, or at least interested you in the thought. Please read on for more information. (And a few night fishing tips as well.)

 

The benefits of night fishing.

There are quite a few advantages of learning how to fish at night.

One, that there is less competition from other anglers. Backing the boat in at your favorite boat ramp, at 1am in the morning and there may not be a soul about. Walking the stream banks and not coming across other anglers in your fishing spot is great.

Some anglers just enjoy the solitude.

As there are less fisherman disturbing the water, the fish may not be as timid.

Also some fish species feed primarily at night. A lot of fish become more active at night and feed more aggressively.

Bigger fish can came in closer to the shore, or bank to feed at night.

For me, one big benefit of fishing at night time is it gives me a whole lot of new fishing time available.

Instead of limiting yourself to just around 12 hours or so of fishing time in the day. You can now choose around 24 hours of fishing opportunities. Of course, work, partners and children get in the way. But potentially an extra 12 hours or so of extra fishing time available. Have to love that. Yeah!

Fishing at nighttime

Where to fish at night time?

If you don’t know where to start, inquire with: friends, fishing forums, bait shops, jetties, fishing maps, fishing clubs, Fisheries, Parks and Wildlife Rangers, are places that might have some information were to fish.

A lot of times, the local fishing shop near you, is a good place to start.

Be mindful, that the real good locations are probably not going to be shared. And that is okay. But hopefully, you should get some basic information on where to start.

Now we have a rough initial area to scout around.

Ideally, before you even venture out at night fishing, explore the area first in the daylight if you can.

Do your homework and check it out. Ask yourself several questions like: What fish species are there? What do they eat?

Are there shallow bays where the fish might come in to feed at night?

What snags are there, that you might get the line caught on? Are there any structures the fish might be drawn to?

Mark good fishing locations and hazards with a GPS, or you phone app. If you don’t do the high tech, draw a rough sketch map. This will come in handy later on, for the night.

If you are boating rivers or lakes, mark any rocks or potential hazards.

If you have to walk a fare distance to the water. Check the track to make sure there are no pot holes, or dangers along the trail. Such as a steep narrow trail, close to the water.

Places to fish around, are substrates like: Weed beds, rocks, reefs, submerged trees, drop offs, inlets and outlets, shallow bays and deep pools.

Also piers, jetties, canals and dam walls are other locations fish can frequent.

These places are ideal homes for baitfish, crawfish, tadpoles, frogs and aquatic insects, which then means food for the bigger fish.

For saltwater fishing, are there any or channels, reefs or buoys around? How high or low do the tides go in and out?

What structures or dangers are exposed at low tide? Where is the closet boat ramps?

If you are surf fishing, are there any sand gutters running parallel to the beach or sand flats? Are there any inlets and outlets, which the fish might hang around?

A high hill, or cliff face overlooking the water is a good vantage point to see the outlay of the reefs during the day. Google maps, or maritime maps might be worth checking out.

For fly fishing, if you visit the area in the day, check underneath some rocks, weeds and logs in the water and see what insects, or food is about. The river bank and water’s edge, is a wealth of information. Click on Fly Fishing Tips and Tricks  for more information.

Knowing the layout of the area in the day, will give you valuable information and peace of mind during the night fish.

We hopefully have found a few good spots to fish now at night.

How to fish at night.

Equipment for night fishing.

 Attract it, glow in the dark lures.

Try glow in the dark lures. With some types of fluro lures, you only have to shine the torch on them for a few seconds and they glow brightly in the dark.

If you are using bait, you can get fluro beads that you place on your fishing line, just above your hook. Some fisherman swear by them and state it attracts the fish.

For fly tying, there are plenty of materials to use for the fly, which helps it stand out at night, or glow.

 

Help see your rod tip and hear a fish bite?

Use glowing strike indicators on the fishing rod at night. This can be attached to the rod tip and you can visually see if your rod tip twitches and gets a bite.

You can also get audio fishing alarms that you connect to the line. When you get a bite, the line is pulled out of the device and an alarm sound goes off, indicating you have a bite.

When bank fishing for trout, the old favorite way is to have the rod resting up on a “Y” stick pushed into the bank. The fishing line is then put around the neck of a bottle standing up. When the fish takes the line, the bottle is knocked over giving a visual and audio indication of a strike.

If the bottle is too light, you can put a little bit of dirt, or water, or pebbles in it. Be careful that too heavier bottle and the fish might feel the weight of the bottle.

A used soda can work as well. Place a line around the top of it. Put a few small pebbles in it. When the fish takes the bait the can will get knocked over and makes a sound.

Use bells on the fishing rod. You can buy small bells with a clip that clamps on to your rod. When the rod gets a bite and the rod tip moves, it rings.

One drawback for visual and audio strike indicators is, that for fussy fish that don’t bite hard, it may not work.

Fly fishing at night

Use heavier poundage line for night fishing in the dark.

This will depend on your target fish species, location and method of fishing, but I generally use heavier line for night fishing.

There are a couple of reasons for this: You are more likely to get snags as it is harder to see were you cast.

Also you may not spot any tangles or knots in your set up when they happen. Every part of the line is harder to see all the time.

There is more chance of bigger fish while fishing in the dark. The bigger fish can come in closer to the shoreline, or water edges. The big fish might be feeding more at night-time as well.

As an example for chasing trout fly fishing, if you use 6 lbs tippet material during the day, you might go to 8 lb or even 10 lb for night fishing. If you fish until dawn, you might the change to 4 lb line for the calm morning waters

If you are saltwater fishing for species around areas that might have sharks. It is a good idea to go up in line poundage any way. As you want to get the fish in the boat quicker, rather than playing the fish carefully and a shark takes it from you.

As it is harder to see you’re your gear, make an effort to shine the torchlight on the line and reel.

In the boat if you fish near reefs and rocky outcrops, check you line often as well.

If you are fishing for small fish in areas with little snags, then just use the same poundage line.

 

Bigger flies and lures for the night?

Use bigger profile lures and flies. As the shape might need to stand out more with the low light conditions in the water.

As the trout, bass, salmon, carp, saltwater fish, etc. may not be as timid at night and the visibility is less, try a bigger profile fly or lure.

The fish, regardless if they are looking up at the lure, down at it or sideways should see a big lure, easier than a small lure.

A bigger lure can also make more sound, movement and vibration by displacing more water, which can be a trigger for the fish to chase it as well.

(I am not talking about a ridiculous big size lure, which only jaws would eat. I am talking about going up one to two sizes on what you would normally use.)

Spinner-baits for bass, jigs, soft plastics, plugs, poppers, spinners, spoons, deep divers, whatever you fish, try to see if a bigger lure makes a difference at night time?

A bigger lure combined, with a stronger action should help get the fish’s attention in low light or in the dark.

For very spooky fish species, or fish that does not feed aggressively, then a bigger lure or fly probably won’t work.

 

Lure and fly color.

A lot of marketing money goes into designing lures for fisherman. With all types of colors and patterns to choose from.

Most anglers have their favorite combination and will argue forever about this pattern, or that color.

For me I don’t think a color combination, or patterns for a fishing lure is as important as profile, action and the ability to be seen easy by the fish.

The reason why is; a lot of colors get washed out the deeper they go in the water anyway. Sun light only penetrates in the water so far. (I am not talking about fishing on the surface with poppers and dry flies.)

Also murky waters limit the visibility and for fishing and in the night, the light is obviously reduced as well.

As an example, the color red and orange which has a long wave length and doesn’t penetrate well in clear water at deep depths. It might only penetrate around 17 feet (About 5m.) or so, before the colors look grayish.  So in bad lighting or murky waters, it will be harder to see.

A lot of colors will just turn grey at deep depths, because of limited light.

The fish has to able to see the lure first, hence a good bigger profile and good action of the lure is more important for a start.

If you look at fish, from small bait-fish to bigger fish, their colors are designed so they are camouflaged. They do not want to be seen by predators and get eaten. Or they want to sneak up on something and eat it. Like a crab or smaller bait-fish.

The pattern on most of the fish, is to have a light underside and darker top or back.

The lighter underside is so if a fish or predator is underneath them, looking up into the brighter surface, they are more camouflaged.

And if a predator looks down on them, like a bird, the darker back blends in better with the darker bottom.

So why do we make our lures, hide from the fish we want to catch?

It is pretty silly isn’t it? Are we trying to hide our lures? (Lure action aside.)

It is because a bait-fish looks that way to an angler. And we think if that pattern of a real bait-fish works catching a fish, then it must work?

And it does work. In “Fly fishing terms, matching the hatch,” is a good tactic for fussy locked on fish, who are only selecting one type of insect to eat in a hatch.

(Some scientists believe trout use this tactic to save energy as they are only locking on one food source to eat.)

But for general fishing, I believe we have it backwards.

So instead of trying to hide or camouflage our lures to a fish, we should make the lure easy to see. (Good action and profile size aside.)

So maybe a better pattern and color is: a darker color for the underside and a lighter color for the top of the lure.

We have automatically increased our lures visibility. (Once again profile and lure action aside.)

As the color of the lures and flies get washed out, the deeper it goes. Then we need a color like black or purple that will stand out more in deeper, or lower light waters. Such as fishing in the dark.

There are other colors as well that work. But a very dark color will hold its color better in deeper waters. Yet can still be seen and silhouetted close to the surface (Profile size will affect it.)

As silver can reflect light and flash, like fish scales glittering, we might have a lateral line of silver in the lure.

For the fly, (Not dry flies.) a few strands of some silver or tinsel that reflects the light might be able to mix in the body or wings. Something like Flashabou or holographic material.

In shallow water, for the top of the lure or fly, (Depending on the depth we are fishing it.) it might be a high contrast color. Like white, or silver color to stand out against a fish looking down at a dark back ground.

For deeper water, the fly or lure just might be all black or purple, with a little bit of silver or holographic material on it.

Or a black or purple lure or fly, with some glow in the dark / fluro material mixed in.

It is probably not as easy or simple as this. As there are a lot of other more important factors that come into play, rather than just lure color.

Such as: The lure action working correctly, diving to the correct depth, size, etc.

Overall, color and pattern may not be a major priority.

 

Headlamps for hands free.

If you have ever tried to play a fish, hold a handheld torch light on the fish and net it at the same time, you will know it can be hard to do all three things at once.

So a headlamp is very handy and gives you the option of hands free.

 

Have a couple of flashlights.

Have two or three sources of lights when night fishing, in case one fails.

My headlamp is my primary light I use when fishing.

I have a small Olight that attaches to my key-ring for a backup light.

If I am bank fishing, or in the boat, I have a medium size flashlight with me.

I might use the flashlight walking to my fishing spot, then swap to my headlamp for the actual fishing.

There are some great flashlights out there on the market and some have very high lumens for a good price.

While you have your light on your phone, you are better keeping the phoned fully charged, in case there is an emergency.

 

Use light to attract insects.

Some people use strong artificial lights to attract the small bait-fish, or aquatic and terrestrial insects.

This can then attract other medium size fish and hopefully bigger fish around the area. Check you’re fishing regulations if you are allowed to use them.

It can be a very effective technique on the right fish species.

 

Wire trace.

If you are angling for fish with nasty teeth, sharks, or fish that have sharp gill rakers, then some wire trace might be considered.

This is also a good idea around reefs and places that have sharp rock ledges.

 

Double check your gear and maintain it.

Fishing equipment for night fishing

Fishing equipment can go pear shaped easily when fishing at night, so double check your gear. Make sure it is up to standards before you go.

Such as if your leader has micro abrasions from playing that bass. Cut the worn line off and change it.

Perhaps your reels might need a drop of oil on them to lubricate.

Or maybe it is time to swap the low quality treble hooks, on the expensive lures to better quality ones.

You might clean your gear. Or put fresh floatant on the lines to make it float higher on the water surface.

By checking the fishing gear in the day, rather than fumble around in the dark changing tackle, you save time and frustration.

As well as checking your equipment before you go fishing, check it regularly at night.

I don’t want to admit it, but I have lost a nice double figure trout by being lazy. I was fly fishing and checked my line and found a small wind knot in the tippet. I couldn’t get the knot out.  I was planning on packing up and going home in a few minutes, so I thought I won’t bother replacing the line and kept fishing.

Three cast later and bang, I was on a nice fish. A few minutes of playing the fish, I eventually got it close enough to see it was a big brown trout, maybe around 11 pounds or so. (In the back of my mind I was praying that the line would hold.) Then murphy’s’ law struck and the line snapped.

I inspected the line and saw where it broke, right were the wind knot was… I think I nearly cried.

So the point is, lack of preparation cost me a very nice fish. So check your gear often and replace what needs changing. Especially when fishing at night.

 

Keeping warm while fishing.

As the daylight fades the temperatures can really drop and get cold. Especially near the water. So a good idea is to have extra layers of clothing to keep you warm.

A set of waterproofs in case in rains, or to stop the wind and spray is worth carrying.

Other items that keep you warmer are a good beanie and gloves.

Neoprene waders are warmer for wading in the cold water, compared to pvc waders. Although you still might have some fleece pants and thermals on, depending on the water temperature.

If you are surf fishing along the beach at night and get in the water a fair bit, a wetsuit might be an option and a spray jacket.

 

Don’t put your hands in the water.

Use extra-long handled nets and fishing gaff hooks when fishing at night, with places that might have sharks, crocs and alligators around.

The last thing you want to be doing is leaning over the side of the boat with a short handled net to land the fish.

Your visibility is less and there is more chance of something big and nasty lurking around the boat, when the fish is splashing about at night time. That reminds me of some fishing jokes about the one armed angler, that… Sorry, I am getting distracted.

 

Don’t buy all new tackle and test it out at night.

Be mindful of buying new reels or equipment that you haven’t used them before in the day time.

As an example a new reel might have a different drag operation, or lever. Learning about how a new fishing toy works in the dark, isn’t good idea.

Also you probably don’t want to learn new fishing techniques like, how to use a bait caster reel with braid, if you have never used it before.

 

 

Tips for night fishing. How to fish at night.

 

Practice your fishing knots.

Practice tying knots in the day.

If you are a beginner, learning how to tie knots at night isn’t the way to go. Practice first in the daytime, so it becomes second nature to tie the fishing knot.

 

Hold the rod to increase your chances of getting a fish.

Even if you use glow sticks on your rod tip to see it in the dark. Most of the time you are best to hold the rod and feel the line, while waiting for the fish to bite.

Don’t place all the rods in the rod holder and sit back and wait. Ideally have one rod in your hand, so you can feel the bite and strike quicker. This is a lot more effective than putting the rod in the rod holder.

This one fishing tip, will increase your odds of catching fish.

I remember chasing saltwater fish in a boat with some friends. We all used the same bait.

They would cast their rods out and place them in the rod holders straight away. I would cast out and hold my rod in my hands while waiting. If they got a strike the time they reached over and got the rod out of the holder the fish would be gone.

The fish in this area were very finicky and they would just nibble the bait. Even if you watched your rod tip, you could easy miss the bite.

(This was fishing in the day time. So it would be easier not to see the nibble at night time.)

With holding the rod, this tactic worked well and I easily out fished my friends that day. I do feel a bit bad about not telling them about this simple fishing tip.

 

Hedge your bets for fishing at night.

For bait fishing sometimes it is good to try two different baits on the one hook. This can help if don’t know what bait to use and you have less rods out, such as fishing at night.

As an example for saltwater, you might put some squid on the hook with some shellfish. Or a type of baitfish with a shrimp, or crab on the hook.

For freshwater, worms with some corn. Or some commercial type bait like Powerbait with grubs.

It will depend on your target fish species, but strong smelling baits are generally very effective at night.

You might even hang a slice of bait-fish fillet, off a lure or jig.

For fly fishing occasionally I find some dead bait fish, or insects. Now and then I might squash them up and smear it on the fly.

I don’t know how effective it is, or if it works. Sense of smell is vital for some fish, so it might give the angler an advantage.

 

Secure your gear.

As you are more likely to lose gear fishing at night time, secure it. Lash it, and tape it down.

When camping, hunting or fishing I will attach my car keys to a short lanyard. This is then attached around my belt, so I don’t lose my keys. Especially when fishing in the dark.

Sometimes I will put my keys in a dry bag with my phone and put this in my fishing PFD.

If you are after some bigger fish, you might use rod holders to secure your rods.

For my fishing kayak, I use a lanyard attached to my rods. It has a big stainless steel clip that is easy unclip, in case I need to undo it.

In the boat and kayak, I have pliers that are attached to a floating cork or plastic bubble. If I do accidentally drop it overboard it will float.

You can also get floating knives and flashlights.

 

Have spare batteries.

Check your batteries in the flashlights before you venture out. Have some spare batteries in a snap lock bag with you, or in the glove box or boat.

 

Phone charger.

A phone charger is a good idea as well.

I remember a few times when fishing at night time and I planned to only fish for a few hours. The fishing was productive, so I ended up fishing all night. So a phone charger is good idea, especially if you check the time, use apps, like checking the weather often.

 

Moonlight and tides fishing.

Plan your trips around the tides if saltwater fishing.

Fishing at night time, doesn’t mean it has to be totally pitch black. It is amazing how much light a full moon and cloudless clear sky can have.

A full moon might have a positive effect of fish feeding behavior as well. So between the moons cycle and the tides, plan your night fishing trips.

 

Check the weather.

Double check the weather forecast. Especially for fishing from the boat, or kayak at night-time.

Learning how to fish at night has its challenges and risks. So don’t complicate it more by fishing in bad conditions.

You can always go another time.

In addition, always pack some waterproofs and additional layers of clothing in case the forecast for good weather is wrong.

 

A red light for better night vision.

Use a red light, rather than a white light to help preserve your night vision.

If you use white light to tie re-bait the hook, the light can reduce your night vision and can take around fifteen to twenty minutes for your night vision to get back.

Try to limit the times that you turn light on and off.

Also some headlamps and flashlights have a dimmer so you can adjust the light. Too high and it can temporary blind you, so a low setting at night can work well.

If you use a flashlight or headlamp hasn’t got a red or colored lens, some people use red cellophane over the light. Or a rubber balloon can be stretched over it and taped on to dim the light.

 

The spooky shadow.

If you are fishing small streams and ponds, be aware of your shadow at night time can spook the fish.

Because it is night, we don’t think about shadows, or camouflage and concealment for fishing.

But fish, depending on target species can have excellent eyesight at night time, even more than the day. So make sure you are not silhouetted against the sky and look like a big stork wading bird, to a small trout.

 

Service your boat.

If fishing at night in the middle of nowhere, the last thing you want for the motor to cut out or not start. So have you boat motor serviced regularly.

 

Out of gas.

Check that your boat gas tanks are full. Ideally don’t just rely on the tank gauge. If you can manually check them before heading out, the better.

Extra fuel is handy if you are venturing out a long way from shore.

 

Dry clothes.

For night kayak fishing, make sure you have a wet-suit or appropriate gear on, if you do take a dip.

Paddling to your initial spot you might get hot, so layer your gear.

When you stop paddling and start to cool down have some warm layers of clothing handy.

Keep closer to shore when night fishing and make sure you wear your life jacket.

Have some dry clothes and a towel waiting for you in the car. As there is a good chance you might get wet.

This is probably a good tip for any angler, whether you are fishing for bass in a boat, saltwater fishing for sharks, or chasing trout, have some dry clothes in the car in case you get wet.

 

A hot drink.

In the boat, backpack, or back at the car, a hot drink can work wonders to warm you up when fishing at night.

A thermos flask with tea, coffee or hot chocolate, is nice. Also holding the warm mug when your hands are cold is an added bonus.

 

Stay hydrated.

When fishing in the dark, it is easy to lose track of the time. And because it is colder, you don’t feel like drinking. But keep the liquids up, as it is easy to get dehydrated.

Especially hiking a few miles to carry in the fishing gear in.

 

Dusk and dawn.

I remember a few spearfishing trips, were I spearfished until dark. It was amazing that the docile sleepy fish during the day, then started darting about and a whole lot of new species seem to appear in the water on dusk.

The difference in the fish’s behavior, was literally night and day. (Pardon the pun.)

Likewise when spearfishing very early on dawn, the fish eventually became scarce and lethargic again as it become more daylight.

I assume that some of these fish species that like the night, have been hiding all day half asleep. When night time comes, they are hungry and energetic to catch some food.

Having said this I have caught a fair few fish on dusk. I love fly fishing when the sun is coming up, searching for trout when they are feeding in shallow bays.

Now this will depend on your targeted fish species and techniques used, but some fish will be a lot more active at dusk, or dawn.

Weather, tides, food sources, currents also play a big difference, but use dusk and dawn to your fishing advantage.

As an example, you might decide to go to bed early, wake up at say, three in the morning and fish in the dark. Then also take advantage of the sun rising and fish a few hours in the morning, by changing fishing techniques and actively spotting and stalking the fish.

Fishing on dusk and dawn are great times for bass fishing, so why not mix a bit of night fishing in their as well.

 

Chum lines.

Use burley, chum, etc. If your fishing regulations in your area allow you to use fish attractors like chum, it might be worth considering it.

From throwing in handfuls of corn kernels for carp fishing to get them excited, to using mashed up bait-fish for tuna, or for shark fishing, the sky’s the limit.

One thing to watch out for, is that it is harder to see your chum line, or slick line direction. Keep an eye out for changing tides, currents, wind, etc.

Attractors that you dangle under the boat are good for pelagic fish and might work in well with slick line. You can hang them of the chum bucket as well.

 

Fishing at night can enhance your senses.

Fishing in the dark is a great way to fully utilize your senses, like hearing. A trout slurping down insect from the water’s surface is an amazing sound.

Feeling the sharp pull of the fishing line in the pitch blackness, is a great feeling and gets the heart beating.

Shark fishing at night isn’t for the feint hearted. It really gets the senses working overtime. As not only is there chance of catching a shark, but your mind wanders about how big it might be?

Once you get past a certain basic skill level, fly fishing in the dark is an amazing way to get to feel the rod and fly line working together. Like the rod load up. I think it can actually improve your skill set and feel.

(On the other hand it can be extremely frustrating if you haven’t got a nice calm night, or you are still learning the basics.) Click on  How To Fly Fish  for more information.

If this is your first time fly fishing at night, don’t try and get too much fly line out. Limit your false casts and check for wind knots every so often.

 

 

Mindset for night fishing.

Your mind does wonder a bit in the dark, it is natural we get a bit apprehensive of what we can’t see.

So we don’t get too anxious fishing at night by ourselves, fish with a friend. This is good safety anyway.

Also don’t try and pull an all – nighter fishing, if you haven’t done much fishing in the dark before. Take things easy at first, perhaps just fish until a bit after sunset. After you get used to rolling around at night, increase your fishing time and see how you go.

One funny story was, well it wasn’t funny at the time for me. I was kayak fishing in the dark, in a river mouth that opened into the sea.

I was paddling to my spot, in the middle of the river, when my left paddle hit something hard in the water. I thought I hit the back of a shark and nearly died of freight. It turned out the paddle hit a hard sand bank.

So the point is your imagination can go wild very easy. (I should have taken my own advice as well and done my homework on the location. So I would have known the area better.)

 

Rubbish.

I was debating on whether to put this bit of information in or not, and then I thought this is a very important fishing tip. Take your rubbish home with you.

If you don’t, a lot of fishing spots will end up getting closed. As, it looks awful and damages the environment. It can also attract predators.

If you can take the food / drink packaging to the camping, hunting or fishing spot, so please take it home again.

Be responsible, or no one will be allowed to camp and the fishing spots will close.

 

Night fishing safety.

 

Boating safety at night. Wear a PFD.

Even if the rules and regulations say you don’t have to wear a PFD, or life jacket, put it on.

You can get some great fishing PFDs that are low profile and won’t annoy you while working the rods in the boat.

Well, maybe annoy you a little bit, but that is the price to pay for safety.

Also you can get the automatic inflatable PFD. When they get soaked they will inflate. While there are some pros and cons about this type of vest, you are better off at least with something in case you take an unexpected swim.

Overall there is no excuse not to wear a life jacket that could save your life!

Even if you are not boating, but walking around the river’s or lake edge, a PFD might be worth wearing when fishing.

 

Take the fishing waders off.

If you use waders to help put the boat in the water, take them off and put the appropriate footwear on, before boating off.

I have heard if fall out the boat with waders on, you won’t sink to the bottom like a brick, but the main issue is that they fill up with water. This makes it nearly impossible to get back on the boat. Little known at night time in cold water.

 

The lucky to be alive story.

I remember fishing for snapper one night in the boat with my dad.

We were saltwater fishing in a large sheltered bay. I was probably around twelve years old.

It was a very calm night, the water was almost flat, just a gentle rock of the boat. Perfect conditions for night fishing and we were in a 14 foot aluminum boat.

Around 1 o’clock in the morning I crept up to the bow to have a sleep under the canopy, next minute, bang the boat shook and pitched nose under a big wave. A big freak wave engulfed the boat and water splashed under the canopy, around it and over the top of it.

Luckily we were anchored with plenty of rope and facing bow on to the wave.

I guess if were side on, or in a smaller boat we would have been in trouble.

We are not sure were the wave come from? Perhaps it was a wave that built up from a cargo ship. As there was a shipping lane a long way away. Who knows, but it was a flat sea, perfect conditions, yet a freak wave nearly capsized our boat.

I wasn’t wearing a life jacket at the time, as boating safety back then was an afterthought. We did have life jackets in the boat, but they were stuffed up in the bow.

I hate to think what would have happened if we had capsized in the cold water, without life jackets on.

I have covered wearing a PFD. But the point is, wear one even in calm conditions.

Another good tip is too have a long anchor rope. This allowed our boat to ride the wave a bit. A short anchor rope can be dangerous in rough waters.

 

 

Drive the boat slow.

Obviously drive the boat slower at night time.

Whether freshwater fishing on a lake, or boating in the saltwater, you have floating logs and other vessels that might be hard to see.

Also not all boats will do the right thing and have lights flashing, so you know they are there.

If you have a fishing friend with you, a spot light scanning the water ahead is good safety.

 

Hiking in.

If you are hiking in to fish in remote places at night, be aware of the wildlife at night time. Obviously don’t fish were big predators like bears and alligators fish as well.

Have a map and compass (And know how to use it. For more information click on – How To Use A Compass.) in case your GPS or cell phone crashes and burns.

Have a survival kit with a few ways to light a fire, dry tinder, first aid kit, extra water or a filter, a tarp for shelter, knife, metal container, cordage, whistle and headlamp.

Appropriate clothing is a must if the weather turns bad.

 

Careful where you anchor.

For saltwater fishing in the dark, obviously don’t anchor in shipping lanes.

I know the drop offs of the deep water can be good fishing spots, but they can be dangerous as a big cargo ship won’t see you and can’t stop any way.

Do the common sense thing and avoid shipping lanes, or busy water ways.

 

Skip the beer.

Avoid the alcohol, boats, water and fishing don’t mix. Not only for common sense safety, but your fishing will suck as well and you will end up feeling drowsier as well.

 

Light the boat up.

For boat fishing in the dark, make sure you have bow, stern, port and starboard safety lights are on and working.

(I always had trouble remembering port and starboard, which side was which. A good saying to help you is, “A little bit of port left in the bottle.” Port, the alcoholic drink is red. The port side light is red. Also the saying, “left in the bottle.” The word left also refers to the port side is on your left side.)

Have a strong flashlight handy as well, in case any boats are oblivious to you.

For fishing kayaks, it might be worth getting some additional lights and a tall kayak safety flag.

Mount the lights as high as you can get them, as a kayak rides very low in the water, and some big swells will completely hide you from other vessels.

I also put reflective tape on my paddles, and pieces on the side of my fishing kayak. (The silver tape actually looks good and looks like it is part of the kayak design.) For some more kayak safety tips visit – Kayak Fishing Safety Gear. 26 Essential Items and Tips.

A safety whistle hanging off you PFD is also a good idea and have a waterproof torch.

 

Boating safety equipment.

Check you flares and fire extinguisher are in date.

If you have marine radios, emergency locator beacons, etc., check they are in working order.

Follow the country and state rules and regulations for what boating and safety gear you should have. I would even go above the standards when fishing at night time for extra safety.

 

Rising water levels.

Fishing at night can be safe if you take a few precautions. Such as don’t fish in the dark in rising rivers and waterways.

Don’t try and cross deep or strong current rivers at night time.

 

Have a fishing partner.

Don’t fish by yourself, have a fishing partner.

Tell someone and right it down where exactly you are going and when you will be back. Also include your fishing partner’s details and phone number, in case you aren’t reachable.

 

Rock fishing at night?

Rock fishing at night

Saltwater rock fishing can be very dangerous, and a lot of fisherman drown each year, by getting swept off the rocks.

Areas with big waves and swells should be avoided, especially at night.

If you are tempted to rock fish at night, fish it in the day first to make sure it is a safe area.

If local fisherman are not fishing at that spot, then there might be a safety reason for that?

Check with the local police, Search and Rescue, or Fisheries and Wildlife about safe areas to rock fish from.

Remember it might be safe most of the time, but it only takes one big wave to get washed in. Also scrambling around on big rocks, you might twist an ankle or fall.

Wear a PFD, fish with friends, have safety gear and keep an eye on conditions. Do your homework, there might be safer fishing spots with calmer conditions close by.

 

Drive safely.

One of the most dangerous parts of the fishing trip is the drive to and back from the fishing spot. Especially if you are tired and have a long way to drive.

So, if you do decide to fish to the wee hours of the morning and have a long drive home then plan the trip. You might have a nap, before you start driving home.

Most of the time I have a sleeping bag and sleeping mat, in the car for an emergency. It is handy though, when I have fished all night and decide to get some sleep in the car, before driving home.

Check your local rules and regulations about sleeping in the car, or camping near boat ramp carparks, etc.

 

Conclusion – Night Fishing.

Fishing at night time has many advantages.

Like a lot of fish are more active and feel more secure from the predators like birds. Also they might feed more and come into the shallows searching for food.

So it is a great way to fish, but you do have to follow some safety guidelines and have appropriate gear.

Good luck and we hope you enjoyed the article on night fishing and how to fish at night. We hope you catch the big one.