As summer heat and recreational boat traffic make daylight hours less than hospitable to the serious angler, many turn nocturnal in pursuit of crappie, stripers, catfish and other fish that readily bite after hours. Many also view night-fishing as a traditional summer past-time, spending the night on the water with friends and family sharing time between bites. How you go about night fishing can spell the difference between a successful outing and just losing sleep. Keep these five steps in mind to help insure your success.
1. Lighting – Whether or not you intend to use lights to attract fish to your bait, having proper lighting is critical to night-fishing success. Being able to see to navigate the boat, prepare rigs, unhook fish and fix the inevitable mishap that arises will require the ability to see. If using batteries, make sure they are fresh and charged. Some anglers rely on portable generators, which may be noisy but insure you don’t lack for lighting power.
2. Tackle – When possible, rig rods during the daylight and carry spares. In the event of a malfunction, it’s easier to swap a rod than fix a problem. Rod holders make it much simpler to stay organized and keep lines spaced apart when fishing with multiple rods. Keep repeated-use items like hooks, weights, nets and pliers within easy reach so you can find them in the dark.
3. Organize – Most night-fishing occurs from a stationary position. Arrange anglers things so each has space to move, be comfortable and tend to rods without having to step over or around obstructions. Clear pathways so each angler can freely move about the boat without tripping over items.
4. Anchoring – Whether using an anchor or tying off to fixed objects like trees or bridge pilings, make sure your anchor points are secure. Keep anchor lines clear in the event weather, conditions or simply moving to another spot makes it necessary to move.
5. Location – Regardless of your quarry, fishing at night typically involves intercepting fish as they move from deep water to shallow in search of food. Target areas that provide a variety of depths in close proximity. Other considerations to keep in mind are structure, current, thermoclines and the presence of baitfish.