Most anglers know that dawn and dusk are the best times for wetting a line in the water. But many fishermen like to be on the water well after the sun goes down.
But can you go fishing at night? Yes, people can go fishing at night. In most cases, the fish species caught during the day can also be caught at night. However, some fish species, like catfish, snapper, bass, walleye, and crappie, are more active in low-light conditions and are easily caught at night.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about night fishing. This article will tell you the best time for night fishing and what fish species you can catch at night.
What Time Is Best for Night Fishing?
The best time for night fishing is between 8:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. Windless nights with clear skies and calm waters are the best for night fishing, so plan your fishing trip accordingly.
Fishing on windy nights with overcast skies and choppy waters is unlikely to be productive because most fish aren’t interested in feeding in these conditions. On the other hand, fish are likely to become active in clear and calm waters once the sun has completely set.
Tips for Fishing at Night
Fishing at night is entirely different from fishing during the day. If you’re planning a nighttime outing to a nearby lake or river, you’ll need to adjust your fishing strategy for success.
Here are several night fishing tips that’ll ensure you won’t go home empty-handed:
Make the Most out of Light
Although night fishing lights can attract many insects and bugs, they can also help you attract and catch more fish.
Casting a light on the water will attract phototrophs to the surface. Once phototrophs are there, small minnows will come after them in pursuit of an easy meal. And once minnows are there, the predatory fish will follow suit.
Using light to your advantage is a great way to increase your odds of catching fish at night. A lamp or anything similar at the lake you’re fishing or moonlight can also attract fish, so use anything that’s available in your favor.
Move the Bait
Because there is no light, fish use their sonar senses to move and can detect even the slightest movements during the night. To take advantage of this, use spinner bait when fishing at night, but don’t forget to jig or move the bait.
Larger predatory fish don’t see well in the dark, and their sonar senses are weaker than small fish. This allows species like crappie, bluegill, and sunfish to come out of hiding and look for food.
Cast Your Line in Murky Water
Creating a map of your travel path is an excellent idea when fishing at night. When mapping the area you want to fish in, include some muddy and murky waters because this is where most fish are hiding.
Cast jigs and spinners to that area and keep moving them in the murky water. Moving the spinner in murky waters or casting it along a rocky shore is bound to attract fish and land a bite.
Fish with a Sensitive Line and Rod
Because of low light conditions, anglers can’t see the line or rod during the night. Using a highly sensitive fishing rod and line allows anglers to detect and respond faster to small nibbles that would otherwise remain undetected in the dark.
Not seeing the line while fishing is an added difficulty for anglers. But an ultrasensitive fishing line can compensate for the lack of sight and help you detect a bite.
Safety Tips for Fishing at Night
Fishing and navigating a boat during the night pose some serious safety risks. Some extra planning and preparation are necessary and can help prevent accidents.
Here are several fishing tips to stay safe while boating at night:
1. Use Navigation Tools
When the sun sets, it’s much harder to judge distance and recognize landmarks. Using a GPS device will help you stay on course, especially on large bodies of water.
2. Wear a Life Jacket
Having a life jacket for everyone on board is the law in most states. Fishing at night comes with added safety risks, so it’s best and safest to wear a life jacket at all times.
3. Slow Down
Avoiding underwater obstacles is much harder in the dark. Sudden changes in water depth, stumps, and floating debris have led to some severe boating accidents.
The best way to avoid boating accidents and severe injury is to slow down and post a fishing buddy in the bow to act as a lookout.
What Fish Can You Fish for at Night?
The best fish species to target at night are walleye, panfish, catfish, striped bass, and bluefish. Their predatory instincts and excellent night vision give them an advantage over most prey fish.
Fishing for walleye at night can be extremely productive because their feeding patterns line up with nighttime hours. Panfish are also popular fish to catch at night because bugs which are their prey, are attracted to artificial lights coming from boats.
Catfish are another popular fish to catch at night. These fish are used to low light conditions because they spend the most time at the bottom.
Most bass species are rarely caught at night, but striped bass is an exception. These fish are more active during the wee hours of the night than during the daytime and don’t like light.
Night fishing can be extremely productive with proper planning and the correct fishing technique. Certain fish species, including walleye, striped bass, catfish, bluefish, and panfish, are more active during nighttime and easier to catch.
The act of fishing at night is entirely different from fishing during the day, and anglers often need to show more skill and finesse to land a fish. With fewer people on the water at night, there’s less pressure on fish and more opportunities for anglers to go home with a catch.