I don’t know how many nights I have spent outside fishing. It is a truly awesome experience and it’s very relaxing and quiet. The fishing is often at its best when it’s dark. I definitely recommend fishing at night, but you have to do it the right way.
The most important thing is to stay organized. When it is pitch black, you must be able to quickly locate all your fishing equipment. You should be sitting on a chair or remain standing in one spot, have a headlamp and keep all your essentials close to you. In a boat, try to have as little tackle with you as possible!
A night fishing trip can be equal to an absolutely fantastic session, or an absolute disaster. Being well prepared and organized at all times really helps you stay focused and allows you to just enjoy your fishing. Continue reading to see all my tips and hacks on how to successfully fish at night.
How To Prepare for Night Fishing?
It is definitely easier to fish at night in a venue and spot that you have fished before. If you know the surroundings, you will be able to navigate and orient yourself, even if it is dark.
It also improves your chances of catching fish, as you are already familiar with the venue and its various features. This is essential for your success; are there rocks at the bottom? What are the different depths of the venue? Is there vegetation that could be in the way? All these features can be invisible to you at night.
If you are fishing a completely new venue that you have never been to before, make sure you arrive at your fishing spot before it gets dark. This way, you can familiarize yourself with the venue and environment, so that you can easily avoid things to trip over (such as branches, stones or roots).
When it comes to your gear and tackle, bring exactly what you normally would to any other fishing trip. Just scale down on things you might not need; an extra rod, a heavy, chunky carryall bag or lots of small bags and boxes with hooks, sinkers or shots. Those are a definite pain to have to go through in the dark.
In terms of other equipment for night fishing, here is a list of things you should definitely bring:
- a headlamp
- extra clothing (for those chilly hours at night)
- lures in bright and/or glowing colors (if you are spin fishing)
- a glow stick or isotopes (if you are fishing with a bobber/float or a feeder rod)
- a landing net
- something to eat
- a cell phone or camera with night mode and flash (otherwise, you and the fish will literally be invisible on the pictures taken)
- a first aid kit
- a thermos bottle with some nice and warming coffee or tea
How To Fish at Night From Land?
If you are bottom fishing (e.g. for carp or catfish), do not forget to bring a chair. You don’t want to spent hours and hours standing up while fishing at night, as this will make you extra tired.
Attach a glow stick or isotopes to the top of your bottom rod (e.g. feeder rod), so that you can easiliy and clearly see a bite. Alternatively, you can use a fishing bell for sound indication of a bite. These bells are also attached to the top of your rod.
If you are fishing for catfish or carp, you might also use bite alarms, which will indicate a bite both visually (via led lights) and acoustically (via an alarm). I can tell you that a so called midnight “screaming take”, which is the screaming sound a bite alarm makes when a fish has taken your bait and takes a lot of line, is one of life’s most exciting things!
It might also be a good idea to bring a tent or a bivvy, as well as a sleeping bag, if you are planning on staying the entire night and use audible bite indicators.
I actually wrote an in-depth article on fishing tents, which are called bivvies, which you can read here: What Is a Fishing Bivvy? (A Complete Guide)
If you are spin fishing (e.g. for largemouth bass or northern pike), try to remain in one, or only a few spots. Once again, you should avoid walking around in unfamiliar terrain too much. Instead, try to place yourself near a fishing hot spot from the start and attempt to lure the fish that are most likely be waiting there.
When you get a bite, concentrate on the fish’s movements, use your senses. You will have some visibility thanks to your headlamp, but it won’t reach far and you will have to drill in the fish mostly by feeling your way through the battle!
Once you see the fish up close, use your landing net to safely catch it. If you want to take a picture of your catch, try to have the fish lay on the ground, as this is much easier than holding it up and trying to take a selfie with it.
How To Fish at Night From a Boat?
If you are fishing from a boat, you will most likely be fishing for predators and using lures. As it is dark all around you, you won’t be able to take the boat to a bunch of different spots. Try to aim for areas just off the banks, in bays or near small islands or other features, so that you can always orient yourself on something.
You should aim at bringing as little tackle as possible with you. Fishing from a smaller boat during daytime can already be a challenge, but at night, anything can get in your way and you can either quickly loose balance, and actually fall overboard, or trip over and break that expensive new rod you just bought!
Also, landing a fish at night is slightly more tricky in a boat. Here, it is extra crucial to have a landing net with you. What you don’t want to do is to bend over in order to see or hand land your bass or pike at night, as you, once again, could end up in the water really fast.
Instead, land it nicely and safely with your net, unhook it, take a nice picture, perhaps quickly weigh and measure it, and then return it into its element again.
Do Fish Bite at Night?
Virtually all fish species are active and feeding at night. A couple of noteworthy examples are perch, northern pike, largemouth bass and carp. Especially during summer, when the days are hot, cooler nights can be a golden opportunity to get a good fishing session going.
If you are fishing for tench, make sure to also read this article I wrote on how to catch them at night: Tench Fishing at Night: Best Baits And Methods
In the summer, as the warmer water is less oxygenated, the fish are rather inactive during daytime. At night, when the temperature drops in both air and water, they can suddenly turn a switch and start to feed excessively. That’s when you should be there to catch them!
Insider tip: Night fish also during spring and fall!
Do not disregard the colder seasons! Fish can be very active at night even during spring and fall! I have caught perch and pike in the middle of a rather chilly march night, and there was a lot of activity going around! As a bonus, you will most likely have the whole venue to yourself, as no one else will be out fishing at night, that time of year.
Make sure to also check out this article I wrote on spring night fishing for perch: Perch Fishing at Night (Best Baits And Methods)
Whenever you are planning on going fishing at night, just make sure to prepare your trip very well. If you do that, you will certainly be able to enjoy the marvelous calmness and relaxation of a night fishing session. Allow yourself to become a part of the all-engulfing darkness around you and befriend it, be not afraid of it.
It takes some getting used to in the beginning, but I can guarantee you that you will be coming back for more, rather than being asleep at home, in your warm bed. If not for the darkness, then definitely for the awesome fishing you can experience at night! Be sure to try it out!