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Perch Fishing at Night (Best Baits And Methods)

Perch Fishing at Night (Best Baits And Methods)

Most anglers only fish for perch during the daytime and avoid fishing for them in the dark. I have too, for many years, until I tried during one late evening session.

And so I decided to write an article on the topic of perch fishing at night and whether or not it’s actually worth pursuing.

Fishing for perch at night can yield very good results. The best lures for night perch fishing are smaller, brightly colored softbaits, while the best natural baits include prawns and maggots. Spin fishing and ledgering are the superior methods for nighttime perch.

If you want to know the best methods and tactics for nighttime perch fishing, continue reading this article.

Do Perch Bite at Night?

Despite many anglers not fishing for them at night, both Euro perch and yellow perch can actually be rather active in the dark. A scientific study found that the fish’s activity depends mainly on the following 3 factors:

  • water temperature
  • water depth
  • water clarity

In other words, light intensity really seems to only play a minor role when it comes to the perch’s feeding activity, which is something the study’s findings confirm as well.

If the water temperature is very low, perch tend to seek out deeper water, as it will be somewhat warmer. Naturally, their general activity will decrease during such periods.

But, as soon as water temperatures are only slightly rising, perch tend to feed rather actively both during day- and nighttime. During the warmer months, they instead seek somewhat cooler temperatures, which can be found mostly during nighttime.

Hence, it is the third factor, water clarity, that seems to play the most important role. As perch are visually oriented hunters, they need a certain level of water clarity in order to find their prey.

So, given that the water is relatively clear and temperatures are rising slightly, perch do hunt and feed in the dark as well. And hence, you can fish for them successfully even at night!

Best Time of Year for Perch Fishing at Night

a big perch getting released back into the water during a night fishing trip
A night perch getting released back into its element

The absolutely best time of year for nighttime perch fishing is between early spring and summer. I have tested all the seasons rather substantially, but have only observed major biting activity between March and June.

This probably goes hand in hand with the perch’s elevated post-winter and pre-spawning activity, as well as the generally lower daytime activity during high summer.

All the important factors are present and hence, night fishing for perch during this period can be very rewarding.

In spring, when the sun is slowly warming up the water during the day, the fish become even more active, and hence, they have to start feeding much more. They also need to build up their energy resources for the upcoming spawning seasons.

Then during early summer, when the days are much warmer and fishing is slow in bright daylight, the predators come to life first when the last light hits and then hunt and feed mostly during the night.

During that time of year, algae growth is still somewhat limited and hence, the water is still clear enough for perch to hunt in the dark.

All in all, spring and summer are perfect seasons for nighttime fishing for perch and you should definitely give it a try!

Now, let’s move on to some practical tips for nighttime perch fishing.

Best Methods for Perch Fishing at Night

Both spin fishing and ledgering are fishing methods that are well suited for perch fishing at night. Personally, I prefer the more active spin fishing, as it tends to keep you awake longer and night perch takes on a light spinning rod are hard to beat. You can check out my favorite spinning rod for perch on Amazon here.

Spin Fishing

Many anglers may not consider this to be one of the best choices when it comes to night fishing for perch, but spin fishing with lures is actually highly effective in the dark.

However, there are two tricks you have to know about in order to be successful:

  1. Always make sure you know where you are casting. Study the fishing spots you want to fish before nightfall and try to remember every bush, tree, and snag. If you know your swim and where you are going to cast your lure, you can avoid losing your baits in the darkness. If you are unsure, use your head torch to quickly scan your surroundings.
  2. Use lures that you can retrieve extremely slowly. Stop-and-go fishing is what will bring you those big night perch! Obviously then, light lures, such as small inline spinners and softbaits would be your first choice.

Pro Tip: Always have a spinning and a ledgering set-up with you in order to get the most out of your nighttime perch fishing experience!

Ledgering (Bottom Fishing)

Ledgering, or fishing on the bottom, for perch at night is a more passive way of catching them. But it can be as effective as spin fishing. Especially if the perch are not so keen to take your lures, presenting a bottom bait can do the trick instead.

You can either use a paternoster or a running rig for nighttime perch, both have produced a lot of bites for me over the years. You can find out more about these two highly effective perch rigs in this related article.

But there are a few hacks that you should know about when it comes to ledgering as well:

  1. Live or dead baitfish have proven to be a bad choice when it comes to night perch.
  2. Instead, use smaller baits that either smell intensely and/or move.
  3. If you do not get any bites at first, try reeling in your bottom rig a few feet rather abruptly. This can often produce a sudden bite.

Best Baits for Perch at Night

a happy angler holding a big perch that he has caught on a softbait at night
Me with a fat nighttime spring perch

Best Lures

I cannot stress the importance of using bright and glitter-colored softbaits enough! These have produced the most bites for me, by far.

And the best thing is, you do not have to use any expensive lures for this type of fishing. On the contrary, I have had the best results with very cheap single- and twin-tailed twisters.

I know they are old-school and not fancy at all, but they will catch you a ton of night perch, I can guarantee you that!

Here are 3 of my favorite chartreuse/glitter baits for nighttime perch fishing (they come in packs of 10 or 20 and can be found on Amazon):

Best Natural Baits

When ledgering, it is wise to use bright and visible natural baits for night perch. As they will naturally move less and remain in one place on the bottom, they will need to attract the perch with their coloration and/or scent.

Consequently, I suggest using the following natural baits:

White Maggots

Their color is their biggest advantage, but white maggots also attract nighttime perch with their constant movement on the bottom. By far, I have found these to be the best live bait for perch fishing at night.

I usually fish them on the paternoster rig with a 1oz lead and a size 8-10 wide gape hook.

Peeled Whole Prawns/Shrimps

When it comes to dead bait, fresh and peeled prawns, or shrimps, are my number one choice.

Peeling them will reveal their brightly orange or whitish color, which definitely sticks out on a dark lake or river bed.

Additionally, their strong odor has the ability to attract perch in even the darkest of waters.

This type of bait can be fished on both the paternoster and the running rig in combination with a size 4 wide gape hook. I like to use Kordas Wide Gape X hooks, as they are super strong and hook the fish well.

RELATED READING: Make sure to check out this article on the best reels for perch fishing if you want to upgrade your gear for the next season!

Essential Things to Bring When Night Fishing

Now that you know everything about night fishing for perch, I just want to suggest a few important tools that will make your night fishing trip so much easier.

Head Torch

A USB rechargeable headlamp is a solid choice for night anglers. I use one myself and love it! It makes everything well visible in the dark and helps you orient yourself in full darkness.

I especially appreciate the fact that it is rechargeable. Just charge it up at home before you head out or in the car on your way to the venue. It will last you an entire night session. Who needs batteries, right? You can take a closer look at this great head torch on Amazon here.

Drennan Isotopes

2 drennan isotopes on a feeder tip for night fishing

Essential glow sticks that you put on your feeder tip in order to detect tugs and bites at night.

Without these, you will not be able to fish the paternoster rig for night perch.

They will glow forever and won’t lose any of their brightness over time. Get a pair of Drennan Isotopes on Amazon here.


Last but not least, bringing a thermos can be a very good idea when night fishing in March and April. The nights that early in the year can be quite rough, cold and moist.

Standing or sitting for hours on end fishing for night perch can be challenging. Hot tea or coffee can make all the difference when you are out there in the cold and complete darkness.

If you ask me, Stanley produces the best thermos bottles and mugs on the market. They will keep your brew hot for many hours and are easy to transport.

It’s a simple luxury that can make any rough evening or night session much smoother. You can take a closer look at the Stanley Classic Vacuum Thermos on Amazon here.

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Featured image courtesy of Alexander Bjork