Is Fishing at Night Better or Worse?

Thinking to go out fishing at night and then wondering if it would be a good idea?

If you ask this question to normal people, they’d think you are crazy and bonkers. Well, that’s because they are not anglers. Veteran anglers will probably start pitching out various tips and tricks to get the best out of your venture out on lake placid in the dark. One of those things are magnificent views which you will encounter. See for yourself:

Preparing for night fishing
Lake and sky view while fishing
City dawn sky sunset
Beautifull night view
It’s so peaceful while fishing at night

First things first. Is fishing at night legal? Can you fish in the dark? Is Fishing at Night Better?

Fishing itself is not illegal in most areas. But the kind of fishing makes all the difference. There are some lakes where fishing is prohibited at all costs. There are other lakes where fishing is allowed, but only during certain times during the day. So that would make fishing at night illegal there. Furthermore, there are different rules for fishing in different states.

So, taking a look at the government websites for those states and counties should be a priority if you decide to have a bit of fun on the water. Google is your friend in these matters, and a quick search will land the required information at your fingertips.

Can you fish at night?

preparing for night fishingYes, where it is legal to do so, and if you have the skill for it. You need to have the right accessories with you though, including the right boat, the right type of fishing rod as well as the right lures. We will take a look at all of them below.

You need to know how to attract fish at night. Contrary to many misconceptions and myths, fishing at night is completely normal. How else do you think our ancient forefathers survived bouts of hunger at night in their primitive villages near river banks?

However, it might prove a bit difficult for absolute beginners and some amateurs. Why? Here’s why:

  • It’s dark at night – obvious isn’t it? Unless you have a cat eye potion or night vision goggles, it is really difficult to see what you are doing. Simple tasks like creating baits suddenly become a lot harder and time-consuming. You’d be lucky enough to see where you are throwing the fish bait in the water.
  • Navigation is difficult – Correct. Even with a GPS, it is very hard to see where your boat is headed. God save you if you get stuck in weed or rocks in shallow waters.
  • It’s a ‘buggy’ experience – You dangle kerosene lamps or headlamps on your boat to attract fish and combat the darkness. But fish aren’t the only thing attracted to your lights. There are flies, mosquitos, beetles, moths, skeeters and whatnots which will also clamor for the light and quickly become ‘buzzkill’.

But it’s not all that bad. Darkness also brings out the best in you. You can hone your skills in the dark. And some of the tricks which you pick up at night can also help you during the day. Besides, there are few night fishing advantages:

  • It’s cool – Yea it’s cool. Not for bragging, it’s not that type of cool. The weather is cool. It is very comfortable than during the day if you do not mind that gnat trying to find its way up your nose. Or the host of mayflies around your head making you look like a hobo.
  • It’s peaceful – with a lot fewer boats around trying to compete with you. Or those annoying jet fleas (skis) ruining your perfectly lined bait and splashing your face with a dash of water.
  • It’s usually less windy – If you are trying to catch fish in still waters, then you don’t have to deal with the breeze disturbing the water too much. There may be a gust or two, but not enough to cause any problems.

Is Fishing at Night Better?

So, it’s okay to venture out at night and have some fun fishing. But how do you do that? You need lights, true. But do you need any other specialized equipment? Where do you install those lights? Which boat do you use? How should that boat be customized?

All the questions can befuddle you and cause dismay. Worry not, there are some tips which can help you ‘navigate the fishy waters in dark’.

Variety of fishing rods
Fishing rod store
Fishing rods

While everything is important, without a fishing rod, fishing could just get a whole lot difficult.

What is a Spinning Rod?

If you are going fishing, you would need to use a spinning rod, which is actually a fishing rod used with a spinning reel to get the best results.

  • How Do You Select a Fishing Rod?

How Do You Select a Fishing Rod?The first thing is to look for the versatility and ease while using it.

These are the two primary reasons spinning rods are preferred to bait-casting or trolling reels.

Do we want a high maintenance product? The one that needs over lubrication, that gets clogged when exposed to water, dust and sand. Of course, not.

If you are looking for a pleasant fishing experience, combined with cost-effectiveness and smooth performance wise, you need one that:

– Is comfortably light

– Offers wider spool to reduce line twist and increase casting distance

– Is durable, and a high quality

– Ideal for beginners, intermediates and experts

– Ideal for all types of fishing

We will take a look below as to how you can find the best spinning rod?

Step 1 – Decide on the Type of Fishing Rod Right for You

Decide on the Type of Fishing Rod Right for YouYou need a flipping rod if you are going fishing on freshwater. Do remember though that these rods will not work as great with crankbaits as it affects the accuracy. If you are going to use one with crankbaits, we suggest going in for a spinning rod as it offers the right power and length. That makes the cast stronger and gives you more control over the rod. However, you would need to do all these on a pontoon boat, as we will discuss in the section below.

Step 2 – Choose Whether You Need a Light or a Heavy Rod

Choose Whether You Need a Light or a Heavy RodCheck how much pressure you have to apply to bend the rod. You could see the rating for the product, on a scale of 1 to 5, to know which is the easiest. The heavier the rod will be, the better will it be for fishing but, the more control would you need. Light rods are great to fish only in shallow water and if you are looking to capture smaller fish.

Step 3 – Checking the Flexes

Checking the FlexesIt is what would tell you how much the rod would bend. Check the speed variation to know when the rod will stop bending – an ultra-fast one, for instance, can only bend as much as 3-4 inches before it stops. The flexibility will determine whether you can catch light or heavy fish.

Step 4– Check the Length

Check the LengthAgain, fishing rods can come in different lengths. The longer the length, the stabler the cast. You are also bound to get a better swing on it and can help you maneuver easily when you catch a fish.

Step 5 – The Type of Bait System It Uses

The Type of Bait System It UsesYou have two choices here – using crank baits and spinner baits. Choose one according to the area you are fishing in. Crank baits work better in shallow areas and only has a treble hook to just about go inside the mouth of the fish. Heavy hooks, on the other hand, make for an easier fishing experience.

There are also a few other things to look at, like the grip you need and whether the fishing rod fits you perfectly. EVA foam and cork are the two materials normally used to make fishing rod grips. The material of the rod plays a part too – you would want either graphite or fiberglass here. Ones made with graphite are lighter but it is fiberglass that offers more durability.

You might also want to check the line guides, and whether they are durable. It’s what helps you detect the strikes and transfer it to the fishing line through the rod blank.

Adapting to the dark

Pontoons, also called ‘toons, are boats specialized for fishing. During the day, you can operate your ‘toon properly because there’s plenty of light for you to see around. You do not need any special equipment for your ‘toon besides fishing tools, rods, and placeholders.

But when you are out at night, you need to carry sources of light to be able to see better. Even if there’s moonlight, it is usually not enough. Light sources attached to your boat on the stern and the bow will help you navigate better.

You also need to know how to attract fish at night if you are ever hoping to catch one. Drifting aimlessly and depending on luck is not going to get you any further. You need concentrated sources of light near the water. This is very important because it is the way fishing works. And for that, you would need to know the lures to use at night too.

Fishing Pontoon
Fishing Pontoon with blue light at night
blue leds
Fishing Pontoon at night with blue light
Fishing Pontoon at night

Some microscopic algae and phytoplankton which are photosynthetic (like plants) are attracted to light. But unlike plants, they can move and be affected by water currents and wind. So, there are concentrations of these algae in areas with light.

Some zooplankton and the ‘bait’ fish, which are like herbivorous animals, feed on these microscopic planktons. A high concentration of these algae ensures a high concentration of these ‘bait’ fish. Why are they called bait fish? This is because they act as bait for the larger, carnivorous fish which you are after!

  • Where do you find these light sources?

If you are near a pier or a dock, the lights over there are enough to lure in smaller fish and some predators. But many argue that this is only possible in salty waters.

Why do you need a headlamp?If you are nowhere near those areas, then you need to equip yourselves with a number of accessories. At the very least, you need a headlamp. Why do you need a headlamp? This is because you can’t hold a torch in one hand and operate a fishing rod in another unless you want to test your dexterity.

Having a flame torch attached to the bow also works, but some people consider that as a primitive way of angling. They recommend gas or kerosene lanterns instead. If you have some extra cash or prefer cleaner lights instead, you can use electric lanterns which can be suspended very close to the water. Styrofoam enclosed vehicle headlights also work, but water and electricity don’t mix well. Disastrous effects are guaranteed.

If you are doing really well or are tech-savvy, you can opt to modify your ‘toon with some fancy underwater LEDs. A number of companies have introduced numerous options in the market to jazz up your pontoon:

  1. Underwater LEDs – Companies like OceanLED, Lumitech and Attwood sell various small LED fixtures which emit the correct wavelength of light to attract fish in the dark. These fixtures can be easily attached to the brackets holding pumps and fish-finder transducers for maximum effect.
  2. Deck-Kits – Some manufacturers offer after-market LEDs which fit on the trim-tabs of deck boats. It’s not exactly neon and you ain’t drag racing fast and furious. But it gets the job of attracting the fish done very nicely. But they require fittings on the transom, which requires some drilling. And drilling holes below the waterline needs to be careful and have proper sealing afterwards. If there is wiring or other fragile material on the inner side of the transom, you may be in for more trouble than you’d think.
  3. Pontoons with pre-fit LEDs – Some boat models like those from Sylvan offer underwater LEDs as optional accessories which can be pre-fit before delivering that ‘toon to your house. This is a great option if you are new and need to buy a new boat. Who knows when you’ll decide to fish at night?

Which color do you use? Good question! It has been observed that blue, blue-white and power green are the most effective colors for underwater LEDs. Their wavelengths have greater energies which allow them to travel longer distances beneath the water, as compared to weaker sources like a pure white light.

power green fishing led
blue-white fishing leds
blue boat led
blue-white fishing led
power green fishing leds

Another important thing to remember is that blue lights do not work particularly well in fresh water as they do in salt water. You use green in fresh water for attracting baitfish in particular.

Lures to use at night

Lures come in different shapes and sizes, just like the fish they are meant for. For example, a Zman SwimmerZ” lure works best for flatheads according to Cameron Cronin, who has had quite a lot of experience in setting out at night. He also suggests TT Lures Switchblade, the 4” StreakZ Curly TailZ, 3” MinnowZ and 3” Scented ShrimpZ by Zman for flatheads.

His experience with Estuary Perch was a little different. He recommends the Zman 2.5” GrubZ or 3” Scented ShrimpZ for shallow waters, near pylons. For deeper waters, he suggests using TT Ghostblade and Switchblade.

For heavy fish like the mulloway, his favorite is the TT Lures HeadlockZ HD used as a jighead, with either the Zman 4” SwimmerZ or the 5” Grass KickerZ.

You can find more information about fishing in general and lures at his website.

Some additional tips when you fish in the dark:

Consider some safety instructions while you are operating in the dark. It is very easy to lose balance and fall overboard at night than in the day. For example, if you’ve caught your prize on a lure with a lot of hooks, you might have to fiddle a bit to unhook that thing. If you start to wander while at it, or if your boat bumps into something, you’ll fall off in the water. Not only will you get wet, but you’ll scare all the fish away too. Don’t want that to happen now, do we?

Think Safety FirstIn keeping with the spirit of safety, be sure to keep your deck free of any objects which may get underfoot. Things like hooked lures might cause a particularly painful experience. So will those beer cans lying on the floor.

Talking about safety, you also need to be cautious of any approaching motorboats your way. With a high-intensity flashlight, you can signal them to steer away. When you are moving on power, make sure to have your stern and bow lights turned on to warn others of your presence.

Also, it is a good idea to take someone with you, who is as interested in fishing as you are. Fishing alone in the dark can be incredibly brave, but incredibly stupid as well. Unless you know for sure that there are other fishing enthusiasts around, it is not a good idea to be venturing out on your own. God forbid, if something unfortunate were to happen, who are you going to ask for help? The fish? Good luck with that, Aquaman…

The other important factor is stealth. Some fish are incredibly sensitive to water currents and noise. The noise scares away fish very quickly and can reduce your chances of landing in a good spot considerably.Approach the fishing area quietly

You have to approach the fishing area quietly by drifting in the water in silence for the magic to work. Switch that motor of your pontoon off. Once you’ve reached the spot, staying in place and concentrating on lures, baits and tackle as the only activities will help tremendously. Avoid moving around unnecessarily or doing things like dropping the anchor, moving things around or otherwise anything that would cause this noise.

Why can’t I fish during early in the morning, in the afternoon or in the evening?

There’s no specific rule by which you have to decide on a particular time of the day to go fishing. But you have to know which fish are active during those times and plan accordingly.

There are different fish which appear at different times of the day. This is a fact due to the biological characteristics of fish. Since they are cold-blooded animals, their body temperature is sensitive to the temperature of the water. So they can not tolerate extreme temperatures, which might even be normal by human standards.

Not just the time of day, but seasons make a huge difference too. The temperature of the water differs wildly with seasonal changes. Naturally, it alters the habitat, and the fish adapt accordingly by changing their feeding habits.

Fishing in the dark can be a very fun and even exciting way to pass your time if you are a night owl. You just need to be aware of things like how to attract fish at night and what kind of lures to use at night.

Is fishing at night better for you or you’d rather go out fishing during the early morning or midday is purely your choice.

Get your lures, tackles and baits ready, start those engines and off you go!