Fishing At Night: A Beginner’s Guide

Anglers go to great lengths trying to optimize their time on the water. Many anglers will say the best time to go fishing is at night. But is this really true? In this guide, we will go over everything you need to know about fishing at night.

Once you understand a fish’s physiology, you can better understand where this notion of fishing at night is better. It turns out that there is some science to back this up. So this advice does not smell downright fishy. 

There was a study completed in 1973 by Alan R. Emery that investigated the behaviour changes in fish during the daytime vs nighttime. 

Essentially, certain species of fish will become more active at night to feed. There are a lot of reasons why nighttime induces more feeding activity:

  • Less Noise
  • Cooler Water Temperatures
  • Moon Phases
  • Tide Changes
  • Organisms attracted to moonlight

If you are willing to stay up all night to try to catch that monster fish, then let’s shed some more light on this topic!

What Does Fishing At Night Mean

Most regions will define night fishing as between one (1) hour after sunset and one (1) hour before sunrise.

Check your local fishing regulations for the exact definition in your area.

The exact sunset and sunrise times will change slightly daily and throughout the year. So it is important to keep tabs on what these official times are. Depending on your local regulations and environmental sensitivity, fisheries law enforcement could be cracking down on anglers fishing at night.

Check out for sunset and sunrise times in your local area.

Example: If sunset is at 6:30 pm and Sunrise is at 7:30 am. Then the official nighttime fishing window is between 7:30 pm to 6:30 am

Many regions will have different requirements around fishing at night for a variety of reasons. Some bodies of water are more environmentally sensitive than others and limit human impact on the ecosystem, thus making fishing at night illegal.

You should always check your local fishing regulations for rules and requirements around fishing at night.

Is Fishing At Night Good?

There are a lot of reasons to believe that fishing at night is good. Many anglers swear by it and claim that they have caught some of their biggest fish at night. 

There are several reasons why fishing at night is good:

  • Water Temperatures: Water temperature will be cooler at night than during the day. Cooler water temperatures are generally correlated to more fish activity.
  • Noise: There is generally less activity on or in the water at night. Generally, humans are the worst offender when it comes to noise pollution. Noise in the water affects how fish sense can sense their prey and can make them hide out more often. Fish can perceive noise as a threat. So less activity results in less noise which helps fish be more active.
  • Light: Organisms are more attracted to light during night. Moonlight and artificial light attract small organisms in the water, which attracts smaller fish to feed. These smaller fish will attract larger fish.
  • Moon Phases: Believe it or not, the position of the moon changes how fish behaves slightly. The moon will pull water slightly in different directions depending on its position. This movement helps move bait fish and organisms in the water, which makes the entire ecosystem more lively.
  • Fishing Competition: Fewer anglers in the water create less noise but offer you less competition on the water. Disturbance in the water from casting and other sources generally created by humans is gone, which gives more confidence for fish to hunt for food.

Is It Better To Fish At Night Or Day?

No one situation fits all cases when it comes to determining if it is better to fish at night or during the day. 

Fish technically do not sleep like how humans do but they have their own version. Fish will rest by laying on the floor or remind floating in the water. They are aware of their surroundings and are able to detect danger. 

Some fish show more nocturnal characteristics by being more active at night while other fish show more diurnal characteristics by being more active during the day. 

Regardless of the fish species, you can easily find examples of anglers catching absolute monsters during the day or night.

It would not hurt to research the species of fish you are targeting to see what their natural tendencies are during the day vs night. 

Where Can You Fish At Night?

There are some anglers who wonder if you need to change your locations when fishing at night? 

The answer is no. 

You should be going fishing in the same locations you would be going to during the day. 

You can fish in freshwater lakes and streams at night. Fishing along the shore of a lake or stream is perfectly normal. If there is a dock on the lake, then you can fish off the pier assuming it’s open to the public. 

The same thing goes with saltwater fishing at night. Fishing along the shoreline or dock is typically allowed assuming it’s open to the public. 

If you have a boat and want to do some night fishing, then you are typically allowed to do it. If you decide to go fishing on a boat at night, you should pay close attention to water safety. You should have the correct lighting and horns to notify potential boaters of your location.

How Do You Fish At Night?

Actually, your fishing techniques will not change that much when fishing during the day. Here are some things to keep in mind when fishing at night:

1 – Keep Moving The Bait

Fish rely on sight and vibrations in the water to detect their prey and danger. However, their senses are somewhat dampened out by excessive noises in the water during the day.

At night there is less noise allowing fish to sense movement in the water better. Make sure to keep that bait moving in the water, whether it’s jigging or casting and retrieving, to help fish sense it.

2 – Take Advantage of Lighting

You are going to need light to be able to see around you. But unfortunately, light can attract a lot of unwanted critters and bugs too. But there are organisms in the water that are lightly attracted to light. 

Some colours of light will attract organisms and fish more than others. Different species of fish will react slightly differently depending on the colours of the light used. 

Investigate which colour light might work best for you. But there is nothing wrong with using a normal light at the end of the day.

3 – Bait Colours

Using the right colours for your bait could help you get your bait noticed in the water. When it comes to picking out the right colours for your bait, it might seem pretty simple to pick the brightest colour. 

However, the colour you see is directly related to the amount of light exposure it sees. Every colour has a light wavelength which makes it visual. If there is not enough light, then the colour will appear dark instead. 

Simply picking the brightest colour bait may not always be the best case. Sometimes the slightly darkest colour lures might be the best choice if you want fish to see your lures at night.

Is Fishing At Night Dangerous?

It should go without saying that fishing at night prevents its own dangers but if you are properly prepared it is perfectly safe to do. 

Here are some tips to keep in mind that will keep you safe while fishing at night:

1 – Be Familiar With The Area

It’s harder to see and know your surroundings at night. For this reason, if you plan to fish somewhere at night you should get familiar with the area beforehand. 

Become familiar with the area so you know where you should go in case of emergency or plot a safe path how you will get to your fishing location while its still daylight. 

You don’t want to be wondering around in an area you are not familiar with while you can see as good.

2 – Bring Proper Wildlife Protection

Wildlife can be more active at night as well. If you are by yourself fishing at night you might find some wildlife being curious about you. 

Depending on what sort of wildlife you have to be concerned with you will need to make sure you are properly protected. 

You should check your local wildlife protection department for advise on equipment and gear that will keep you protected for known wildlife in that particular area. 

Always make sure to have this equipment ready to go at all times.

3 – Bring A First Aid Kit 

Accidents happen all the time. If they can happen during the day then they can happen at night just as easily.

For this reason, you should make sure to pack a first aid kit with you. 

Whether you tripped over your tackle or something on the ground and cut yourself or if you accidentally hooked yourself. Having an untreated open wound is no fun and can cause you potential problems down the road if it is left untreated. 

4 – Notify Someone Where You Will Be

Things go bump at the night and there could be a lot of potential things that could go wrong when fishing at night. You should always make sure to let someone know if you plan to go fishing at night. 

You should let them where you will be and give them a copy of your location on a map and path on how you plan to get there. Let them know when you will be heading out and when you should be exacted back. 

Doing this will give as much information to that person to give to the recuse team if you end up going missing or end up injured. 

5 – Bring A Phone Charger

Nowadays, we can’t seem to live without our phones. So for your own benefit, you should take a portable phone charger with you in case your phone dies while you are out. 

Not only does having a fully charged phone always you to play a game while you wait for your bite to come but it makes sure you are able to call for help if anything were to happen. 

6 – Bring the appropriate clothing

Weather conditions can change quickly on you and the temperature can drop quickly. Being cold is no fun when you are fishing. If you want to make sure you are comfortable and warm while fishing, make sure to pack the appropriate clothes and gear with you.

7 – Pack Light

If you pack to much gear with you it will be hard to move around safely. There is definitely an art with packing light. 

You want to make sure you investigate in a good backpack that will allow you to pack as much as you can. 

Only pack the essentials!

8 – Check The Weather Forecast

Always check your local weather forecast to make sure you know what to expect when you are out fishing. 

Whether its rainy, windy, or temperature swings they all would require different gear and will change how you make for your trip.  

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