The Nocturnal Angler's Guide to Night Fishing


Heading out to open waters in the daylight is one thing, but night fishing requires a little more knowledge and skill to reel in success. 

If you’re planning to fish after dark, it’s worth putting in the extra effort to ensure a bountiful adventure. Overlooking the key tips below can cost you your safety, time and fishing gear. 

With these night fishing tips, strategies and essentials, you can attract your moonlight bite like a pro. 

Quick Takeaways 

- Night fishing has been a popular outdoor activity since native Hawaiians first began angling at night nearly 800 years ago
- You’re more likely to catch big fish after dark due to colder water temperatures and less boat traffic
- Night fishing raises more danger risks and challenges, so it’s especially important to be prepared and plan ahead 

Learning how to properly prepare for your fishing trip can ensure your safety and success while you enjoy your time on the water! 

What is Night Fishing? 

Fishing is one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in the United States. In fact, approximately 55 million Americans engaged in freshwater, saltwater and fly fishing activities in 2020. But how does fishing in daylight differ from night fishing?

Night fishing is exactly what it sounds like – fishing after sundown. Fishing at night has been a popular outdoor activity since native Hawaiians first engaged in nocturnal angling about 800 years ago

Many people enjoy fishing at night because of the cooler temperatures, peaceful atmosphere and bigger catch. Although, these aren’t the only benefits of heading out to open water after dark.

Why Fish At Night? 

You may already know that night fishing is notorious for more success than day fishing, but it’s important to understand why. 

The Shallows 

As the sun drops, so does the water temperature. Cool waters are the primary driver that pulls fish into shallow water. In addition, predator fish have a more difficult time seeing at night, which means smaller fish are more comfortable roaming for food.

Fish Feel Undercover 

The darkness at night gives fish a sense of security because it’s more difficult to see. Because of this, it’s common to see large deep water fish swim into the shallows.

Regardless of the species you’re fishing for, you are more likely to catch bigger fish by night fishing.

Less Boat Traffic 

It’s much more likely to see recreational boaters and fishermen putting heavy pressure on the water during the day than it is at night. The fish can sense traffic and try to keep themselves safe by hanging out deeper into the water. 

At night, there’s a good chance your boat will be the only one on the water, ultimately making the fish comfortable to explore. 

What You Need To Know

Fishing at night comes with its risks and challenges, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. The key to a successful night fishing trip is knowing what you’re getting yourself into. Here’s our best tips for hitting the lake after dark!

Safety First 

Before you head out, pack some water and snacks. You never know when you might run out of energy or get stranded longer than expected. Bringing along a fully charged phone and radio is a good idea too. 

Also, make sure you tell someone where you’ll be. It may sound rudimentary, but you shouldn’t go out on the water alone without telling anyone, especially at night. 

This way, you can have peace of mind knowing that someone can come looking for you if something unexpected were to happen. 

Be Prepared

Even with a great headlamp, setting up your gear after sundown can present its own set of risks and challenges. 

We recommend arriving early, rigging up your rods and organizing your tackle before you lose daylight to avoid fumbling around in the dark and running into trouble.

Look For Light 

Bait fish flock to lights which likely means your target fish isn’t far behind. Areas with dock lights, pier lights and bridge lights can be a great spot to drop your anchor. An added plus is that these lights will also help guide your way.

In addition, it doesn’t hurt to bring your own underwater light. The most attractive underwater light is green in color and falls into the 500-530 nanometer (nm) range.

Underwater fishing green light
Image Source:

This is why green LED fishing lights are among the most popular. A fish attracting underwater night light can vastly improve your catch. 

Timing is Key

It’s a good idea to arrive at your fishing spot early, before it gets dark, to scope out the scene and avoid any unpleasant surprises. Once you decide exactly where you want to fish, pay close attention to the surroundings and avoid any: 

- Power lines
- Low hanging trees
- Stumps
- Rocks
- Dams
- Excessive weeds 

Also, keep in mind that fishing at night is most successful between 8:00pm and 3:00am. Dusk is known as one of the best times to fish, so it will only help to map out your path while you wait for dark.

Lastly, check the weather before you finalize your plan. Clear and calm nights are best for smooth sailing, as opposed to excess wind or rough waters. 

What You Need To Bring

Now that you know how to stay safe while navigating, it’s important that you start collecting the essential gear listed below in addition to your fishing supplies.

Rechargeable Headlamp

Having at least one hands-free light source is non-negotiable when it comes to being on the water after dark.

Fenix HM50R V2.0

One of our favorites is the HM50R V2.0 This ultra-lightweight headlamp is perfect for any hands-free activity that needs a lot of light. Not to mention, you can also easily detach this unit from its mount and use it as a hand-held light!

With this rechargeable headlamp, you’ll have access to 700 lumens and visibility up to 377 feet. Fenix's HM50R V2 is ideal for after-dark tasks like tying knots and baiting hooks. 

Torch and Batteries

In addition to your headlamp, you’ll need one or two flashlights as a backup light source. Torches also provide mobility that headlamps do not, which can come in handy when you need direct light in or around your boat.

Don’t forget to pack an extra set of batteries in case your primary torch runs out of power! 

Fenix PD36 TAC

Fenix’s PD36 TAC is compact in size yet equipped with 3000 lumens of light. This unit’s aluminum alloy body provides an extremely tough yet lightweight exterior, perfect for your night fishing expedition.

Insect Repellent 

Fishing at night means trading sunburn for bugbites. Nothing ruins a fishing trip like being eaten alive by mosquitos!

Bug spray is a must, especially if you’re fishing in marshy or freshwaters. Look for something that is at least 30% DEET for the best protection. [affiliate link]

Weather Appropriate Clothing

Remember that temperatures drop at night, which means your night time excursion will be colder than your typical daytime trip. Be sure to check the forecast and bring along a waterproof gear and backup change of clothes.

First Aid Kit

As you may know, it’s easy to cut yourself on hooks, lines and other fishing gear, easpecially when you don’t have natural light to aid you. A first aid kit is a must on any fishing trip and even more so when you’re on the water after dark. 

High-visibility Life Jacket 

When you’re fishing from a boat at night, a high-visibility life jacket is essential. This way, you can stay safe by making your presence known to other people who may be around. [affiliate link]

Start Your Next Adventure

Night fishing can be an exciting way to switch up your routine and result in reeling in a bigger catch than fishing in broad daylight.

Now that you have all the tips and tricks to stay safe on your night fishing trip, you’re ready for some angler action.

Visit today for more ways to have a successful outdoor adventure!

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