Making the Most of Fishing in the Dark

Published in the August 2008 Issue Published online: Aug 26, 2008 Shanna McCord - Santa Cruz Sentinel
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If you've been fishing in the dark before, you're likely a fan. In fact, you've probably drunk the Kool-Aid and know all the ins and outs. If not, you might be wondering why in the world anyone would want to add the challenge of darkness to a good day of fishing. Well, to paraphrase, A bad day of fishing always beats a good day at work might need a little editing. How about this? A bad night of fishing beats a good day at work or a bad day of fishing. Draw your own conclusions, but you're about to find out why it is so much fun to go night fishing and how to do it right.

One common tip is that another use has been found for those funky little glow sticks that you buy the kids for trick or treating. Hook one on your line just above the bait, and instant attraction for the fish. The kids can't leave them alone until they burn out, how could a fish resist? No worries about them figuring out that you're taking advantage of their curiosity for brightness.

In considering this concept a little further, it seems that luring catfish in after dark is a pretty popular activity. Some people just set a lantern on the dock. In fact, you can put a bell on your line and head for the boat until it rings even. There are many ways you can enjoy fishing in the dark.

Here are a few notes from a seasoned angler, Kevin Everett of Anglers Northwest. "Fishing into and through the night can be your best option between a successful, or an uneventful outing," says Everett. "The fish are less stressed by the day's heat and common `high recreational activities' of the day."

So to get started, make sure your tackle box is organized and you have everything you need. It's not as much fun to have to try to find what you need in a messy tackle box after dark. That's one way hooks end up in fingers. You might even have some pre-made tackle rigging ready to go so you can just attach it to your line or fly leaders.

Consider the weather. Check the local forecast for the area you will fish. Make sure your bait, tackle and clothing are chosen appropriately. Don't forget the rain gear and extra clothing if it looks to be wet out.

Also, bugs like to live where you fish, especially if you're lighting your fishing area to attract the fish, so be prepared. Insect repellant is recommended to keep them at bay and a must-have for your tackle box.

If you're planning on keeping the fish you catch, make sure you have a cooler stocked with ice to keep them cold. It's hard to enjoy the aroma of a fish that has spoiled on the way home or during the night.

Keep snacks that give you energy and keep you alert and comfortable around. Fruit and trail mixes, as well as jerky, are healthier choices. Also make sure you have plenty of drinking water on hand. That's not to say that you just shouldn't ever opt for a cold one, but you don't want to end up feeling nauseous from too much drinking and spoil your trip.

If you're on the boat at night, be sure the motor and gear are in good working order. Don't let your space get cluttered up. Have "Plan B" ready to get back to the ramp if needed, such as oars or a trolling motor. Take along more fuel than you think you'll need so you don't have to worry about running out.

There are several sources of light you can use to attract the fish. You can also use a rope string style of light on the inside length of the boat. It's not too much light and doesn't impair your eyes' naturally ability to adjust in the dark. Also bring extra batteries for flashlights as another source.

Scent or live bait is a good choice to attract fish. Make sure you're using legal baits, whatever you choose. A scent that is native to the area and has been used successfully is a good idea as well.

"I use spawn bags, crawlers, and heavy, oily shrimp, garlic and anise oil scent that stays on and adheres to your tackle for long periods of time." says Everett.

Fluorescent glow hooks, bobbers or lighted tackle-if legal for the area and fish you're looking to hook-are also a help. Glow sticks were mentioned earlier as well. This way you can not only identify a strike in the dark, but it's very attractive to the fish.

Always let someone know where you're fishing (you don't have to tell the exact hole, as most fishermen won't) and when you plan on returning. In the case of an accident it really could mean life or death to you or your buddies.

Everett also suggests considering the possibility of night-time predators such as coyotes, bears, stray dogs or maybe an occasional moose. You obviously won't want to shoot up the night trying to hit a wild animal, so keep spray repellants like pepper spray on hand for that. Always stay alert no matter when you're fishing, but especially at night to avoid surprises such as these.

You can find more great fishing tips at www.anglersnorthwest.com, and tailor your fishing experience to make the most of fishing in the dark!

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