Fishing the night shift makes for a good time

During the summer, most anglers are fully aware that fishing can often be less than productive during the middle of a hot, bright day. For the most part, that’s because the fish themselves tend to be less active during midday in the summertime, not to mention fishing under a blazing summer sun isn’t all that pleasant for a fisherman either.

Therefore, early morning or late evening can be the best times to be on the water this time of year, both in terms of comfort and productivity, but some anglers also find the cover of darkness even more appealing for a summertime fishing trip.

I will freely admit that I am not a big fan of night fishing in general. I’m a very visual person, and most of the things that draw me to fishing are visual, especially the fish themselves and the often beautiful surroundings where they live. Because I practice catch-and-release almost exclusively when it comes to trout, bass and other game fish, my motivation for a fishing trip is rarely to return home with dead fish. I love to see a trout or bass erupt from the water’s surface in a shower of spray. I enjoy taking an extra second or two to savor the beauty of such a great fish as I unhook it and slide it back into the water to fight another day. And on those days when the fishing is slow, I keep my focus by visualizing in my mind’s eye the image of a nice smallmouth lurking beside a sunken rock pile or a big brown trout hiding under an undercut bank, waiting to take my lure on the next cast.

In spite of my visual preferences, I still put in more than a few hours of night fishing each season. Most of my night fishing occurs simply by staying on the water after dark. That is particularly true when it comes to trout fishing. As much as I enjoy catching trout, I find stumbling around a trout stream in the dark to be something more akin to a punishment than desirable recreation. I will often stay on the water well into the darkness, however, if I happen to already be set-up in a nice pool as night sets in and the fish happen to be rising and I’m able to fool a few of them at least occasionally

When it comes to bass, I am a little more inclined to stay on the water for a few more hours of the night shift in hopes of some good topwater action. I’ll typically start throwing some topwater lures right around sunset and continue that strategy well after nightfall. While it’s hard to beat the sight of a bass blasting a surface lure, hearing a nice largemouth engulf a topwater somewhere in the gloom can be a close second.

There is another night-fishing strategy that probably would rate as my favorite of them all. That one entails gathering a good fishing buddy or two, a cooler full of your favorite summer beverage and some comfortable folding chairs to do some bottom fishing for carp or catfish. Whether from shore or in a boat, the approach to this type of night fishing is relaxed, very relaxed. Bait your hook, cast it out, prop your rod in a holder, sit back and let the fish do the work. Storytelling and reminiscing will be mandatory during such an outing, although none of the participants will need to be reminded of that. It will just come naturally. And in between conversations, a few fish are usually landed as well over the course of the evening.

I confess that my approach to night fishing is generally lighthearted, but I have all due respect for fellow fishermen who take fishing under the cover of darkness quite seriously. Outdoor folks in general, and anglers in particular, tend to be an eclectic group that is diverse with a range of specialties.

Many of the nighttime fishing specialists I know consider the dark of the moon the best time to fish at night, especially for bass. I’ll have to take their word for it, not because I have never fished during the dark of the moon. I rarely pay attention to such things because I’ve almost never found such theories that infallible and they often seem like excuses not to go fishing on a particular day – or night.