Night Fishing Tips

Night Fishing Means One Thing....Huge Nocturnal Fish

Night fishing is truely an acquired taste and I can honestly say that once you've done it, hooked that big fish in the dark, quiet stillness of the night with no crowds around...You'll be back for more!

Big Bows at Midnight!

What a Leopard Hanging in The Shallows!

Football Season!

Guys Night Out!

Brian with a Sweet Bow!

Big Brownie took a Mouse Pattern!

Night fishing In The Keys!

Snook On!

Tandem Streamers all Night Long!

Don't forget to crimp those Barbs!

              Top Night Fishing Tips



For those that ever get up this way don't forget to try your luck at some big fish at night! Yes I am a night owl and live fo rthe night action! As with the daytime acitvity it can be hit or miss as maybe you've seen from my Big Fish pics at night from years past. I love it and anytime you have the opportunity to catch a monster nocturnal fish, or a WHAM on your tandem streamers at night will keep you coming back for more! I did catch a few at night this weekend but nothing picture has to be a Big one for me to "chance" bringing out my camera for a picture with the opportunity to drop it like I've done before. Night flies -mouse patterns, moma trailing her baby on top towards shore, big black leeches, white muddlers or any white streamer of choice, any baitfish fly, or just anything that will make noise and cause that instinctive reaction. Good luck and don't forget to crimp barbs, wear a red light, bring that 6 or 7 weight, cast cast and cast and most importantly ENJOY the evening stars, it's hard to beat!

Once mastered, the art of fly-fishing in the evening and on into the mysterious darkness of night can be extremely rewarding. Many anglers find it difficult to cast at night. The point about casting in the dark upsetting ones timing, can be counteracted by practicing casting with eyes closed.

At specific Lake areas fly fishing at night is traditional, especially at the mouths of several rivers feeding the lake. This is because at night, crayfish venture from the shelter of their deeper daytime burrows and move inshore to feed on decaying vegetable or animal matter. Trout, particularly brown trout, will also venture into very shallow areas feeling more secure under the cover of darkness. On dark moonless nights, trout will swim right in close to the edge. Therefore, it is not always necessary to cast long distances as the trout are virtually under your feet. An added bonus to night fishing is the fact that the bigger trout are generally more active at night.

Where a stream runs into a lake it creates a visible area of turbulence, known as a 'rip.' The rip will be triangular or parabolic in shape and on a moonlit night, you can actually make out the rip as a different 'surface texture'. If there is a decent current flowing into the lake, cast the fly across the rip and let the stream current swing the fly into the 'apex' of the rip. Use a full floating line with 8 feet of straight-gauge leader. The pukeko-style wing has a bulky water resistant profile, which means the fly will sink rather slowly. Allow the fly to swing to the end of the rip. Before starting the retrieve it, fish it stationary for at least a minute. Then the fly is fished along the bottom where the natural crayfish will be. Retrieve the fly using a slow figure of eight or a stop-start jerky retrieve. Use the slowest retrieve you can tolerate, the slower the better. If the current is from a very small stream, an immediate slow retrieve along the bottom is usually best. Here the apex of the rip is only a short distance out and the trout will hopefully be closer to the shore.

Delaney Butte Night Fishing Click Here


Another good time to fish leeches is at night during the hot summer moths. At this time of the year, during daylight hours, the shallower shoal water is often too warm for trout to comfortably feed in. Fish will sit in the deeper water just above the thermocline. The thermocline is described as that depth zone of water where the heat from the sun no longer penetrates and thus the water remains quite cool but still well oxygenated. In most small lakes the thermocline establishes between 6 and 8 metres deep. At night the shallower water cools enough for fish, and often big ones come onto the shoals to feed.

Leeches are big food items and often sought out by these nocturnally feeding trout. Fishing tactics change when night fishing. A floating flyline and a 4 metre long leader ending with 3 to 3.5 kg tippet is standard equipment. The heavier tippet material is required to cast big leech patterns and provide better odds in landing big fish. In most of these situations you will be anchoring in less than 3 metres of water casting towards bulrush or cattail patches.


Brown Trout


Food Habits:
Brown trout are carnivorous, bottom feeders and prefer to eat at dusk or night. The young feed on aquatic insects. Food is carried to them by the river or stream current. From a small area, possibly only three yards long and one yard wide, they are able to obtain all the food they require. As they grow in size their diet changes. Adult brown trout are voracious and eat food items such as worms, crustaceans, crayfish, mollusks, and salamanders. Some of the larger fish feed on the younger, smaller brown trout, frogs, birds, and mice, if available.


Streamers are good for night mimic crawfish, baitfish, and leeches

I experimented with white for awhile at night, but came to the conclusion that dark colors worked best...more contrast with the sky if fish are looking up.  if you are fishing them near the bottom...well i dont know, one would tend to think lighter colors would work better, but im never could figure it out.  for the most part my night pattens are all dark though, and fairly large in size with some bulk.  there is an article in the August issue of Colorado Fisherman that covers it, if you dont have a subscription PM me with an email address and ill see if i can find a copy of the article in Microsoft Word for you.

Crawfish molt their shells at night in shallow water.

Popular Articles:
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Night Time Trout
Learn more also about night fishing from another Night fishing friend John Wilson with fly fishing Arkansas.

Night fishing techniques

Also More Found Here

One of the most important keys to effective night fishing is to keep things simple, by deciding what your approach will be for that nights outing BEFORE it gets dark. Decide which line your going to use (floating, full sinking or sink tip, sink rate and so forth), the length of your leader, the tippet size and fly patterns you'll be fishing while it's still light.

What line to use: One decision you'll have to make is what type of fly line your going to use. Unlike daytime when large Trout generally like to hang out in deeper water, night time is when they'll often move shallow to feed. That's usually because the shallows are where the minnows like to stay and big fish get big by eating other fish.

Think how many size 18 Midges a Trout must eat to give it the same amount of nourishment it gets from just one 3 inch minnow. A minnow or a leech gives a Trout more "bug for the bite". Fishing a floating line with minnow and leech type patterns, in shallow shoreline waters is an effective night time technique. As are fishing the same patterns on a slow sinking line over shallow underwater weed beds. If you've decided to wade and fish from shore, go with a floating or perhaps sink tip line. Same goes for tube angles who are planning to cast into shore from their float tubes.

Which fly for night angling: For night time expeditions you can narrow down your fly choices to basically two categories Minnows and Leeches. In fact, I'm not so sure that fish don't take one thinking it's really the other. Patterns like Wooly Buggers, Bunny and Mohair Leeches I'm sure are commonly taken by Trout as a forage fish, when most anglers would correctly think of them as a Leech pattern. Regardless, all are an excellent choice for night time angling. I like using them in larger sizes than I would during the day, with sizes 4 to 6 being the most effective. Streamer type fly's such as Matuka's, Spruce Fly's and Platte River Special's (PRS) are also very good choices.


 Casting and retrieving: The one thing you do want to avoid at night is a tangle, and casting a fly line is probably the quickest way to create one. Trolling out of a float tube is easy and keeps things tangle free. If your fishing from the bank, casting is unavoidable, but there are things you can do to minimize your chances of an ugly snarl. First, rig with shorter and stouter leaders than you would during the day. I've seldom known night time fish to become leader shy, and I frequently fish my fly's on 7 foot leaders tapering to a 1x or 2x tippet. Second, I like to fish weighted fly's but I try to avoid putting split shot on my leader after dark. Weighted leaders, increase your odds of a tangle many fold and also increase you chances of picking up weeds and other debris. Third, if you must cast, make sure to use a heavier weight line like a number 7 or 8. Such line weights will reduce your chances of creating tailing loops, which are a frequent cause of tangles. And when you do cast, be a bit more deliberate and slow on your casting stroke to allow your line to straighten out completely behind you, once again reducing your chance of a leader snafu.

As for retrieving, most of the time I like to go SLOW after dark. If your in your tube, a slow troll is about as effective as anything. If fishing from the bank, a slow strip or hand twist retrieve works well. Always remember to place your line under the index finger on your rod hand as you retrieve. When you feel a take, clamp down with your finger to keep a tight line as you raise the rod tip to set the hook. There are times when a quick retrieve will out produce a slow one. I find this to be especially true when fishing a streamer rather than a leech pattern. In these cases, use a quick and varied strip retrieve rather than the usual slow and deliberate one. I vary my quick strips from 3 to 8 inches and make them fast, staccato and abrupt. It seems the fish like their fly's at one extreme or the other, with something in the middle being least effective of all. I'd guess this is due in part to the choice of patterns I prefer to use at night. Leech's being slow, while minnows can really take off.

Best months and times: As you might guess, night time fishing, while highly effective for large Trout is not a year round proposition. In fact, I've found it to work best during the late spring/early summer period and then once again in the early fall.






iI did pI lost some text related to this when we discussed moon phases.
And l hate to blow my own trumpet here, but l an tell you l have fished 1000s of hours during conditions of diminished light, but never on a night that is pitch black as l have and other friends of mine that it is more or less a waste of time. There has to be some available light source for a Salmonid to see a fly, finding natural prey with other senses such as smell and sound are a different matter.

Brown trout do have a far superior eye than Bows, they are a indigenous species of fish introduced to this country in the 1800s, and they largely still retain their nocturnal habits as they do back in my homelands. They have acute senses for feeding during those times and by far have a far superior eye make up to Bows. Remember Rainbow trout are largly the progeny of hatcheries, and have to a very large extent lost many of the ways of their wild genetic background, which is of course a species that is anadromous and its primary reason for entering a fresh water system is to spawn and not feed, they may well take a food source at times as they will a fly.

Rainbows, to some extent l call them swimming chickens, but there are exceptions to the rule of course such as systems that do have natural production. And now and again you may well nail a good fish during night time fishing periods.

Regarding the night fishing deal, yes of course climatic conditions may influence if fish will take or not, but there are also many others that relate to what you do as a fisherman.

There is no doubt in my book that there are 3 phases during the night, early, late and the period before dawn.

Also that fish will move to zones in a river during those periods, within the normal make up of a typical pool if you like, either at the tail, top of the riffle or mid section, during those times, as that has a relation to O2 content and also how they choose to feed on available food sources, depending on what they are, caddis, mayfly, midges, stonefly etc as well as crawdads, bait fish etc.
I like to know the formation of that zone, its length and overall depth as that will determine the line l will use and also how l will fish during that period.
As a rule l prefer to fish a dry line, as it is way easier to deal with at night, then comes a slime line and then a sink tip for deeper and faster water zones.

I will use flies that may well be typical traditional wet flies in sizes 10/12, l may also use streamers as long as 6 ins, and top water flies such as big muddlers, tandem hook rigs in some cases and also dry flies.

I do not believe that fish have the means to see color as they do during the daylight hrs, but l do know that flies that incorporate tinsel bodies of both gold and silver can be the deal at times, as for sure light sources will cause some degree of emittence from that source.
And l also know that flies that differ say from black to overall color tones of light biased material such as gray mallard will have some degree of transmitted vision to the fishes eye given the prevailing light and your related angle of fishing to that source, and the depth that you fish.

So far as what l use for leader material, yes l will fish 3 flies at night no problem with around 4lb bs, and that means has caught me a awfull amount of big fish.
Then l may well also fish 6 to 10lb straight at a given length if l am using big flies.

This is more or less how l will work at night. Early on dusk to dark and maybe a hr or so after, l prefer to fish with smaller flies.
From around 2 hrs after dark l go with larger flies, which may be sub surface or surface fished, and from 2 hours before dawn l will go back with smaller flies.
And l do this for reasons, one of which is that their are more natural bugs around during the early and late periods. That also promotes fish to look for those food sources more so in the surface.Typically Browns do not feed at night early season or when temps drop very low, as a rule it is when there is a good abundance of natural food sources available. And that is when water temps rise. The presence of heavy fog is normally not good either at that blocks out overhead light sources, and also promotes cold/damp conditions.

I also know from experience that heavy leaders can spook when used for surface techniques.

A few years ago, l had finished with customers at Rim, got to talking with Garry for a while, just before dusk l took the boat back out in front of the boat dock, may be mid way between it and the far shore. In 3/4 hr l caught 3 Browns of
3.5-4.10oz and 9lb, they were all caught on the surface with a size 10 regular shank silver muddler to 4lb line.

Then some time back Dave Whitlock and l fished a late session from the boat at night, no joke we nailed the heck out of Browns one after the other, all within a mile section of the river. That same zone some years ago before that l had a day with Steve, 52 Browns ranging from 10ins to just under 5lb. again with small flies, top water.
last year at Bull shoals dam, two units running, took Vern my neighbor fishing, again had a unreal time, with many fish in the 3 to 5 and the best going 8, all on small flies. This was again within a 2 hr period.

I guess what l am telling you as that do not assume that you have to fish big flies all the the time, there are periods for that for sure.

I will normally fish by a means that l can detect takes by line sight or feel, as it is very difficult to do that with more upstream methods when the light source is reduced. There are times for sure when dead drifting in the surface when you can see a fish rise, you may not be able to see your fly, but if you know its likely position the odds are if you see a rise he has the fly.

Here is my golden rules for night fishing.

1. Do not have a leader configuration formed with loops as that causes undue surface wake as you recover the flies. Fish at this time can be and are very wary of any surface movement.
2. Do not disturb the water with bad casting, ripping line off the water or creating noise when you set the fly out there, flashlights and any thing else that would not be in the norm.
3. Wade with care, any abnormal wake you cause, noise walking on rocks and things of that nature are not good.
4.Decide on a given zone you will fish and stick with it, even if you think it is no good, it may be just a time deal. Wait it out. On good nights you will often hear fish feeding in the surface. And if you are in the right position you will see them.
5.Do not continually flog the water, one big lesson l learned many years back, fish a while and take out on the shore. You will only reduce many times you chances of catching that fish of a life time.
6, Be very familiar with the zone you are going to fish, both on the water and behind you as trees and bankside vegetation will catch you up in a hurry.
7. My final advice is this, do not try to over extend your comfortable casting range as you will surely mess up, and you do need to know that you leader is not in a birds nest.
You will after many hrs of fishing develope a second nature to that and know that all is well or other wise. You can literally feel it as you make the cast.
What l make my clients do is this. Go cast a good average range you can with as little physical effort as you can. Then mark you fly line so you know at what range you are fishing at, by whipping some thread on it, or tie some elastic band around the line at that point, that you an feel. Visual distance at night is a very weird thing.

Finally never go night fishing by yourself and never wade in deep water, unless you really know the zone you are in well, even then be very cautious, l came very close to death one time because of that when a river rose from rain fall way up stream from my location and l did not know that it had done so, here we have to deal with water release.



              Tips from other fellow fisherman


1) In my opinion... its not really the moon phase.. it more or less the river bottom.. But thats Taneycomo.. and my opinion!

I have seen nights.. pitch black and very foggy.. and caught alot on a size 14 sculpin.. dragging it along the bottom..

full moon out.. stripping a olive wooly as fast as you can and them jump out of the water when they take it...

on any giving night I can use a white wooly and still catch fish!!


2) Gary told me he preferred the dark of the moon, the darker the better. He used a fly called the night cougar, basically a zoo cougar tied in all black. Gary told me he had the most luck casting across and down, then let it hang at the end of the swing and short strip it a few times.


3) I don't profess to be an expert, but i LOVE night fishing more than I do day fishing (and that's saying a lot). Davy's golden rules, in my experience, really are GOLDEN. Especially the part about not pushing water when you wade, and not moving around too much. It is my FIRM opinion that fish become hypersensitive to compression waves in the dark, as a primary sense for feeding. This also means that they become much more aware of clumsy footwork by us! And the fact is, I believe that more big fish are feeding at night now, on our overpressured waters. They're used to feeling people slosh through the water in the daytime, but i KNOW that they shut down at night when they feel the ripples.

I experienced this firsthand in the spring of 2005. I was fishing the dam pool on Norfork, and having a joyful time with the fish -- many strikes and some landed. Headlights came down the ramp and my heart sank. Two other anglers blasted out into the water, one above me and one below. Felt like a boat going by at 30 knots when their "wakes" hit my legs. VERY noticeable. Immediately, the fishing shut down. And stayed shut down until they left 2 hours later. An hour after their taillights faded, the fish lit up again and we played until dawn. Night fishing is not partytime


4) I typically gear up a bit heavy for the night fishing! I have an old 8wt with a light tip to it! Allows the confidence to heandle most anything yet an easy feel of any hits! I like the pitch black nights but any are good! Taking a likily single position is a safe idea for sure! I like the tailout of a ripple as it pitches into a pool with some depth, standing in the sallower waters, maybe some 15-20 feet up stream into the ripple!
I try to be in place with the last bit of light of the day! Set up with a longer, but heavy tippet, typically about 5x by 15'! The extra length will act a bit as a shock!
Now, a bit of diffewrence! I tend to pitch a larger, white streamer! Of the old Smelt type patterns! About 3-5" long with a bit of darker topping and some light flash on the sides! I will pitch about 45 degrees toward either side of streight down stream! Drop some slack as the Streamer swings toward down sream, allowing it to sink a few inches. As the slack takes up, the streamer will rush to the surface as if fleeing! A few short strips, taking up a few feet of line then hold tight! If no blasting hit, just drop the slack back out!, work the rod tip left. and right. a few feet then repeat the strip up stream a few feet!.... If still no hit, pick up for a flip out to the opposite side as before! Repeat process!




6) John Wilson: Moon phase is a factor here not so much by the time but by the available light. Fish seem to prefer dark nights so no moon or cloud cover are important. I fish smaller flies than you'd think actually. I know some guys throw huge black streamers but I fish flies that are generally similar in size to day time flies.

I also fish high in the water column. I think it's important for fish to be able to profile the fly. If it is light out I'll fish deep )with a mono nymphing system. Same as the daytime light day go deep etc.

If you are fishing surface flies use a knotless sinking leader. The last thing you want is something causing a wake off your leader.







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