During the summer, bass fishing can be better – and more comfortable – at night. Night fishing has its challenges, though. First and foremost is moving around and working in the dark, but you often also have to deal with things like bats and insects. I’ve had bats hit my line at night, and once I accidentally knocked one into the water with my rod! Fortunately, you can do plenty of things to make night fishing easier. Here are a few of the best additions to your night fishing arsenal.
Lights – Shore Fishing
One of the biggest problems I have with fishing from shore at night is when I’m moving from place to place. I have quite a few things to carry, so I hate to make myself one-handed by using a flashlight. The best solution I’ve found is Sneaky Hunter BootLamps. They have two versions – one for hunters and one for hikers. The hunting and the hiking versions can be lit in your choice of three light colors (two bulbs for each color, so a total of six bulbs per light) and run on three AAA batteries. The strap can be used to attach the lights to your shins or your boots – super handy when you’re trying to navigate a rocky shoreline in the dark. They weigh less than three ounces each, so you’ll barely know they’re there. They run just under $60 and are water resistant and made in the USA. Check them out at www.sneakyhunter.com.
Once you’ve settled into a fishing spot, it’s nice to have the option of having a lantern to give you light so you can see to cast, grab a bait, etc. The only problem is that those lanterns attract bugs, making a miserable night. But there is a lantern that repels insects, and it costs around $40. It’s called the Scout Mosquito Repellent Camp Lantern, and it puts out 220 lumens while repelling mosquitos in a 15-foot zone around the lantern. It comes with 12 hours of refills, one 12-hour repellent mat, and one fuel cartridge. It takes 4 AA batteries but weighs just over half a pound. Refills of the repellent are $45 for 120 hours’ worth. You can see them at www.thermacell.com. Rayovac also makes a lantern that attracts 69% fewer insects than those with a white LED. It’s about 7 inches by 3-1/2 inches, but I couldn’t find out how much it weighs. An option for a shore fisherman if it’s lightweight.
Lights – Shore or Boat Fishing
Cap lights are also handy for fishermen because they make it easy to light up your hands or tackle box when you’re trying to re-tie or change baits. A lot of companies make cap lights, so you should be able to find them at most outdoor stores. Some give you a choice of colors or even UV lights. UV light makes fluorescent line glow, making it much easier to watch your line at night. A bonus of UV Cap Lights is that if you leave them on while walking, they’ll light up any scorpions, so you don’t risk sitting on one. I know a gal who did that. Very painful by all accounts.
Although light is essential when you need to find a new bait, re-tie, etc., those bright white lights can trash your night vision, meaning that once you turn the light off, you can’t see for a few minutes. Using a red light will help with that. Believe it, you can get a Rayovac Sportsman LED 3 Mode Hat Clip Light (SPCLPUV-B) for around eleven bucks on eBay. It’s got white light, red for night vision, and UV. It’s got a 15-hour run time in white mode, and the head pivots in five positions. It fits any cap and includes two size 2032 lithium button batteries. By the way, those batteries are easy to find and small enough to put in your tackle box, so get a couple of extras and bring them along just in case.
Lights – Boat Fishing
Speaking of UV lights, there are all kinds of UV lights made to attach to the gunwales to light up the shore and your line at night while you fish. Some even replace the rope in the rub rails, so you have light all around the boat – they’re pricey, though. However, you can get a Bass Pro Shops Night Stalker Rechargeable LED Fishing Light for around $80, which attaches with suction cups. It can be plugged into the cigarette lighter plug, or it can run on its internal battery for up to 8 hours, and it will recharge when it is connected to power. Check them out on www.basspro.com. You might want two for each side of the boat so you don’t have to keep moving it when fishing off the other side.
Another type of light you need when night fishing in a boat is a powerful spotlight. Our canyon lakes in Arizona are so dark at night that it’s downright dangerous to navigate without a spotlight. The Brinkman QBeam Max Million is fantastic: it’s rechargeable but can also plug into the cigarette lighter socket of your boat. It costs $65 on Amazon. A rechargeable one that also plugs into the boat is ideal, so you don’t have to worry about your batteries dying on you.
Backpacks For Shore Fishermen
Unless you set up next to your vehicle and stay in one spot all night, you’ll need a way to get your tackle and gear from one place to the next. A fishing backpack is excellent for this and can also be handy if you’re going out as a non-boater. It’s a lot easier to carry your tackle on your back than in your hands or slung over your shoulder, and it also gives you better balance on uneven ground. Plano makes some fantastic and affordable fishing backpacks with slide-out tackle boxes that allow you to find what you are looking for quickly – no rooting around in a dark bag.
The Plano Z-Series Waterproof Backpack has a roll top for quick and easy access to the two 3700 StowAway® Utility Boxes. Their A-Series 2.0 Tackle Backpack has a flap that opens to reveal a stack of StowAway® Boxes, plus it has padded shoulder straps and a back cushion for comfort. If you travel light, you should check out their Weekender Series cases. They aren’t backpacks, but they can sling over your shoulder and around onto your back cross-body style to keep your hands free while you walk. The backpacks also give you plenty of extra room for a sandwich or snacks.
Seating For Shore Fishermen
If you typically set up and stay with your vehicle, you can bring just about any chair with you fishing, but if you’re walking around the lake or up the river, you might think you have to go without. It’s nearly impossible to bass fish while sitting on the ground, but even a folding camp chair is a bit awkward to tote around along with tackle and rods. I found a great solution when searching for something to sit on while glassing for Coues deer. Since I’d be backpacking, it had to be highly portable and not too heavy. What I found was a little gem that is like a butt seat for hikers. It’s called a Sitgo, and it telescopes out to a one-legged seat that you use just like a butt seat. It only weighs 1-1/2 pounds, and when it’s folded up, it’s about the size of a water bottle. I love it, and it’s remarkably comfortable. They cost just under $40, but if you sign up on their site, you can get a $10 discount. Go to www.sitgo.com.
Tips For Night Fishing
One thing that will make night fishing more enjoyable is to stay organized. It’s bad enough to search through a mass of baits in the daytime, and at night it’s even more frustrating; plus, you are more likely to snag a finger on a hook. Keeping your hard baits organized and quiet while you go from place to place is challenging, but I found a great tackle box that solves both problems. It’s called The Gruv Fishing Silicone Hard Bait Organizer. Found it on www.thegrommet.com. The box with the silicone holders (they call it the Launch Pad) is $30. One or two boxes are probably all you’ll need if you’re walking the shore, but how many baits the box will hold depends on the size of the baits. It’s a fantastic idea because it keeps the baits organized and the hooks from getting tangled together.
Another thing that makes night fishing more enjoyable is to take your time. Don’t be in a rush to get anywhere. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been night fishing on Lake Pleasant and seen someone run his boat onto shore at full speed. It’s nuts. Get a bright light, watch for nav buoys, and take your time. In Arizona, the law says you have to keep your nav lights on all night so other boats can see you, but honestly, my experience is to not count on everyone seeing those. Keep your spotlight handy in case someone heads straight for you.
If you’re nervous about running the lake at night, don’t. Launch, and stay near the boat ramp. If there is a marina, the lights will let you safely navigate the area, and they may attract baitfish by attracting insects. I know a lot of guys who swear by marina fishing at night. We have spent many nights in the marina area at Lake Pleasant, listening to the Cantina music and catching big bass on jigs and crankbaits.
The one thing that bothers me about night fishing is insects. They may not even bite, but a cloud of gnats around your head is highly distracting and irritating. If you’re the back seater, you have that white nav light close to you, and that thing attracts insects. It can also be in the way when you’re trying to cast. We figured out a way to alleviate both those problems. When we stop to fish at night, we take the backlight pole out and put a small battery-operated lantern on the motor. I can’t find mine online anymore, but a quick search for collapsible lanterns will show you a variety of them. You can use one gel pad that sticks to anything but can be peeled off easily. They’re awesome. That way, you’re legal with a white light that can be seen 360 degrees, but the light is further from your face and isn’t sticking up to interfere with your casting. The bug-repellent lantern mentioned earlier might be an option for you here. Just check to make sure you’re legal with the amount of light being put out.
Get a mosquito net for your hat if the bugs are nasty. Since I’m in the back seat, I wear a wide brim hat when I fish at night because otherwise, the nav light reflects off my glasses even when it’s behind me or to the side. Adding a cheap mosquito net to a hat is an easy fix for the bug and the reflection problem.
Oh, and about the bats. I was kidding – I did accidentally smack a bat into the water at Bartlett Lake, but he wasn’t attacking me – bats find insects by echolocation, so they sometimes mistake your fishing line for an insect. Bats are harmless to people and eat tons of flying insects, so bats are your friends.
Summer is night fishing time: there are no water skiers, it’s cooler, you won’t get a sunburn, and most of the time, the fishing is better at night during summer. You don’t need a lot of expensive gear, but investing a few bucks in the right stuff will make your night fishing more enjoyable.
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