Why You Should Be Fishing At Night | Kayak Angler Magazine | Rapid Media
A person rigging a lure in their kayak under a full moon. Photo by Alex Perez.

Three Pros on why they fish under cover of darkness.

Just because the sun goes down doesn’t mean the fish aren't hungry. Red drum, largemouth and striped bass are ready to party all night long. These fish are programmed to feed in the dark, when the bait is most vulnerable and predators hide in the shadows. Get in on this bite and you double your fishing time.

All nighter 1
Rock around the clock.

Eric Harrison

Striped bass, also known as rockfish, are famous night owls. Black shoulders and silver stripes make linesiders almost invisible in the inky water. Boston area striper master and Hobie top gun Eric Harrison doesn’t get much sleep. “It’s pretty much a year round bite,” he laughs, “I almost always fish at night.” In the summer he targets beaches and bays then turns to backwaters and rivers for resident fish in the winter. 

Harrison favors a big bait at night. “A 13-inch Hogy Eel on a leadhead jig offers a huge profile and makes a lot of commotion to attract fish in the dark.” He often works the lure by dangling it just off the bottom. “Striper are searching the rocks for lobster, baitfish and crabs that come out in the evening.” The cover of darkness encourages bass to hunt shallow water. Harrison concentrates on areas that are five to fifteen-feet deep. He keeps an eye on where the striper fleet finds success during the day then returns after dark to fish the shallows.

He prefers a conventional rod and reel set up so he can keep a finger on the line. “Big bass will often hit the jig as it falls,” he explains. “So I pay attention for hits on the drop.” He uses a fishfinder and GPS to find fish and mark structure, so he can look for similar spots that might hold fish.

all nighter 2
Full moon, big mouth bass.

Richie Moschella

Pro bass angler and host of the Reel Deal Fishing Show, Richie Moschella spends a lot of time hunting bass in the dark. “Nothing beats a balmy summer night casting for bass,” Moschella says. In fact, night fishing is a welcome break to the summer heat and humidity. With the sun down, the water cools and the bass come out to play. Under the cover of darkness, Moschella isn’t concerned about sunburn.

He looks for bucketmouths around docks, jetties and other structures. “A shallow flat near deep water is prime real estate,” he adds. The fish spend the heat of the day hiding in cool deep water, moving shallow in search of bait when the sun drops.

To get the fish’s attention, Moschella likes to make some commotion. “Mimicking dying prey on the surface drives bass crazy.” He chooses a Cavitron buzzbait by Mega Strike. “They brag it’s the slowest buzzbait ever,” Moschella points out. Working the bait slow allows it to stay in the strike zone longer, which is important for working structures and lights. The noisy blades draw in the bass, then the large profile of the oxbow blade and rubber skirt make the Cavitron irresistible. He adds, “Don’t hesitate to buzz it over submerged grass.”

All nighter 3
 Red sky at night

 Brandon Barton

Red drum awake anglers from Virginia to the Gulf Coast. In the center of the action, pro guide Brandon Barton prowls bridge lights for big reds. The light falling from streetlights draws in bait and the fish follow. Barton is never far behind.

“You can actually spot the fish swimming in the lights,” he says. Barton hunts for long, black bodies holding in the current. “Look in the shadows under the bridge,” he says. If he doesn’t spot fish, he’ll fan cast along the shadow line or work his lure deeper.

A big splash topwater is best. “The Whopper Plopper is my favorite,” he says. This swimmer features a hard body and a soft plastic tail. When the lure is retrieved, the tail spins and sputters water. To target reds holding deeper in the lights, he drifts a LiveTarget Pinfish Swimbait.

Prime feeding occurs on the falling tide. Barton says to seek clear water for the best sight casting. Night fishing requires extra caution. The United States Coast Guard requires anglers to carry a single white light after dark, but safety conscious anglers will want to carry a white navigation light visible at least a mile away. An emergency strobe and pealess whistle will alert rescuers of your position. Add plenty of reflective material to your kayak and PFD.

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