By Capt. Michael Okruhlik
With the dog days upon us, night fishing can be productive and much more comfortable than slogging it out during the heat of the day. Many fish feed aggressively in the still of the night. They can be targeted by anglers in multiple ways in different locations. Here are a few options to try. I’ve utilized all three methods and found success with each.
• Perhaps the coolest strategy is wade fishing in the dark. Large trout and redfish move unbelievably shallow under the cover of the night sky, and tossing a topwater plug on the flats can result in exciting explosions.
I typically wade in the dark without lights, other than a headlamp for changing lures or unhooking fish. With vision impaired, your sense of hearing is on high alert. Nighttime is quiet on the water, which makes the commotion of a topwater take startling. It can give the impression that a fish is larger than it really is. That’s part of the excitement of a topwater bite!
For safety reasons, I only wade at night in areas I know well and have fished many times.
• Another way to beat the heat is to focus on dock lights. This can be done from the dock, a kayak or a boat. Many canal homes have lights, both under water and above the surface. Lights attract baitfish, which in-turn attract the gamefish we target.
Trout, reds and snook are all drawn to baitfish around lights at night. I like to target these areas with smaller lures. In this situation, I’ve had a lot of success throwing my Knockin Tail Lures, which are soft-plastic paddletails with a built-in rattle. Small, lipped hard baits can also be very productive around canal lights. I prefer natural colors, with some shade of white or clear and some silver mixed in.
• Fish also feed around rock jetties at night. The setup for this bite requires a little more work, but it can yield terrific results. When jetty fishing, I bring a generator and two 1,500 watt stage lights.
These areas typically have more current, so I fish slightly larger lipped hard lures, but I still go with the smallest lure I can work properly in the current. I stick with the same color pattern as mentioned earlier.
The channel and surf side of the rocks can both be productive depending on the tide, water clarity and bait presence. I recommend pointing one light in each direction until you determine which areas have the best conditions.
Night fishing definitely brings new challenges, but it can offer some of the best catching of the summer. Remember, safety first and don’t fish alone.
Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Knockin Tail Lures, Controlled Descent Lures and the owner of www.MyCoastOutdoors.com.