Night Fishing Report: Dock Light Blues

Rich Ellison

To me there is nothing pleasant about fishing in 95-degree weather. The older I get, the harder it is for me to fish in this blasted heat. Most of the time you can find me on the night shift, paddling in my Hobie Outback. There are several advantages to fishing at night. First, you aren’t subject to heat stroke. That alone is worth giving it a try. Secondly, if you can find a dock light that has been well lit in some good brackish water, you may fill your cooler rather quickly. Third, these fish are easy to harvest. If you roll up on a dock light that has fish popping the surface, there’s a better than average chance you’re going to catch a few. If you can find a string of dock lights, well that is the ultimate night trip.

June proved to be a tough month. It started off with a bang but fizzled out rather quickly. I essentially fish a handful of places. I like Daphne, Fairhope, Weeks Bay, Fish River, Bon Secour, & occasionally Little Lagoon. Under the right circumstances any of these places can fill your cooler. We had some weather that affected the fishing more than usual for this time of year. A west wind at night in Mobile Bay is best avoided.
My go to lure is an 1/8 oz. jig with a Gulp swimming mullet. These tear up easily and are rather expensive, but I’ve found them to be worth the premium. If you prefer a cheaper plastic, feel free. You’ll catch fish, just not as many as me. When you approach the lights, try to keep a safe distance so you don’t spook the fish. When you do hook up, try your best to avoid disturbing the active light. If you do get pulled through a light by an uncooperative Bull Red, leave it alone immediately! The fish will return, but I’ve seen them shut down completely from overfishing.
Why do I have the blues? There are no strings of good dock lights right now. The lights on the eastern shore are few and far between. When fishing from a kayak, you are obviously limited to how much water you can cover in a night. Even worse, you find a good dock light & a discourteous boater motors right up to the action. It is hard to bite your tongue when this happens, but it is best to move along without incident. Just know that boat scared all the fish away.

While we are on the topic of courtesy, I cannot overstate leaving docks alone that have people on them. If you do get on a good dock, be sure to practice ethical fishing. Once you’ve caught a limit, it’s best you move on. Staying will just educate the fish & hurt your prospects. One unnamed light in particular comes to my mind. It did my heavy lifting all month, but right now you couldn’t buy a bite.

As we trudge forward into the dog days of summer, the night fishing will continue to improve. I have noticed a few speckled trout showing up North in the bay. It will be later summer before some of the bigger Bull Reds are regulars. Don’t be surprised if you catch a flounder. They are always a welcome surprise, as I have never caught one on purpose! Be sure to tell a friend your float plan, light your boat and wear your PFD. The fishing is only going to get better (provided there are no hurricanes!)

Rich Ellison
Outback Fishing Adventures