What is night fishing?

What is night fishing?

Whether fishing inland waters of rivers of lakes, or fishing the deep sea, many anglers enjoy and even prefer the experience of night fishing.  It is common to fish at night for stripers, bass, crappie, and more.

Night fishing typically involves a boat, so that the angler or anglers can move out of shallow areas along the shore and banks, and find larger concentrations of fish in deeper water.

Night fishing can be very rewarding, but there are many things you need to consider in preparation for night fishing.


With night fishing, safety is a primary concern. As with any boating experience, be sure to check the weather conditions ahead of time to make sure they are conducive to boating. This is especially important at night, when darkness can limit your ability to detect incoming weather patterns you might otherwise be able to notice by watching the sky during daylight hours.

Float plan

It is important to plan where you’re going to be fishing. If it’s in unfamiliar waters, take a dry run during the daylight, using your GPS navigation and also a secondary navigation source to make sure you are clear about where you’re heading. It is also important to let a trusted friend or associate know about the details of your float plan, including the marina or launch ramps that you anticipate will be involved.  Agree on a time you will check in with them to let them know you’ve made it safely to shore.

GPS navigation

Even in familiar waters, it is easy to become disoriented in the darkness. It is extremely important for your own safety to make sure you have a working GPS unit, and preferably a backup GPS unit, so that you can find your way safely to your fishing spot and back.

Bug repellent

You may be on the water for a few hours, or perhaps longer.  Forgetting your bug spray could make for a very uncomfortable experience.

Live bait

In the darkness, fish will be attracted by two things: smell and sound. The smell of live bait can help your fishing efforts. If you are deep sea fishing, you might want to put out a chum to attract the type of fish you want to catch.


It is very important to keep an eye out for other boats that may be night fishing in the area. It is not uncommon for night fishing accidents to occur. This can be due to pilot negligence, lack or proper lighting, or inability to navigate unfamiliar waters safely. You as the operator of your vessel are always responsible for avoiding collisions and accidents.


Other boats need to see you, so make sure all your running lights are in working order and are turned on.  Other lights around the boat can be helpful as well, such as gunnel lights, cabin, and cockpit lights. Before you set out on your night fishing adventure, you may want to do a dry run in the darkness near shore, checking your lights to be sure you have adequate lighting.  You will also want to have working flashlights, and potentially a lamp you can attach

Boat and boat motor

Because it may be difficult to get help at night if you break down, it is important to make sure your boat is in working order.

Night fishing tournaments

There are many regions that host night fishing tournaments, including those below and many more.  Night fishing tournaments typically involve a prize for the winning catch or catches, along with an entry fee to cover the costs of the tournament.

  • Lake Piru Night Fishing Tournament (CA)
  • Eufaula Cove (OK); bass fishing tournament
  • Key West Summer Swordfish Tournament (FL)

Night Fishing Charters

Night fishing charters are common with deep sea fishing, and many are available along the East and West Coast of the United States as well as Mexico at virtually all times of the year. One can find many areas along the coast in Florida, California, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and Maryland where chartered night fishing tours are available.

While many anglers enjoy the competition involved in night fishing tournaments, or the company involved when it comes to fishing with others as part of a night fishing charter, other anglers prefer to enjoy the peace and tranquility that can come from night fishing on their own.

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