Safety When Fishing at Night
Safety when night fishing should be your top priority. From making sure you can be seen to clearing the boat deck so you won't stumble, you need to put safety first.
- Keep Running Lights On
If you don't have lights on at night other boaters can't see you. Keep your running lights on whenever moving, and also keep your white light on when anchored or sitting still. Make sure you can be seen.
- Watch Where You Are Going
Watch for other boaters, piers and docks and floating debris at night. You can use a spotlight to watch the water ahead of you, but be aware spotlights kill side vision and your night vision. On a bright night it is sometimes better to keep spotlights turned off. Always be aware of your surroundings.
- Stow Tackle and Equipment
Put rods, tackle boxes, coolers and other equipment into lockers or leave it at home. Reduce your tackle to a few items you know you will use. Put your net in a place where you won't trip over it but can still find it when you need it.
Tackle To Use Night Fishing
Keep your equipment to a minimum when fishing at night. If you are going fishing for crappie, leave your heavy bass tackle in the rod locker or at home. Don't carry a bucket of minnows to trip over if you plan on casting plastic worms for bass all night.
- Rods and Reels
Many bass fishermen carry dozens of rods and reels on their boat deck but you need to limit the number you carry while night fishing. One or two rods should be enough for crappie, walleye, hybrids or bass. Plan on changing terminal tackle rather than just picking up another rod. But make sure your one or two rods are suitable for your quarry.
- Terminal Tackle
Again, carry tackle specific to the fish you are after. A few basics for bass fishing, like plastic worms, spinnerbaits and crankbaits are all you need. Colors don't matter much at night so stick with one or two basic dark colors. For live bait fishing include a few hooks, sinkers and corks in a small plastic box you can keep handy.
- Landing Nets
You often need nets but take one as small as possible. Big nets are good for landing fish but get in the way. You are less likely to trip over a smaller net.
- Live Bait
If possible put live bait like minnows in your livewell or a built in container rather than having a bucket sitting on the deck that gets in the way. Keep containers as small as practical. Don't put earthworms in a cooler size box, keep them in a small container.
Lights At Night
Other than your running lights, you need some kind of light to see how to tie knots and put bait on the hook. You also need a bright spotlight to see how to dock, watch for floating objects and follow the shoreline. But keep light use to a minimum since they temporarily hurt your night vision.
- Flashlights and Spotlights
Keep a well charged flashlight handy to flip on for finding hooks, landing fish and tying knots. One you can keep in a pocket or in a holder in a specific spot in the boat helps you find it quickly when you need it.
Not the kind you find on cars. You can buy a small light that clips on your cap bill or comes with a headband. They are great for tying on tackle or spotting things in the boat. Keep one on your cap bill and you can quickly find what you need.
Boat and Motor
Make sure your boat and motor and all equipment is in perfect working order. It is harder to fix a problem in the dark and if you break down it may be hours before anyone finds you.
Watch the weather even more carefully than during the day. Storms can slip up on you and you can't outrun them as easily as during the day. Keep a weather radio with you and listen to it. Dress appropriately but carry warm clothes. It gets surprisingly cold even during the hot summer. And carry rain gear.
There are always critters out there wanting to suck your blood so use a good bug spray and keep it refreshed at night. It can mean the difference between a short, miserable trip with more time spent swatting bugs or an enjoyable evening catching fish.
First Aide Kits
Carry a good first aide kit and know how to use it. You are more likely to have an accident at night so be prepared to take care of problems.
Pay attention to details, be prepared for problems and carry what you need for night fishing. You can have fun and catch fish.