Best tips for nighttime fishing

Joey Cifuentes

The Alabama Swing really showed everyone just how challenging summertime fishing can be. On the upside, you can definitely find a good bite first thing in the morning. A lot of times, the fish are active until about 9 a.m.

You can get into active fish by going  down the bank with a buzzbait, or you can fish points with a walking bait. There’s definitely the potential to have good fishing days, you just have to understand they’ll be short.

This time of year, what I really enjoy is night fishing. From the Arkansas River to local lakes, I fish a lot of night tournaments, and it’s just a different scenario.

Typically in a night tournament, you will have about two hours until it actually gets dark. Fishing is slow to start because the fish are still lethargic from the day’s heat, and they want to start feeding as it gets dark.

We’ll usually start by going to brushpiles where fish like to hide during the day. Also docks and marinas offer lots of potential with fish that have been hiding in the shadows most of the day.

I’ll fish the brushpiles with Texas-rigged worms, a jig, shaky head and a weedless drop shot. It might take a while to get them going, but you’re just looking for a couple of keepers to start. You usually get your better fish at night.

As the night gets darker, I’ll continue to fish brush with 3/4-ounce black and blue or black and red spinnerbait with a big Colorado blade. I like to wind it really slow because it has that slow thump. You can tick that brushpile, and if there’s a fish down in there, you can get it to react.

At the beginning of summer, you can just go down steep banks and throw that spinnerbait right up to the bank or out on the edge of those bushes and wind slow. At night, a lot of those fish will pull up to the bank, so we’ll generally start with a spinnerbait or a black and blue jig and fish it slowly on those steeper banks or on a point.

Sometimes the spinnerbait’s really good, but sometimes they want something right on the bottom. If you have some wind, the spinnerbait excels, but if it’s dead slick calm, the jig is more effective.

One thing I’ve found handy is a head lamp. I usually don’t have this on while I’m fishing, but when you pull up to a bank, it is helpful to tick the light on and get your bearings. Full moon nights are helpful once your eyes adjust to the lighting.

You have to consider that accuracy is very important at night. It can be discouraging when you’re throwing your bait up on the bank or up in the bushes, but with practice, you’ll work out your distances.

Safety is another key element of night fishing, so make sure your lights are working.