As strange as it may sound, I find something very calming about fishing in the dark. You will not rely on your sense of sight as much and a lot more on your sense of hearing and touch. It is now one of my favorite times to fish. However, the world of night time fishing was one I didn’t consider until about 7 years ago when my typical fishing times changed once my first child was born. With a newborn came many new responsibilities so I found myself not being available to fish as often during the “prime” times although my desire to fish was still as strong as ever. So I began to explore the possibility of fishing at Night when the household was all settled in from a busy day. Here are a few tips that will make your night time experience enjoyable and possibly more productive.
If you have the ability to scout the water during the daylight, this will pay huge dividends when you return at night. Scouting the water will allow you to understand the riverbed structures and identify locations where the Brown Trout will be at night. Browns will hold in the deeper parts of the pool during the day and as night falls, they will drop back to the tail out and shallows of the pools to actively feed. Scouting in the daylight will also allow you to identify spots where you can cast from that are obstruction free.
There are a lot more bugs out at night, especially mosquitoes in Nova Scotia. I highly recommend wearing a long sleeve collared shirt and a RIO sun buff to cover your neck and face. In addition to that, wearing a billed hat and clear lens glasses will ensure that you are fully protected.
Use a headlamp that gives you the option of white light and red light. I use the white light while walking to the river but once near the river make sure you switch to the red light. The red light will not spook the fish like a white light does and it will also not create a glare and allows your eyes to adjust quickly when you shut it off. White lights will also attract bugs that will swarm around your face. When fishing, keep all lights off and once you hook a fish or need to change your fly pattern just turn the red light option back on.
Moon Phases and Weather
Moon phases are key when fishing at night for Brown Trout. Typically the most productive times are waxing crescent moon and waning crescent moon. Those will be your darkest nights and the top water action is usually the best. Waxing Gibbous and Waning Gibbous is when a large portion of the moon is lit. Top water action is still possible but I prefer to fish big nymph patterns at these times because the fish tend to become a bit spooky with the extra light. A full moon is the toughest to fish at night since it is the brightest night of the 8 moon phases. This extra light creates a lot of shadows and tends to make the fish very spooky. However, it is still possible to hook a few Brown Trout if you lengthen you leader and fish smaller nymphs. I highly recommend the RIO Fluroflex tapered leader for this situation. It has a near invisible presentation, high abrasion resistance and excellent knot strength. Weather is also a factor. I prefer a night of moderate to high wind when fishing for Brown Trout. On those nights, I fish big top water patterns since there is no fear of spooking the Brown Trout. A warm summer night also triggers a lot of insect hatches and mice can be heard scurrying through the grass. If the wind is minimal I will fish nymphs in sizes 2-6.
I only use a few specific patterns when fishing at night but they typically all have one common characteristic – they are dark. Dark colors are far more effective at night time since it creates a better profile for Brown Trout to see. The patterns I fish are foam mice, muddlers and zoo cougars on the surface. I will cast them to the shallows of the pools and strip them back at various speeds. When fishing below the surface I will use bead head stone fly nymphs in sizes 2-6 and retrieve them back at a slow speed.
Casting and Fly Lines
With big top water patterns and weighted nymphs it takes a few false casts to get the fly in the zone. Avoid laying the false casts on the water because this will move the fish around and spook them. When retrieving the fly, don’t pull it out of the water to early to make the next cast. Bring it as close to you as possible and then subtly lift it out without making too much commotion. My fly line of preference is the RIO Intouch Grand. Its low stretch helps detect the subtle takes, faster reaction time when setting the hook and better control of the fish during the battle. It also has a MaxCast coating that gives you extra durability. Prior to each trip I take at night, I use the RIO Wonder Cloth to clean my line and dress it with RIO AGENTX for to make casting as easy as possible in the dark.
Length of Leader
When fishing at night and using top water patterns, my preference is to use a 7.5ft RIO Powerflex Plus Trout Leader. I will often use the 3x (9.5lbs) option since it gives me the strength to keep the fish out of any debris in the water like logs or weed beds. It will also allow for more responsive hook sets once you hear the sound of the take and sudden tightening of your line. When I fish fly patterns below the surface like nymphs, I usually go with 9 ft of 3x Powerflex Plus.
I try not to wade when fishing a night. If I have a choice, I will fish from an elevated bank. This helps with casting and will not risk spooking the fish. If you do have to wade, stay stationary as much as possible since most of the fish are in the shallow parts of the pool and will spook easily.
One of the most useful tools for fishing at night is a rubber mesh net with a long handle. I use one that is foldable and it makes landing a fish a lot easier in the dark. My preference is to fish from the bank so the long handle makes landing the fish a lot easier and ensures you don’t stir up the water and spook the other fish.
I love taking pics during my outings. To ensure the most success, configure your camera settings prior to going on your trip. Settings I like are to have ready is a 3 second timer, a night time flash and a small pocket size tripod I attach to my camera. Fumbling with your camera in the dark while fighting a fish will only cause frustration for you and stress on your fish.
In Summary, night time fishing has its challenges but very big rewards. Applying some of the tips above will greatly increase your chances of having an enjoyable trip.