Night Fishing - True or False?
FlyFishMagazine.com Tail water Editor, Jeff Paisley takes a look at stalking large trout in the dark of the night.
The question for avid fly fishermen is can trout be taken at night on a fly. Well, some can but itís not for the faint at heart. The fish are bigger and the bite is harder but the conditions are more dangerous than any daytime fishing could ever be. The first time I tried it; a friend (Zugbug) and I worked a few slow pools on the Little Red River in Arkansas. To say the least we didnít have a clue. The rocks were slick, the fog thick, and the temperature was cold. After a few bite less hours we called it a night.
Over the next few months Zug and I rehashed the night of no success, trying to determine exactly what went wrong. Finally, we decided it wasnít the techniques but the experience of doing it and the feeling of being uncomfortable on the water. So we scheduled another trip to the Norfork River in Arkansas. After a long day of fishing, we decided to stop fishing and eat, so we jumped in the truck and drove to town.
About ten oíclock we decided to head back to the river. We gathered all our favored fishing equipment and started our trek for the water. We tried a number of lights to determine the best for fishing. Soon it became apparent that lights wouldnít be used for anything but navigation and tying flies on. We tried nymphing with no luck so I tied on a streamer and the river came alive. Bite after bite, fish after fish for the next four and a half hours. I would make long casts and use short but emphatic jerks on the retrieve. 17 casts in a row produced fish, with the biggest being landed right after the horn blew on the dam. I had fly fished for the last 20 years and had some great days on some fantastic rivers, but I had never been so satisfied from a fishing experience as on that night.
The bottom line to night fishing is that itís TRUE. Fishing is very productive but very dangerous. Patience is a virtue and a fisherman must be mentally prepared for the experience. The fish are much more aggressive and they are much bigger as well. The only certain thing in night fishing is the uncertainty of every facet of fishing and wading. But if you can overcome the unbearable feelings of knowing nothing about what you are about to embark on it can be the most productive and satisfying fishing experience of your life.
Editorís note: Be sure to check your regulations before attempting to trout fish after sunset. Paisley and Zugbug did their fishing in Arkansas where it is legal. However, the Southeast has a limited number of fisheries where night fishing is allowed. Also we canít say enough about safety. Anglers are encouraged to wear floatation devices and night fishing should only take place on familiar waters. Fishing at night is dangerous and you should do so at your own risk.