Trout fishing at night can provide a huge payoff, but can also be super tricky. Every time I’m on a trout fishing trip I will wake up early and fish all throughout the day, but almost every time I will most likely fish at night as well. Night fishing allows the chance to catch trophy size trout- especially brown trout. I want to share some of the things I have learned about night fishing over the years!
Just like anything else in life, night fishing requires preparation. I invest quite a bit of time preparing for this so that it is worth my while. My favorite places to night fish are those that are known to hold giant fish. Everyone knows of that one place that has trophy fish- that place is where you want to go. The cool thing about tossing a fly into the water at night is that you never know what is going to bite. To me, one of the best opportunities to catch a trophy fish is at night!
To scout good areas, you can use Google search engine and find out where the big fish live. Along with finding a good river, you need to find out where to fish on that river. I usually like to go the day before and find deep pools where I think trout might stay. I like to try to find spots that have very little brush and trees so that I don’t get caught up on every cast. Also, check the flows before you go. A lot of places I fish have different water flows at different times. You should check with the right personnel to be sure that the water levels will be safe for you to go at night. Another thing to help you prepare for a night of success is to have the right gear. At night I usually throw streamers, so I use a heavy rod in order to support these flies. Also a heavy rod will allow you to bring in big fish without having to run up and down the river. I usually use my 7 weight rod for this. On this rod I usually use quite heavy leaders. During the daytime using thick leader is questionable because of trout being deterred by the sight of it, but at night this isn’t much of a worry. I use thick leader because I don’t have to worry about breaking off. I like to start my leader off with 25 pound test and then taper it down to about 2 feet of 20 pound test, and then down to 15 pound test. This is a really heavy leader but it always works for me and I know that I can count on this! Usually the hits on streamers are violent but with a heavy leader I won’t have to be scared of losing my fish. I like to use a 4-6-foot leader on floating line. Just a couple other suggestions I have are to bring a cheap pair of safety glasses in order to leave with both eyes working, and also bring a buddy!
For nighttime fishing, I almost always use streamers. Although I do usually use them, other options will work as well. On nights with a lot of moonlight, caddis flies work really well. As goes for streamers, I like to use black, unweighted flies. The reason unweighted, dark flies work best is because the trout can easily see the of silhouette of a dark fly above them. I like to use a fly on the larger side because a lot of times bigger fish are more active at night and are more vulnerable. For flies, I usually just tie up some crazy patterns that I feel would look good under water. I just make sure my fly has good action to it, and if it’s a streamer I always make sure to add a stinger hook in the back. Stinger hooks help with those fish that nip at the tail end of your fly. With a stinger on the end of your fly you are more likely to hook into those fish that you might have missed otherwise. A good pattern to try at night would be a large slump-buster or even an articulated wooly bugger. With these streamers I like to use slow movement and small twitches. Mice patterns also have a reputation for drawing out the big fish at night. I use quick, even strips for a mouse pattern.
All trout can be targeted at night, but the most commonly targeted is the brown trout. It is their unique eyesight that sets them apart from other trout species. I think that your best shot at a trophy fish at night is to target browns. It has been scientifically proven that brown trout feed better compared to other trout at night due to better eyesight during low light. Along with this, brown trout are natural predators. I learned from Derek Olthuis of Trout Academy that brown trout use their lateral line (an organ that runs the length of the body) to detect movement and this is a reason to use a bigger pattern when targeting browns. Brown trout are my personal favorite to hunt at night not only because they pack a punch, but also because their beauty is astonishing!
Though I do enjoy catching trout during the day, there is something about night fishing that keeps bringing me back! There is just something about hooking into a fish in the dark and not knowing what species or even the size of it until you bring it in that intrigues me. Give it a try and you just might enjoy the thrill just as much as I do!