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Old 05-16-2016, 12:32 PM
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Default A Night Fishing Consensus?

Over the years I have done my fair share of night fishing... Mice, streamers, etc. The idea is that big browns come out from their hiding places and cruise the stream in search of a big meal. I will not argue that dawn and dusk are absolutely fantastic for this type of behavior, however fishing at night has been largely unproductive. I am not saying I am going to stop, but I am wondering what is the consensus on this? Is it best in summer and when fish are capitalizing on lower water temps? Only on a full moon? I would love to hear anyone weigh in on how they have done at night... I am largely talking about the East here, because its a little bit of a different animal, but I would like to hear what the folks out west have to say. Pictures encouraged.
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Old 05-16-2016, 01:04 PM
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Default Re: A Night Fishing Consensus?

I think everyone should try just to see if they like it. I have had my in the dark adventures but prefer light, even poor light. The only time I hooked a giant was below the hatchery (same stretch where the guy caught the 16 pound brown years back that made him a legend) I hooked something on my six weight that stayed on the bottom and swam slow. We never saw it (it was pitch dark) and when I gave it the make it or break it by pumping and reeling to attempt dragging it to shallow water the hook came loose...........

That ordeal lasted about tem minutes, first I thought I was snagged to a dead limb but then it moved upstream. Then it moved down, up, down etc. The new PA. fly rod record?? Who knows.

I prefer the half hour before sunrise if there is a target area. I've got a lot of 2 footers that way.
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Old 05-16-2016, 01:09 PM
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Default Re: A Night Fishing Consensus?

I've fished at night a lot, but much more often for striped bass than for trout

But fish are fish and one thing that I'm certain of is that night feeding fish don't become active until well after dark has settled in.
In the summer, we're talking midnight until false dawn.
There's usually no action at all for the first hour and things don't really get rolling until about the third hour after full darkness.

I think that a lot of fly fishermen consider staying out after dusk to be "night fishing", but actually the first hour of darkness is one of the worst times of the day to be out there.
The fish can't see any better than you, and they're not feeding.

You need to wait a few hours for their (and your) eyes to adjust and for them to move into their night feeding lies.
Then they're ready and you can set your watch by it.

Pitch black, new moon, in the rain

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Old 05-17-2016, 12:21 AM
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Default Re: A Night Fishing Consensus?

I've always had much better luck at night and I agree with RipTide regarding time, though might even urge more to around 2:00-3:00AM as being the prime time.

The rivers and lakes here in Michigan are really quite suited to this kind of fishing. The waters bottom is typically more sand or soil so even (unlike the tippy K.Y. & snot covered bowling balls out west), though there is a trick to walking.

Some folks believe you should "shuffle." That I disagree with in that I would think it makes more subsurface sound, and surface sound is unavoidable. The problem with it is ultimately you tend to not truly shuffle yet just lift your foot slightly and move it forward, and it is then that you find the sunken logs, limbs and rocks that are bound to trip you up. So, I say lift your foot a little more and don't swing your foot to its next placement yet step down toward it. Just keep it in mind, it will make sense when you try it.

Regarding river fishing, shorten up your casts and practice working the drift to your target better. IOW, don't try for those longer casts that might snag the bank ahead or behind in that the farther you cast the tougher it is to control. I believe you still want to work those "hides" like you do in the day (undercut banks and the like) in that the fish though they will come out farther into the stream for all intents and purposes are simply more willing to come out to grab a bite more.

That said, oddly from some wide rivers I've hooked into some guys that moved right into the middle of it. So don't think it's going to just be a night of frustration snagging the brush on the bank. I'm also a believer in tying on bigger flies then I might typically at night. Sure, they might be hitting midges during the day, and they might at night, but I've simply had better luck going bigger. Like say they're hitting 22's in the light, a 14 might do fine, and don't sweat the color so much.

Don't forget streamers and top waters. Mice and frog patterns can be deadly on bigger fish. Streamers just go a little bigger than you might during the day, but who knows, you might cast a tuna size streamer and...

I don't sweat the moon phase thing too much as to will the fish bite. That said I've never really made the effort to note if it has effect.

Of primary importance however, take some time and learn to see in the dark. You can actually see much better than you realize, but you have to give it a chance. So turn off the flashlights, take your time, and it will come to you...So, rig up as soon as possible to give your eyes time to adjust.

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Old 05-17-2016, 07:01 AM
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Default Re: A Night Fishing Consensus?

My best fishing has been on non-moon nights as I believe that the Browns are more active when it is the lowest of the light conditions. They feel more protected with the cloak of a dark night. Also, I have seen guys fish with their cap lights on, and I use to be one of those, but not any more. I may flip on a red or green light during the fight to get a perspective of the fish and the fight. Afterwards, I will only use the light to tie on another fly.

On my home rivers, I become familiar with the stretch that I intend to fish at night during the day. I wade to get a perspective of where surprise pot holes may exist. With that said, most of the areas are knee to thigh deep that I fish. I also have found that I am best off by making long casts downstream parallel to the bank. A lot of the Browns come over toward the bank and feed. I think too many guys wade out too far and likely spook fish in the closer lane to the bank. Just like too many of do during the day as we are intent on getting out where the fish are and then end up compromising fish 5 to 10' out from the bank.

Something that I started doing, as well, is to take a light Cabela's life jacket that has a CO2 cartridge. You can pull a cord to inflate or it is supposed to inflate upon impact. I find this gives me comfort in being safe at night. Night fishing is not for everyone, but I believe there is a drug in the tug at night! My best retrieve is to strip three times and then pause a moment. I find most of my takes happen on the fall. This can be after the initial cast or the retrieve. Also, dont' stay in one spot too long if you are not catching fish. Keep moving downstream. Lastly, I find the 10-2 time frame best for me.
Good luck!
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Old 05-17-2016, 08:11 AM
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Default Re: A Night Fishing Consensus?

Eye Doc ..... "Your night vision used to be close to an Owl, not any more, no more driving in the dark." He's right. Well back in the day, sun down .... 'Get Evans up here on the bridge.' My Binoc's, NO ONE touched them, one, a newbie, did ... he was off the boat a few minutes later.

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Old 05-17-2016, 05:32 PM
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Default Re: A Night Fishing Consensus?

I've had some great experiences with browns, smallmouths, and toothies under the first gray streaks of dawn, but true dead-black night fishing has been a dud for me. I'll still try it a time or two a season -- all those people who swear by it surely aren't just making it up -- but at this point I'm dialed in to a particular kind of confidence that comes with stealthing up on a likely spot in the earliest hints of light.

I gather that if you want to fly fish a big striper, especially from shore, making friends with the dark is important, but I'm a total beginner with stripers.
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Old 05-17-2016, 06:18 PM
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Default Re: A Night Fishing Consensus?

I did it several times on the Truckee but I would pick out a run during the day walk it and try to learn it as best I could. I would come back about 3AM and hooked into some nice fish, browns and rainbows. One big fly, heavy tippet.

I've done it a few time on the Potomac too and caught a few really nice smallmouth and browns. One big fly, heavy tippet.

I only do one run though and then I am done. I like to fish during the day much better. A bit weird for me being out in the pitch black, scared of the dark I guess, what a sissy.

I think I might prefer salt fishing in the night more, but I don't know anything about it, that is saltwater fishing.
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Old 05-27-2016, 01:34 AM
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Default Re: A Night Fishing Consensus?

I love night fishing for big browns with the mighty mouse. It is a bit spooky sometimes being out in the river in the dead of night. I once had a cabin owner staking out their cabin for thieves & scared the living day lights out of me and my son. They came running out of the bushes THINKING we were attempting to break into their cabin! Of course, we were just fishing. SO that is in the back of my mind while passing that stretch of river each year.

I'd hooked into all my biggest browns night fishing, either with a mouse OR with a Hex fly late in June, early July. It isn't for everyone, as you have to learn how to cast without seeing. It is a rush. I typically fish about 3-5 nights each summer. I land several fish. 15" and up. In this river, a 20 incher is a very big brown, and it is a really rare thing to see Brown trout beyond 25 inches. Only had 2 bigger then 20 inches in the last several years.
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Old 05-27-2016, 05:02 AM
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Default Re: A Night Fishing Consensus?

Well, if the hatch activity on the river lately is any indication, it won't be long before the AuSable River starts seeing more "Midnight to 4:00 AM" fishing, a fair share of long midday naps, and a bit less pressure during the daylight hours. "THE bugs"-- Hex --aren't all that far off from making their annual run on the river...

Until then, however, there are plenty of good hatches coming off right now, more than enough to keep any angler happy. Have a safe weekend, guys...

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