Night Fishing for Trout
Late summer begins a special time for brown trout. As the temperature cools and gives way to crisp autumn air, brown trout prepare their annual spawning rituals, swimming into headwaters and creeks in droves.
In mid-October, female brown trout will search out shallow gravel bars and other areas that are deemed suitable for bedding areas where they will lay their eggs.
But before this happens, both male and female browns will congregate in large schools in or near the creeks where they will spawn.
While in these groups, brown trout are highly aggressive and will strike at nearly anything within range as they intend to fatten themselves up for the spawn, when they often go without food for long stretches.
One of the best strategies for catching trophy brown trout before the spawn is to go under the cover of darkness. Night fishing for trout is quite popular in areas where brown trout rule the rivers.
Many night time trout fishing techniques will work for rainbows as well as browns as night fishing is a popular activity for anglers during the summer months.
If you’re planning to venture out after sundown, here are a few tips to help you target these big browns—and other kinds of trout—and hone in your skills to become an expert when it comes to night fishing for trout.
Best Times for Night Fishing for Trout
It’s a well-known fact among trout anglers that these kinds of fish have acute vision, even in the darkness of night. Trout use their eyesight and other senses to seek out and attack prey after sundown, but their behavior is relatively the same when it comes to the night time feeding patterns of trout.
Trout are very active at dusk and even for a few hours after dark. This is widely considered to be one of the best times for catching trout after dark.
Larger lake trout will cruise the banks after dark in search of potential meals, and areas where streams come into a lake are particularly good for catching trout at night.
It’s also good to fish for trout right before daylight in many cases as the soft glow of the rising sun provides just enough light for trout to begin hunting the shallows and other areas for a morning bite.
Contrary to popular belief, fishing for trout at night when the full moon is shining bright is actually not the best time to catch trout. Similar to their daytime behavior, trout will usually become more active when there is significant cloud cover at night, which allows them to have an added level of stealth over any unsuspecting prey.
It’s best to fish in areas where there is no artificial lighting as this allows trout to feed as they naturally would in the dark. Simply put, the darker the night, the better your chances of catching trout.
Best Baits for Nighttime Trout Fishing
Trout usually pick up on potential meals using their eyesight, but that’s going to be limited when they are feeding under the cover of darkness. Baits that appeal to other senses besides eyesight often work best for trout fishing at night.
Many anglers opt for a stick bait or broke-back minnow that will break the water’s surface and catch the attention of any nearby trout. These can be fished using a steady retrieve, or brought in using a sporadic motion in the same way a wounded baitfish might behave.
Glow-in-the-dark worms and grubs are always a unique choice that sometimes produce results. Using a light-up bobber is also a good way to keep a close eye on your lure so you won’t miss any bites.
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Cut baits and other natural options are also a solid choice for night fishing. Trout will often use their sense of smell to detect certain things that can satisfy their hunger.
Using a trout bobber with cut bait is a popular choice at night because it allows anglers to sit and wait patiently without spooking trout away from a good location.
Nightcrawlers are another great choice for night fishing trout and can be fished using a bobber, or with a split-shot sinker to keep the bait at or near the bottom.
Night Fishing Gear
You’ll need to bring some kind of headlamp or other light in order to see when fishing for trout at night. As we’ve already mentioned, it’s best to avoid exposing trout to any artificial light if possible, but that’s often unavoidable, especially when it’s particularly dark.
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Using a headlamp or other light that offers a red is your best choice. Red-colored lighting is not as noticeable to trout and is often enough for anglers to see their surroundings well enough to tie on lures and do other tasks without alarming any nearby trout.
If you must use a typical headlamp or flashlight, be sure to use it sparingly in order to avoid scaring away any attentive fish.
Best Tactics for Nighttime Trout
- For lake trout, be sure to keep your bait or lure in the strike zone as long as possible. This means you’ll want to cast out almost parallel to the bank instead of casting your lure straight out into the lake.
- While daytime trout fishing might focus on deep pockets and fishing around structure, trout often like to venture far into the shallows at night in search of small baitfish and other critters. Don’t be afraid to cast into the shallows, especially near areas where streams enter into a lake.
- When night fishing for trout, you’ll want to tune your ears in as much as you can since many anglers say that you’ll hear a bite before you ever see or feel one.
Night fishing has many similarities to daytime angling, but can sometimes produce surprising results. If you use these tips and stick with a stealthy approach, you’ll find that it’s just as easy to catch a trophy trout at night as it is during the daytime.