Fishing at Night? Target These Species

Although it is enjoyable to fish at night, many choose not to because they do not know which species they will be able to catch. If you are trying to decide the species of fish you want to target at night, then you have come to the right place!

When fishing at night in saltwater, target redfish, speckled trout, and striped bass. In freshwater, target rainbow trout, walleye, catfish and largemouth bass. These species are active at night and are commonly caught during the evening. Fish are most active an hour before sunset or three hours after the sun sets.

Fishing at night brings an entirely new adventure because it is much different from fishing during the day. To discover everything you could ever want to know about fishing during the evening, keep reading below.

Can You Fish at Night?

It is possible to fish at night. Many individuals choose to fish in the evening because some species are most active during this time. Although fishing at night increases the risk of injuries, many still prefer to fish during this time. It is important to stay cautious, as it can be more dangerous than day fishing, but it can still be extremely enjoyable.

There is so much to enjoy about fishing, and these attributes are only enhanced when fishing is done in the peaceful hours of the night. You can be out on the water without anyone else there, and you can fully enjoy yourself.

Due to the secluded nature of fishing during “off times”, night fishing also offers a more personal experience. Fishing at night during the summer will give you the most opportunity to catch fish. The weather will be nice and it will give you a chance to get out of the blazing sun.

When you fish at night, you will receive an entirely different experience. When you fish during the day, you get to appreciate the sunlight and the others around you. On the other hand, fishing in the moonlight is a more secluded experience, and it’s an escape from the warm weather. It will likely be cold when you fish at night, so you must remember to dress appropriately for that. In addition to the change in fishing attire, night fishing requires different bait to target the specific fish that are active at night.

Many fishermen have realized that boat fishing at night is not necessarily the best way to go. Fishing near the shoreline often produces the best results, and this is also much safer for the fisher. Try to avoid going out in your boat at night, because that’s when the danger and risk of an accident increase.

For more information on fishing at night check out this article: Can You Fish at Night? (Each State Covered)

Best Species for Night Fishing

Before planning a fishing trip that takes place in the dark, you will want to know the best species to target. Deciding which fish you are going to target at night is crucial, as it may determine where you go. While many fish are active during the day, some species are most active during the night. These are the fish to target and catch. It will make the fishing trip more interesting, as you will get to see the behavior of fish at night since it is typically different than during the day.

While it is possible to catch most species at night, some fish are better known for being active in the dark. These are the fish that you are most likely to see when you go fishing during the night.

Below is a list of the best species for night fishing.

Saltwater Fish:

  • Tarpon
  • Snook
  • Speckled Trout
  • Striped Bass
  • Redfish
  • Black Drum
  • King Salmon
  • Coho Salmon

Freshwater Fish:

  • Largemouth bass
  • Trout
  • Musky 
  • Pike
  • Catfish
  • Walleye


Methods for Night Fishing

Before you fish at night, you may want to determine which angling method you are going to try! This may influence the type of fish caught, as well as the quantity.

Ice Fishing

Ice fishing can be very effective at night, yet it is important to be prepared and know where your ice hole is going to be. Positioning is key to ice fishing, and you should pick a location in the daylight where fish hang out. This is often near seaweed beds, shoals, or drop-offs.

For the best results, be sure to use the right kind of bait. This will also vary, depending on the type of fish you are trying to catch. The most active fish at night when it comes to ice fishing are crappie, walleye, trout, and pike.

As far as biting your icy line in the moonlight, walleye and crappie are most active at night. To catch these fish, highly visible jigs and lures work best.

Trout and pike can be caught at night, but they are less active than crappie and walleye. At night, trout are slower and prefer lures and waxworms, while pike love live bait or traps with flags. Avoid flashy, shiny metal spinners.

Bass Fishing

Bass fishing can also be done at night but may require more patience and technique because bass move to shallower waters at night. In the daytime, bass typically travel to deeper waters, but when temperatures cool at night, bass feed in shallower areas. If possible, fish in areas where deep and shallow come together.

When it comes to bass fishing at night, you want to use loud and bold jigs and lures. Fish are enticed by the vibration of the lure in the water and are more likely to bite at this time when visibility is low.

Be patient as well. You may be waiting a little longer at night to catch bass, but it can be worth it! Avoid overworking your bait, and match colors to the theme of the night (ex. during brighter nights, use brighter lures).

If you want to catch more bass at night check out this article I wrote: Best Night Bass Fishing Baits (Tips &Tricks)

Cat Fishing

If you want to go catfishing, all hours of the day are good times to catch catfish. However, nighttime is a peaceful time, and catfish may be in shallower waters. While catfish are not necessarily more active at night, they may just be more accessible. Their prey comes into shallower waters at night, and you can catch more fish from the shore at night instead of going out on a boat.

While you are night catfishing, all types of catfish are active, including blue catfish and channel catfish. Live bait works best to catch catfish, and remember, the more it smells, the more the catfish like it.

Fly Fishing

Fly fishing can be effective in the day as well as at night. It includes flicking your fly on top of the water, mimicking flies and other bugs that land on the water. If you are going to venture out and flyfish at night, make sure you know the terrain and area.

It may help to catch fish at night by using bigger flies, glow-in-the-dark fly lines, or a heavier rod. Bigger fish are feeding at night, and it is also more difficult for them to see. The species that are most active and available for nighttime fly fishers is the brown trout. These fish are known for their night feeding, making them easier to catch at night.

Best Bait for Night Fishing

Choosing your specific type of bait based on the time you will be fishing is very important. You will want to make sure that you pick a bait that will capture the attention of the fish. This will make the entire process easier, as the fish will come to you. When picking a bait for nighttime fishing, you will want to consider using ones that produce light, noise, and/or some kind of movement.

One of the best baits for night fishing is buzzbait. Although you will not get a large number of fish this way, you will get larger fish. The large fish will come swimming to you as they will be curious about the bait. The louder the buzz, the better. The buzzing sound and vibrations will simulate a large, vulnerable insect. This is very attractive to fish and they will come after your hook with a vengeance. You should try to make sure the bait is colored black, but dark blue is also an acceptable color for nighttime fishing.

Another great bait for night fishing is big worms. Big worms are worms that are over ten inches long. This classic bait is most popular for fishermen who practice at night. All the fish around you will be instantly attracted to the worm, so you will soon notice all the fish in the area coming toward your bait.

Spinnerbaits are also popular for moonlit fishing. They are great for luring fish to the bait, as they produce loud noises and obvious movement. Fish are curious about spinnerbaits so they come closer and eventually get caught. Successful spinnerbaits typically have loud noises and can even flash. This bait has everything that could ever attract a fish: light, movement, and noise. If you are going fishing at night, then you should heavily consider using spinnerbaits.

How to Fish at Night

Get Your Equipment

Being prepared is always important before hitting the water, and the lack of light during the night makes preparation even more important for fishermen. Making sure you have all of the necessary equipment can spare you an injury. There can be danger associated with fish during off-times, which is why you will want to ensure that you have everything you need beforehand.

The first item you will need is a light. When you are out in the water with no light around you, problems will start to occur. You will want to make sure you have at least one light source, such as a flashlight or a headlamp. You will also want to remember to bring extra batteries in case it dies while you’re out fishing.

You may also need a first aid kit. Having a first aid kit can be extremely helpful, especially if you happen to cut or injure yourself. You will want to be able to treat your wounds immediately to decrease the risk of infection. When you’re dealing with fish hooks, it’s always a good idea to have a first aid kit on hand. A lifejacket is also smart to bring with you for safety.

Lastly, you will want to bring all of your regular fishing supplies, and equipment. Do not get so caught up in the extra supplies you need for night fishing that you forget to bring the basics. The typical fishing items you will need include a fishing pole, bait, etc. You’re not likely to forget these, but double-check your standard fishing supplies before you go!

Arrive During Daylight

Do not arrive at your fishing destination when there is no light out. Setting everything up and getting prepared is extremely difficult to do in the dark. You will want to make sure that there is at least some light out when you are getting ready to set out.

If you do not want to get there during the daytime, make sure you have your entire course mapped out. You can do this by coming the day before and figuring out where you will want to go. This way you can go when there is full sunlight and you can decide which places should be avoided.

If you do go to your fishing spot the day before (or sometime during daylight hours), you will want to figure out the best places to go. You will want to find out which areas have large amounts of fish and which places do not. By figuring out the hotspots, you will know exactly where to go at night even before you get there.

Know When to Fish at Night

Knowing what time of the night to begin fishing is critical. If you fish at the right time, it will help you to be able to catch more fish. Most commonly, you will want to fish the hour before the sun sets, and then a few hours after. They are most active during these hours, which makes them the prime times for fishing.

Before going night fishing, you will want to check the weather. Fishing during the right weather conditions is just as important as fishing during the correct times. Fish prefer when it is cloudy and overcast, rather than sunny.

Related Fishing Resources

Aaron Warner

Aaron Warner is an avid angler with over 15 years of experience. He has participated and won fishing tournaments all over the country and enjoys fishing for bass, trout, walleye and other species.

Recent Posts