Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts. As I have mentioned in a number of other recent posts, it is coming into winter here where I live meaning we do a little more night fishing than we do in the summer. So on that note, as I start to prepare for all of this here are my 5 tips for beach fishing at night. Night fishing can be quite a lot of fun and in comparison to the daytime, can throw so much more at you in terms of the species you can catch and how you can land them.
This is due to the fact that:
- Fish generally tend to be more active at night as they feel safer without the sunlight
- Larger fish will venture into shallower waters to chase smaller food
Added to that for us is the fact that some local species for us are more accessible as they come into the shallower waters in winter as it is a little warmer there. And whilst there are some advantages, there is also some more preparation to be done as well so let’s have a look at my tips below:
1. Scope the beach in the daylight
In previous posts on tips for beach fishing, I have highlighted the importance of checking the beach for structures such as gutters, holes, rocks and reefs etc. This is due to the fact that in the daylight, fish tend to congregate in these areas. The problem is that unlike in the daytime, it is not always as easy to find them at night.
Hence, you could do a lot worse than checking out the beach in the daytime. This way you can take note of where the gutters etc. are so that you can find them a little easier later on.
Another factor however to consider when you are looking at the beach is that when you are fishing in heavy surf, you need to keep an eye on where your line washes out to. Again, this is not as easy at night as you simply can’t always see where your line is. So I would also recommend looking for areas with longer shore break and less surf that you could try out at night as well.
And remember, fish will venture into these areas at night chasing smaller fish unlike the lighter hours when they tend to hide a bit more.
2. Take some light
Let’s face it, whether it is day or night, fishing is a two handed proposition. You simply cannot rig you line, cut up bait, bait your hook, change a lure or even remove a fish from a hook with one hand. This is fine if you are on the beach fishing in the daytime, but obviously not as easy at night. The solution – a fishing headlamp.
As the name probably suggests, a fishing headlamp is a light that you place on your head to use whilst fishing at night. The advantage here is that with the light on your head, you can still use both hands and see what you are doing as well. As a base, there are three main types to choose from:
- Band headlamp – These are the common type where the lighting element is attached to a band that wraps around the head. These are good as they often come with a number of settings and colour options and an adjustable strap meaning they will stay on your head. They are also usually light in weight and durable enough to be dropped into your fishing backpack.
- Beanie headlamp – These are basically a beanie (knitted head hugging hat) with a little spot at the front that houses a headlamp. In general, the light is secondary to the fact that you are keeping your head warm hence the light does not tend to have as many settings as the band varieties above.
- Clip-on headlamp – These are the types that clip onto the brim of a cap or hat and popular with those who either like to wear hats rather than beanies or if you have been fishing over the afternoon into nighttime or vice versa into the morning. Light settings can be basic or advanced dependent upon the options purchased and some even come with motion sensors as well.
Another advantage of lights is that they can actually work as a fish attractant at night with lower settings and different colours. In many cases, you can use the highest brightness for setting things up, then a low or coloured light whilst you are fishing to attract fish (or a red light for safety – see below).
3. Take a couple of rods
In the first tip above, I discussed the fact that at night, there can potentially be a few more areas to catch fish on a beach than in the daytime where you really need to stick to gutters etc. What this can mean however is that if you a looking to adapt from deep to shallow water fishing then you may need a couple of different rods on the beach.
I personally like to not only take two (or three) rods with me, but use them both at the same time. I usually take the following:
- A 13ft heavy action surf rod that I use with a heavy sinker and large bait – This sits in the rod holder and just waits for a ‘big one’ to swim by. To be honest, we call this the stingray attractor as that is what we usually catch… hahaha.
- A 8ft estuary rod which I use to flick a lure or small bait in a close gutter or shore break. This one works a treat and the lighter rod and gear is good fun.
In the daytime, I use an 11ft medium/fast rod which is great for long casting with a lure or heavy sinker making it good for both gutters and chasing surface fish outside the shore break. If we know that these fish are running through at night I will take this rod as well so I can cast long and retrieve with lures too.
The rods you choose may obviously differ based on the conditions of the beach that you are fishing on, however in my experience, the need to change rods is much greater at night than it is during the day.
4. Pre-prepare your rigs
This next tip has been born out of the fact that as I have gotten a bit older, I simply struggle to be able to see the line properly at night if I have to change rigs. Hence, I started setting up a few rigs for each possible fishing setup that I may use so that if I want to change them around whilst on the beach in the dark, then I am simply reducing the number of knots that I have to tie.
We generally use a simple running sinker rig where you have line – sinker – swivel – leader line – hook (as below).
In this case, I will tie three or four swivel – leader line – hook rigs so that I only really need to thread a sinker and tie the one knot to the swivel if I need to change. Each rig may have a different size hook and swivel based in the weight of the sinker I want to use.
If the stingrays are around, I will change to a 3-way swivel rig so that the bait is not on the sea floor at much. In this case, I will also have three or four rigs with swivel, line – hook and swivel to line with a loop at the bottom where I can easily adjust the sinker size.
Again, regardless of the type of rig you want to use, having three of four pre tied not only saves you time, but also reduces the amount of knots you are trying to tie at night where vision can be reduced (even with a headlamp).
5. Stay safe
And finally, as we have already established, things are obviously a lot harder to see at night than in the daytime. This can not only include changes to fishing conditions but also the weather as well meaning that the nature of the beach can change extremely quickly. To that end, it is highly recommended that you include the following in your kit when you venture onto the beach for some night fishing:
- Wet weather gear
- Safety light (some headlamps include these)
- Mobile/Cell phone in dry pocket
- Water and some food
It is also obviously safer to go with at least one other but if not, don’t forget to let someone know exactly where you will be and how long you plan to be there.
So there you have it, my 5 tips for beach fishing at night. As always, these are not going to guarantee you a catch, however they should give you a little more chance of success that you may not have otherwise had.
Have you tried anything else that has worked well, or not so well for you? If so, please comment below and we can have a chat.