Just Right: Fishing at Night

By: Terry Gibson


It’s early June and the moon is waxing. Lots of species are feeding voraciously, ahead of the June “spawning moon,” and they’re biting best at night.

Night fishing is so serene -- until the hookups start and mayhem ensues.

It’s cool and curious fishing, and you're always wondering what you might hook into in the dark. Here are three great ways to fish at night.

On the Reef

Mutton snappers are stacked on the reefs this time of the year and these wily fish are easier to catch at night. They move into shallow reefs this time of the year throughout the Keys, on the reefs off Lake Worth and off Stuart. Slightly deeper reefs hold kingfish as well as a variety of snappers and groupers. If you want to try fishing the reef at night, express your interest in advance so your guide can plan for it.

Under the Docks

Snook, speckled trout and tarpon, along with ladyfish, redfish and jacks, feed voraciously under docklights all summer long. The lights attract plankton, shrimp and small baitfish, setting up a regular buffet for these larger predators. Here’s a fly-fishing situation that everyone in love with the sport should try. You have to make a perfect cast in the dark with an exact replica of the forage items, set the hook then manage to wrestle the fish out from the structure. Conventional anglers do well on small jigs, plugs and live baits. Some great areas include the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter, Sarasota Bay and Marco Island.

Out on the Lake

As the night air cools water temperatures and photosynthesis virtually cease, bass are forced toward the cooler, more oxygen-rich top layers of the water column. They don’t mind. Their eyes are well-suited for feeding at night. They attack nocturnal forage species including frogs, insects and snakes in the shiny moonlight. Enjoy the cool night, the sounds and smells of the marshes, and the explosions caused by feeding bass in the dark. Popping bugs, chugging plugs and frog lures work best. Be careful on big lakes at night. My favorite night-fishing lakes are intimate water bodies, which are found throughout the state.

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