Preparing for a Night Fishing Expedition
If you’re heading out in a boat, the first order of business is to ensure that your running lights are working properly. It’s essential to have those lights when approaching other boats.
Another essential to night fishing is stealth because the cooler water temperatures bring the fish to the surface to feed on a variety of baitfish and crustaceans. Be as quiet as possible when approaching a targeted fishing spot to keep from spooking the fish.
How To Catch Fish at Night
When you’re out at night, look for pier and boathouses with lights in the many bays, bayous and islands on the Alabama coast. Those lights provide a perfect example of the inshore food chain. The lights attract insects, which attract small fish and crustaceans. Once the bait shows up, the speckled trout (spotted seatrout), redfish (red drum) and other species will soon follow. Shrimp and glass minnows will be the most common bait species under the lights. While live shrimp can be a great bait, you’d better carry plenty because the smaller fish will rob you on a regular basis.
I also like minnow-imitation plastic jigs. When reaching into your tackle box, look for a lure to match the size of the bait under the light.
When you approach the light, never cast directly under the light. Start fan-casting around the light as you ease into position. I like to cast to the dark edges of the light, which is where the larger fish tend to hang out. Many times, it will be the smaller fish that are in the brighter light.
Nighttime Fishing Supplies You Should Bring
Most of the time, 10-pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon as the mainline on either spinning or baitcasting tackle will work just fine. Depending on the structure and water clarity, I use either 15- or 20-pound fluorocarbon leader. The lighter, the better, if conditions allow. That leader can be the difference in success if a nice redfish or big trout bites and then tries to take you into barnacle-encrusted pilings.
And that hookset can be important as well. I had a buddy relate a story recently about how he and a friend were fishing a light with live shrimp. His buddy was not familiar with the finesse required in some saltwater situations and couldn’t seem to hook a fish despite losing plenty of bait.
If you’re fishing live shrimp, the fish will often grab the bait and ease into darker water before engulfing the shrimp. So give it a few seconds before you set the hook.
When looking for a productive pier with a light, those near deeper water seem to produce better numbers and bigger fish.
If you see the owners or guests on the targeted pier, be courteous and move to the next unoccupied pier with a light.
If you don’t have a boat, head out to the Gulf State Park Pier and fish for a variety of fish under the pier’s turtle-friendly lights.
Don’t let the dog days of summer keep you from enjoying the great fishing on the Alabama Gulf Coast.