Is It Legal To Fish At Night?

We have all wanted to do it, and have all heard the stories about people catching monster catfish and other fish at night, but are these stories real or just old angler tales. Night fishing has become a very popular thing to do, especially for people living in the south and loving catfish.

It is very important to know a few things before even considering taking out the boat, or hiking it down to the water while on a camping trip to try your luck at fishing. Anyone that has just gotten into the sport, or people like me that had been fishing the mountains for years, always have the same question as I did, and that is if fishing at night is even a legal thing to do. There are advantages to fishing at night, but there are also disadvantages as well, and it can be quite a bit more dangerous than regular day fishing.

Night fishing has a huge fan base, especially for catfish, and people that I always asked had a straight blanket yes, or no answer when it came to this question, but was it right? No, it was not right, because it really just depends on the state Fish and Game laws. Most states do allow fishing at night and it is not something you have to dress all in black for and sneak out with your rod so you don’t get caught. In many states night fishing is very much legal and there are laws that make it okay. Before just believing in your buddy telling you its okay or not okay to do, please spend a few minutes going to your states Fish and Game website and just take a look. If you cannot find an answer there, give them a call and ask them! They are there to help and inform you, so you don’t get that nasty ticket when doing something wrong.

Beware of Debris

If fishing at night is allowed by your state Fish and Game, you are going to want to take some precautions before just heading out after the sun goes down. Even if you are a master of your local terrain, the land gets much different at night, and so does the water. If you are going to be fishing off of the shore, it’s a good idea to scope out the land in the daytime first so you know where trees and rocks are going to be so you have a good idea of a trail you want to follow.

Nothing is worse than getting out there and falling, tripping over a tree branch and losing your gear, or even worse hurting yourself. If you go by yourself, it’s going to be a long crawl back to your car with a twisted ankle. If you are on a boat, it is even more important to know where you are going, so you don’t run into a rock, or tree sticking out of the water.

Having a spotter might be the best thing for you, and going slower will help as well so they can guide you to the right spots and keep you away from obstacles. A depth gauge is also going to be a good tool as well so you don’t run your boat into the ground tearing up your propeller.

Lights, Camera, Action

A flashlight or headlamp is going to be your best friend when walking around at night, so it might be a good idea to spend a few extra bucks and get a light that is really going to last, and really make things brighter. You want something that is going to light up the path you are on, and maybe an extra few yards so you know what is coming down the trail. If you are on a boat, please use your running lights and have a spotter with one of those spotlights so they can canvas the water as you are moving.

I promise that this is NOT going to be a waste of money, and will save you time and money in repairs if something were to go wrong out there. Nothing is worse than being stranded out on the lake with no light and a broken boat, or even worse, a sinking ship. In some states, it is legal to use drop lights in the water, although I have never tested this, so I cant tell you if it scares the fish off or not.

Feeding Frenzy

There have been many “wives’ tales” around certain fish that only eat at night, and that is the only time you can catch them, but after much research on this topic I have learned that they are just stories and almost all fish will feed any time of the day. Fish normally feed when there is going to be an abundance of food for them to prey on, so for most fish that feed on insects, its going to be in the early morning or at dusk.

fishing at night

This does not mean that you can only catch fish at those two times, it only means that they feed more then, and you can really catch fish all day long if you find the right lure and technique to use. Bottom feeding fish like catfish will also feed at almost any time of the day, so if you are going to be night fishing, do it for the experience of it, and not because you think that it is the only time of day you can catch a certain fish.

Phone a Friend

If you are going to be going out after dark, I recommend that you invite a friend, or at least tell your friends and family where you are going to be in case something happens. I know this might sound like a dumb childish thing to do, but you never know what you are going to find out there at night, or what might happen if you trip over a log, or twist your ankle in a hole.

If you are going with a friend, you will at least have someone out there with you that can go call for help, or get you back to your car if something happens out there. If you have to go out alone, telling a family member or a friend might save your life because if you haven’t come back by morning, they can go out and check on you or at least send law enforcement, or a game warden out to make sure you survived the adventure. Use your head and be practical about what you are going out to do and you will have a great time.

Final Thoughts

Night fishing was a very fun experience for me because it was so much different than being out there during the day. There is a lot more animals moving around at night, and it is a much more quiet experience because the water is so calm, and you don’t have the wind howling in your ear. Always check your local Fish and Game website, or call the office before going to ensure that it is legal and you are not breaking the law.

Be safe, and let people know where you are going so if something does happen, people know and can call or send help for you. A decent light is going to make all the difference in the world when trying to get to the spot you want to fish, so please don’t buy the cheapest thing on the market, be smart and buy the best light you can get on your budget.

Finally, have fun! I can promise you that night fishing is going to be a whole new experience for you and is much different than hitting your favourite fishing spot during the day.

Leave a Comment