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By Ted Takasaki and Scott Richardson
The night has a thousand ‘eyes, so the old song goes. And, it’s
true. Big walleyes rely on their exceptional eyesight and developed lateral
lines to hunt at night. “They will bite all year long at night in
clear-water situations,” said Lindy Pro Staff team member Randy Amenrud,
an outdoor writer and operator of Fishing Pro-Mo’s, a tackle promotions
“A spot that might hold a few fish in daytime may hold 100 at night.”
Another advantage is that you don’t see those crowds that you would normally
see during the day. It’s way passed their bedtime.
The basics of night fishing are the same as in the day, but fishing
after dark has some special challenges.
Scout spots when the sun is up. It’s easier to find the subtle
spots-on-a-spot that attract and hold walleyes then. It’s also easier
to identify potential hazards, like buoys, and shallow areas.
Use a map, sonar and GPS, if you have one. The map will identify
classic fish-holding structure. Look for reefs and points with mid-lake
humps often holding bigger fish. Wind-blown spots are best.
Find the drop-off, and motor along or around the structure at that
depth. Fish that hold on the inside turns and points can be drawn
with the plotter function on your GPS screen. Or, use E-Z Wind Marker Buoys
or put some glow in the dark tape on your markers to highlight these features.
Chart weed lines the same way. Watch your sonar screen to identify
changes in the bottom content, such as where boulders lay next to gravel
or sand bottom. Look for baitfish or marks that signal walleyes and
then use an underwater camera, like an Aqua-Vu, to confirm what species
of fish are there. Then enter the coordinates in your GPS to easily
find these targets later.
The following are a few tips to help make your night fishing experience
a successful one:
1. Lighting is critical. Carry commercial, 12-volt light fixtures,
lots of flashlights, and a Tazer to light up your glow in the dark tackle.
2. Keep your boat organized. You don’t want to be forced to maneuver
around an obstacle course in the dark.
3. Anchor upwind.
4. Use a simple slip-bobber rig with Thill Nite Brite lighted floats.
They now come in three different colors so you can easily tell which rod
is seeing the action.
5. Use 7 to 8 foot limber, graphite rods, like St. Croix’s ES70MLF,
to help take up slack, cast further, and to improve hooksets.
6. Use spinning reels with 6-pound test line to increase bait action.
7. Use only enough split shot to balance the float to detect any movement.
Keep the lead shot up about 18 inches from the hook so the bait can cover
8. Cover the spot efficiently and allow the floats to drift over the
structure. If no luck, then move the anchor rope from the cleat to
the bow to move the boat to a new position and fish that area. Repeat
by moving the rope to the cleat on the other side
9. Try casting crankbaits or jigs over the structure using spinning
equipment. It’s easier than dealing with backlashes from baitcasting
reels in the dark. Try using fluorescent line, like Stren’s original
clear blue, and a black light to keep track of your lure and watch the
line for strikes.
10. Try trolling shallow running crankbaits using the bow-mounted electric
motor. Cover points from the shoreline to deep water and pump the
rod to impart the look of a dying minnow.
11. Keep your lure at or 1 to 3 feet off the bottom. Set the hook at
the slightest “tick.”
12. Long-line your crankbaits right behind the boat. Planer boards
or snap-on weights between you and the fish may stop you from feeling light-biters.
13. Experiment by adding prism or glow in the dark tape. Try sound,
14. Keep moving until you find walleyes.
15. Make sure your boat has all the required navigation lights. Use
a high-intensity spotlight to search for dark boats in your path.
Have a marine band radio, life vests, and all other approved Coast Guard
safety equipment on board.
Night-fishing is a great way to catch more walleyes far from the maddening
crowds of sun worshipers. But, do it safely and in a way that will
increase your odds for success.
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