Night fishing is a popular topic among all anglers but when it comes to catfishing there is even more interest in night fishing than there is any other species of freshwater fish. There is also a lot of misunderstanding and bad information surrounding night fishing and catfishing.
Starting in about March my phone starts ringing off the hook with people who want to fish with me or get information on booking fishing trips. After these people get some of their basic inquiries out of the way regarding cost and other pertinent details the next thing that often gets asked is “what time do you start fishing”. When I respond “usually around first light” then they immediate respond with a rather shocked tone, “you mean you aren’t night fishing, I thought you had to go night fishing to catch catfish?”
There was a point and time many years ago in my fishing endeavors that I too though that to truly catch good numbers of catfish, you had to fish at night.
Night Fishing Fact and Fiction
There is no doubt that the image of a guy sitting in a boat or on the shore fishing next to the light of coleman lantern waiting on a catfish to come along is one that many people think of when it comes to catfishing. The truth is though that in many instances night fishing has more to do with the angler than it does the actual ability to catch catfish.
Fishing during the day in the heat of the summer can be brutally hot if not approached correctly (see stay cool for summer fishing) but can also be incredibly productive, and is preferred by many catfish anglers. There is a large group of anglers also that never fish outside of the cover of darkness, and know nothing but night fishing (and they are really missing out).
Night Fishing Disadvantages:
- More cumbersome to fish at night due to lack of light (though there are some ways to help with this)
- If you have inexperienced people with you it can be even more challenging
- More difficult to navigate a boat in the dark, regardless of how well you know the body of water
- There are very simple catfishing techniques that are incredible productive that night fishing eliminates.
- BUGS. I’ll never forget the first time I ever fished at Lake Fairfield here in Texas, Skeeter’s the size of hummingbirds.
Night Fishing Advantages:
- The clear and obvious advantage is being much cooler at night than during the day in the summer months
- On busy lakes or rivers there are few fewer boats on the water, and rarely any jet ski’s
- The wind usually lays down at night so it is generally much more calm.
For years when I was going to be catfishing in the summer I would head out a few hours before dark and it was common for me to head back home in the daylight the next day. A 12 hour night on the water rod and reel fishing, jug fishing or running trotlines or limb lines was nothing for me. As I have evolved as a fisherman I have found that I spend less and less time night fishing and prefer to fish in the day.
Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a good night fishing for flathead catfish (or any other species) for that matter but I love running across the lake at the crack of dawn. Again, as I stated before there are also a number of patterns that produce really well for channel catfish and blue catfish during the day that become impossible at night.
I have some theories about night fishing and some of these myths but they are pretty long winded, so I think I well save them for a future episode of Catfishing Radio.
Myth: You have to fish at night to catch catfish.
Fact: Catfish feed during all hours of the day. The thought that you have to fish at night is nothing more than years and years of people passing along bad information. Catfishing during the day is incredibly productive and in some instances can even be more productive that fishing at night.
Myth: Catfish are more active at night.
Fact: Catfish are active at all hours of the day and night, and this includes all three species of catfish. Catfish can easily be caught at all hours of the day regardless of season. They feed at all hours of the day and at night also. Catfish eat when they are hungry, not when it gets dark.
Myth: If you want to catch flathead catfish, you have to fish at night.
Fact: Flathead catfish can be caught during the day or at night. For years it was believed that flathead catfish could only be caught at night. While there is no debating that fishing at night for flathead is or at least can be incredibly productive, they can be caught during the day also. It’s not uncommon for flatheads to be caught during all hours, light or dark. There is a growing group of anglers that target monster flatheads that fish exclusively during the day also.
Myth: Catfish are attracted to light
Fact: There are a variety of products being sold online that target catfish anglers that are lights. Much of these super secretive lights are nothing more than a ploy to catch fishermen and have little to do with actually attracting catfish. Night fishing with lights in or shining on the water is a pretty common practice for many species of fish. The lights draw in bugs and bait fish and that in turns can draw in fish. However, my experience has been that catfish prefer to be away from lights. There is a wealth if information to support this and some easy tricks you can do to learn on your own. I’ll get around to covering these one of these days. If you’re fishing around lights your best bet is to stay back away or well below them and you can expect to catch more fish.
Myth: Catfish move shallow at night
Fact: While some catfish will feed in shallow water at night they will be there during the day also. Catfish don’t all flock to the shallow water at night. There is a common misconception when people say that the fish are in shallow water, or the fish are in deep water, that means that all the fish will be there. While it’s true that during certain times, seasons or weather patterns many fish can move into a certain depth not all the fish will do so. Just because fish are in a certain pattern or depth never means all the fish will be in that pattern or depth.
Night Fishing Is Great But…
If you want to “beat the heat” and enjoy the boats and jet skis on the water then night fishing can be a great way to do so and is a great way to get out and catch catfish. Don’t dismiss fishing during the day however. If you ignore the daylight hours and brave the heat you might be surprised at what you find, and what you catch.
In the future we will be adding additional articles and information on night fishing, so make sure you check back for some excellent tips, tricks and information to help you along the way.