Anglers who specialize in catching trophy brown trout know that the fish are much less cautious after dark. Instead of holing up in heavy cover, as they normally do during the day, they move into riffles and onto shallow flats where they feed aggressively. Other kinds of trout may feed after dark from time to time, but none are as active at night as the brown.
Night fishing is most productive in summer, when daytime water temperatures are above 70°F. At that time the water is normally low and clear and the fish are extra wary during the day. Trout are even more prone to night feeding in streams that are heavily fished.
Before stumbling over rocks and logs or plowing through head-high nettles to reach a stream after dark, do some scouting in daylight to find the best path down to the water. Study each spot you plan to fish and form a mental map of the bottom. Also take note of any branches or other obstacles that may interfere with your casting.
Most standard big-trout lures will work for night fishing, but remember that the fish are likely to be in shallow water. Instead of a sinking minnowbait, for example, you’ll probably want to use a floater. Fly fishermen often use large, bushy dry flies that imitate mice or frogs.
Because the fish are so aggressive after dark, live bait is seldom necessary. Nor does your presentation have to be as delicate. During the day, a fly or other lure splashing down on the water will send the trout scurrying for cover; but at night, the sound may attract them.
It’s a good idea to use heavier-than-normal lines and leaders at night. The fish are not as line-shy as they are during the day, so you’ll get just as many strikes but you’ll lose fewer fish because of break-offs. Should you hang up in the brush while casting, a sharp jerk will usually free your lure.
Use a gooseneck light that clips to your vest, for tying knots and unhooking fish after dark (see photo 2).
A light-colored fly is much easier to see at night than a dark one. The exact color is usually not important to the fish because all they see is the silhouette.
Other Tips for Catching Trophy Trout
Tie a large streamer upside down when fishing in heavy cover. The upturned hook is much less likely to snag, and the wing acts as a brush guard.
Let the current carry your spinner or spoon beneath an undercut bank or crib shelter. Cast upstream of the undercut, tighten your line and allow the lure swing under the bank.