Perhaps the biggest breakthrough in muskie fishing in recent years is the discovery that the fish (in certain waters) feed aggressively after dark.
Most pike fishermen consider night fishing a waste of time. That sentiment is still shared by some muskie anglers. But night fishing for muskies is rapidly gaining in popularity, especially among anglers on water that see heavy recreational use. There, the incessant boat traffic slows daytime feeding activity, it limits the areas you can fish and makes boat control more difficult.
Night fishermen also catch a few tiger muskies, but these pike-muskie hybrids are not as prone to night feeding as purebred muskies.
In order for muskies to see well enough to feed at night, the water must be fairly clear. As a rule, the clarity should be at least 3 feet- the best night-fishing lakes have a clarity at least twice that.
The top night-fishing lakes have another important feature: lots of shallow, weedy flats or rock bars that serve as nighttime feeding areas. In lakes with a sharp-sloping shoreline, the fish usually feed during the day, so night fishing is less effective.
Night fishing kicks into high gear in midsummer and fast action continues into early fall. The fish are most active in hot, muggy weather- especially on nights when the water is calm.
If you’re planning on night fishing on an unfamiliar body of water, be sure to scout it thoroughly during the day. In fact, it’s a good idea to do some preliminary scouting even on familiar waters. This way, you can mark some likely spots so you can find them more easily after dark.
If you have no idea of where to start looking for nighttime muskies, focus on the same spots where you normally find them during the day, but fish shallower. How much shallower depends on the water clarity. As a rule, the clearer the water, the more reluctant the fish will be to swim into the shallows.
More Tips for Nighttime Fishing
- Set markers on your prime spots during daylight hours and then use a powerful spotlight to locate them after dark.
- Use a battery powered headlamp to help you see follows and land your fish. A brighter light may spook any fish following your lure.
- Arrange your equipment neatly to avoid unnecessary tangles or accidents. Keep an extra rod handy just in case problems arise.
- If possible, start fishing weedy flats, points or rock bars close to the west shore of the lake. These spots fall under shadow before similar spots on the east shore, so any fish using them are likely to turn on earlier.
Check out these resources for more muskie night fishing info: