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Fly Fishing at Night & Not Getting Bit in the Face

“Things that go bump in the night” is hardly a frightening phrase in the context of fly fishing.

The bump is precisely what you’re looking for. A fish eating your fly, responding out of the darkness, is the whole point. It isn’t as though fishing at night is the same as, say, ophiology at night. Identifying snakes in the dark is a bad idea. For one, you can recite “red to black, friend to Jack” until you’re blue in the face… because you didn’t see it was actually a venomous coral snake the whole time, and it had been biting your face. But I digress.

So, are you scared of fly fishing at night?

(Maybe you weren’t before, but you are now, knowing that you could get bit in the face by a coral snake.)

Here are some benefits:

  • You get to go fishing.
  • Fish feed at night.
  • There are fewer people fishing at night.
  • Chances are that your children and your job don’t require your attention at night.*

*Don’t leave your children alone. That is what your spouse is for.**

**This isn’t to say that your spouse doesn’t require your attention. Bring her some ice cream.

  • Fishing? In the dark? What an adventure!
  • Fishing at night ups the element of surprise, intrigue, etc. that is already inherent in fishing.

That last one is where the whole “bump in the night” thing comes into play. Now, I’m no psychologist. What I do know is that there is some sort of synapse-response that happens in that instant when you feel a fish hit. A moment later you might realize that the fish is small, but for a split-second there was just a release of endorphins because of your success.

At night, when everything that is the same is just a little different, that response is a little bigger and lasts a little longer. Maybe it is the quiet of the evening or the darkness of the water, but the sensation of something unknown (even if you know it is probably a bluegill or brown trout) is exacerbated.

Again: not a scientist. However, there is something to be said for your other senses being utilized in a more acute manner. I’m sure that there are all sorts of fly fishing techniques and observations that one can make while angling in the dark. You trust your ears and hands more than your eyes, which means that you realize the importance of these senses, etc. etc. etc.

The bottom line is that it is a great experience. Fly fishing at night is not what everyone usually does. It isn’t what you normally do. It does feel a bit adventurous. There might be a little bit of a “mayflies in your tummy” feeling if you hear a noise in the bushes. But when do we get to experience those things on a normal, daily basis?

You want to be safe. You want to go someplace you are already familiar with. You want to bring a headlamp. You want to make sure you know how to suck coral snake venom out of your own face. You want to be smart, but once all of that is in place you get to fish but fish differently.

Even if it is just an hour of chasing sunfish after sunset in a neighborhood pond, give it a whirl if you haven’t done it before. Want some great techniques? Check out this classic book, Night Fishing for Trout, by Jim Bashline. George Daniel’s Strip Set has some excellent content about calling up big trout at night, too. Hey, I even know of a great article about the subject. There are lots of resources out there to maximize your time on the water at night. But the bottom line is that it is just fishing… a little differently.

So get out there. Sometimes, the late bird gets the worm.

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