Saltwater Fishing at Night – Best Tips and Tricks

Madison Rogers

April 26, 2023


The sun has set, the temperature has dropped, and the serene atmosphere by the sea offers a perfect chance for anglers to reach for their fishing rods and prepare their baits. Saltwater fishing at night is an adventure for both seasoned fishermen and beginners. Since numerous species are more active at night time, you can bet that you’ll be proud of your catch of the night. I will let you in on the perfect strategies that will enable you to be incredibly successful. So, let’s dive in.

Let’s Begin by Introducing Night Fishing to All Fishermen – What Is It and Why Does It Work?

Experienced fishermen know the secret. When the temperatures drop, the fishes move to the shallows to feed. This is it. The time of day makes a huge impact on whether you’ll be coming home with a cooler filled to the brim with different species of fish or a cooler filled only with a couple of fish.

Night fishing in saltwater has been known to bring more success than fishing during the day. Saltwater fishing at night is considered to take place an hour after the sun sets, and it lasts approximately an hour before sunrise.

Fishing Places Are Not Under a Lot of Pressure

What drives the fish away from the shallow water? Noisy boaters and numerous fishermen casting their baits. This is what creates commotion and pressure that the fishes can sense, leading them to swim deeper into oceans and bays during the day. However, the peaceful atmosphere at night and the cool temperatures lure the fish into the shallows, making them ideal prey.

When It’s Dark, the Fishes Feel Like They Have Cover

During the night, the fish cannot see very well, which makes them feel more safe knowing that other species won’t notice them as well. This is why you will see fishermen returning home with species that are known to swim in the deep sea. Fishes come to the shallow waters when they have a sense they are less threatened. So, prepare your baits since you will literally have a bigger fish to fry if you go night fishing.

A man holding a large salmon
It’s possible that you will catch a big fish when you go fishing at night

Why Do You Absolutely Have to Try Saltwater Fishing at Night?

Apart from the different fish behavior and an opportunity to reel in a huge catch, there are numerous reasons why you will get hooked on the experience. First of all, angling at night can offer a tranquil and serene environment away from the stress of the day. It’s the best way to unwind.

Furthermore, during the summertime, you will avoid the sweltering heat. Even though you are next to a body of water, the high temperatures would drain you completely, and you can suffer from heat exhaustion or sunstroke. Cool temperatures at night are just what you need during summer.

Finally, the feeling of excitement and adventure is accentuated during the dark. With low visibility, fishermen are in for a surprise. They can never suspect what kind of thrill awaits them and what they will reel in.

A man fishing at night
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to go on a fishing adventure

Have You Already Tried Freshwater Fishing? Well, Saltwater Fishing Is a Bit Different

Some people who have already cast their baits into freshwater bodies during the night believe that saltwater fishing is the same thing; however, they are completely mistaken.

Apart from the fact that saltwater fishing takes place in saltwater bodies like saltwater lakes, oceans, and seas, you will target stronger and larger fish, such as:

  • Snapper,
  • Marlin,
  • Sailfish,
  • And tuna.

That means that specialized fishing techniques and equipment are needed.

During freshwater fishing, you will need lighter equipment for:

  • Trout,
  • Catfish,
  • Bass,
  • And crappie.

Choose a Type of Saltwater Night Fishing You’d Have The Most Success At

Before you take your equipment and head to the spot you always go fishing, let me introduce you to different types of night fishing. Some techniques and methods you can use will yield a different result. Sometimes we tend to stick to practices we are most familiar with. However, if you try different strategies and types of night fishing, you’ll realize what you can change in your approach.

Fishing From a Pier

Do you lack a boat to sail to the open waters? Don’t worry because saltwater pier fishing at night is an excellent alternative. Choose piers that you can easily access and that have lights. This is very important since fishes are attracted to light. Along with cut or live bait such as shrimp or worms, you will be successful at reeling in redfish, tarpon, and snook.

Bowfishing During Night

A completely thrilling experience is bowfishing at night. When fish come into the shallow water, fishermen can light them up and shoot them with an arrow and a bow. Of course, there is a reel that is attached to your bow, so you don’t lose your catch. With the fishing reel, one can retrieve the catch and place it in a net or cooler. This style of fishing is already seasoned by anglers.

Fishing In Coastal Waters

If you think that bow fishing is too action-packed for you, fishing in coastal waters in the dark is better. You can approach the water and fish from a flat and secure land. If you are in a new location, it will be easy to settle everything. The advantage of this type of fishing is that when you cast your line, it will not get tangled up in some weed or structure.

Targeting the Fish – What Are the Top Targets During Saltwater Night Fishing?

First, try the easier targets. If you attempt to catch an inshore fish, such as a snook, you won’t have any issues since this species is the top target. They are attracted to bridge lights and dock lights, so they are most sought after by anglers.

Flounder, speckled trout, and redfish are the top catch along the Gulf Coast in the United States. Some fishermen are successful at catching tarpon as well. Since sharks hunt at night, they are popular targets.

Anglers that will fish along the East Coast will have the opportunity to catch striped bass. However, if you make an effort to go to reefs and open oceans, you will have the opportunity to snap photos of trophy fish such as snappers, grouper, billfish, and sharks.

Close-up photo of snapper fish
If you want to catch a snapper fish, you’ll have more luck when it’s dark

The First Tip to Pay Attention to Is Choosing the Right Location

Before taking your gear to your fishing spot during the night, you need to go and check it out while it’s still light outside. Choose the time when there is no tide so you can get a general idea of how the seabed looks. Inspect whether there are any weed beds, rocks, and sandbars.

Don’t underestimate good preparation since this will allow you to avoid any hazardous locations. I would recommend that it’s best to set up your base right above the mark for high tide. See where the debris and the tide lines on the beach are so you see where the high tide reaches.

What you should aim for is a safe spot where you can take shelter in case the weather unexpectedly changes, and the big waves start rolling.

A Useful Trick Is to Always Illuminate the Surroundings

Even though it’s more romantic and peaceful when you are in complete darkness, during fishing, you will need to illuminate the surroundings. It’s best to have a fuel-powered lamp that can also serve as a source of heat. The only problem is that they must not be knocked over. Make sure that you use them cautiously. Another option is to use headlamps. LEDs can replace light bulbs and can provide lighting for a long time. They are instrumental when handling your equipment because you can get a hook stuck to your finger or entangle your line if you cannot see well.

Difficulty Spotting the Bite – A Solution Comes in the Form of Fishing Glow Sticks

Even though we can do everything in our power to illuminate the surroundings, it’s sometimes hard to see properly in the dark. I have a perfect solution – a fishing glow stick needs to be added to the rod. You can buy them in packs and one is enough to provide light for the entire night. Another hack that is very popular among anglers is wrapping the tip of the fishing rod with reflective tape. Without mistake, any suspicious movement will be noticed right away.

A lamp in the dark
There won’t be any problems spotting the bite if you have glow sticks by your side

Don’t Attempt Saltwater Fishing When You Are Exhausted – Be Alert and Stay Warm

The biggest mistake you can make is showing up to your fishing location and realizing that you haven’t prepared for the task seriously. Not sleeping throughout the night or drinking alcohol before taking on this adventure is what should be avoided at all costs.

Ensure that you stay warm by layering clothes. Don’t wear thick clothing materials but opt for various thinner layers. It’s wise to carry a thermos with hot drinks and a container with food. Even though there won’t be any sunshine, you should bring a hat or a cap.

Man pouring food from a thermos into a cup
Stay energized and alert by eating, drinking, and wearing proper clothing

The Right Bait Is Always Needed – You Won’t Miss With Shrimp, Dead or Alive

Shrimp is the perfect bait that can attract almost any game fish in the saltwater bays. You won’t make a mistake if you prepare shrimp for your next fishing trip. In case you want to catch a particular species, you can try different baits such as squid, mullet, croaker, and ribbon fish. These are the greatest saltwater baits.

However, if you are just starting out with this practice, shrimp will be an ideal bait. Don’t worry about the different hooks you can use because any type you use during the day would work at night time as well. You can even make a hook by yourself.

Person holding a shrimp
Try different baits such as squid, mullet, or croaker, but the absolute best is shrimp

If You Want to Use a Lure, Choose Something That Looks Natural

Fishermen who don’t want to use live or dead bait can target a lot of species with lures that look natural or that resemble the bait target fishes prey on. Opting for lures that glow in the dark is also a good option since they will produce light which draws the attention of the fish. I recommend that you use underwater green fishing lights and lures that glow in the dark since this combination will be more effective.

Consider the Right Size and Shape of Your Lures

After sunset, the fish have a more acute sense of vibrations and movement around them. You need to have a great lure that will imitate the bait. It’s best to use a lure that has a shape and size that is identical to the baitfish that swims in the waters you are fishing in. So, if you want to catch a herring, opt for flat crank or lipless bait.

Small fishes swimming
The chosen lures have to be the same size and shape as the baitfish

Finally, Always Check Weather Conditions and Tides Before Fishing

Knowing the weather conditions and the tides is necessary when going fishing at night in saltwater. Don’t forget to check the local weather forecast and the tide chart. Furthermore, the phase of the moon will have an impact on saltwater night fishing since, during a full moon, the fishes tend to feed more at night, while during a new moon, they are not as active. When the tide is falling or rising, some species may be more active, while others feed more during a slack tide.

Two men fishing
If you don’t check the forecast before fishing, you might run into problems and difficulties

Don’t Miss Out on an Opportunity to Catch Fish at Night

The rewarding and exhilarating experience when you have a cooler full of fish before sunrise is a dream come true for every angler. With the right techniques and strategies, as well as baits and lures, success is guaranteed. All you need to do is prepare for your trip during the day so that when the visibility is low, you don’t encounter any issues. Have a great night fishing trip!