NIGHTTIME SALTWATER FISHING BEATS THE HEAT

It’s hot and the fish have all moved to deeper and cooler water. What’s a fisherman to do? One option is grinding the reefs and jetties with lures or live bait and hopefully pick up a fish or two. Another good idea would be fishing the high tides early or late in the day (when you can get off work and when the tides happen to fall at these times). Wait a minute, I’ve got it, what about fishing at night? Texas Saltwater Fishing ReportNot only do you not have to worry about getting off work (in most cases), but the fish are more accessible since the temperatures are cooler. In the past several years, night fishing has become a very popular method of catching good numbers of fish along the Texas coast. And, if you have something against using live bait, there are situations where lures work just as well. My favorite type of night fishing is similar to the techniques used for hunting trophy trout during the fall and winter. Wading a shallow flat, with easy deep water access, while using a big noisy topwater plug, is a great way of catching some quality fish without cooking them or yourself in the hot summer sun. There is an important aspect to this type of fishing that you need to consider before heading off for your nighttime wading. First of all, it’s going to be dark. Even on a full moon, there’s not enough light to be retying your lure every five minutes, or every five casts whichever comes first. Secondly, it’s not a good idea to head out onto a flat you know nothing about in the middle of the night. Before I wade an area at night I always take the time to walk it or at least check it out during the day. This type of preparation will keep you from walking into an unseen object or deep hole during your night visit. If you don’t have this option, at least wear a life jacket, just in case. Topwater plugs at night should be noisy enough for a trophy trout or redfish to locate and zero in on. Lures such as Rebel’s Jumpin’ Minnow, Storm’s ThunderMac, and Lure Jensen’s Peacock Bass lures are all excellent examples of what you should use. Work the bait fairly slow, but remember that it must make a commotion on the surface in order for the fish to locate their next meal. One trick I’ve learned, after having lost several trophy fish doing this type of fishing, about using topwater plugs at night is to resist, with all your might, setting the hook to soon. Nine times out of ten, if you do this, the fish will not have a good hold on the bait and you’ll take it away from him. Wait until you feel pressure on the line then lift up your rod while steadily increasing the pressure, don’t try to break his back. When you feel the fish begin to fight, set the hook, he’s all yours. Another popular nighttime technique, used by those who want to stay dry, is done from the beach, jetties, or any other easily accessed area. Fishing under lights can be both exciting and productive. The lights attract the bait, the bait attracts the game fish, which in turn end up on some lucky anglers dinner plate. The equipment required for this type of fishing can be expensive and, at its lightest, somewhat *****bersome to transport. A set of high powered lights, a stand to keep the lights high off the water, and a generator for power are the tools of the trade for the angler who frequently participates in this type of fishing. Because of the weight and bulk of this equipment, it is important to find a spot where the ground is level and you can drive within a few feet of the location. The most consistent lures for working lights from the shoreline are shad and shrimptails. The shadtails, especially have an action that attracts fish, even at night. Small topwater plugs also catch their fair share, but larger lures, such as those used by waders without lights, don’t seem to work as well. New fishermen to this type of night fishing have a tendency to cast their baits into the center of the lights. This is not where you’ll catch most of the fish. Instead, try casting your lures or bait just outside the edge of the light and working it back toward the center. Game fish such as speckled trout will hang in the dark, darting into the light to grab a meal, and back into the dark where they feel more secure. SURPRISE! Using lights has also become very popular among boat owners. On any given night, during the summer months, the Galveston Jetties are lined with, what appears to be, little floating fireflies. These fishermen are working areas close to deep water or structure in much the same way as their land locked counterparts. The lights draw the bait which in turn attract the fish. The biggest difference here is that most boat anglers, who fish at night, will be using live bait. The reason? Since shore bound anglers are fishing shallower waters, the use of lures is common when fishing under the lights. However, fishing over the deeper water of the ship channel or around the jetties is slightly different. Here, instead of roaming the outside edges of the lights, the fish have a tendency to stay deep. They come up from under the bait, grab a bite and head back into the depths. And, because the light may not penetrate to the desired depth, a combination of light and live bait seems to work best. The interesting thing is that many nighttime boat fishermen don’t buy bait. They arrive at their favorite spot, turn on the lights, and wait for the bait to begin swimming around the boat. All that remains is to grab a dip net, scoop up a bait, put it on the hook, and proceed to fish. One problem that plagued boat owners, who wanted to fish at night, for years was the noise and excessive vibrations put out by powerful generators. This is no longer a problem. There are several lights available that run off of 12 volt batteries. DO NOT use your starter battery to run these light. No matter how little voltage they claim to draw, finding out you don’t have enough current to start your motor after a nights fishing off the jetties is not a fun situation.

– Texas Saltwater Fishing Guide

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