The great majority of salt-water anglers go out during the daytime and rarely venture forth at night. But today more and more anglers are discovering that plenty of fish and good sport can also be had at night. In fact, if you are interested in big fish which are found near shore, your chances are much better fishing at night than during the daytime.
But night fishing in salt water offers many other advantages besides that of catching big fish. There are fewer anglers and less competition, so you have more elbow room. You don't have to worry about sunburn, and often during the summer the wind dies at sundown, so the water is usually calmer at night than during the middle of the day - an important point to consider if you are subject to seasickness.
Also, during the summer months it is cooler at the seashore or on the water at night. Finally, you can fool the fish easier at night than during the day. They can't see the hook, leader or line, and they can't examine a lure too closely.
Night fishing in the surf is almost a must in highly populated areas, especially from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In many areas, most surf anglers are forced to fish at night in the summer. During the daytime there are too many bathers and they chase the surf anglers away from the best spots.
Luckily, in the case of the striped bass, this isn't such a hardship. Since they bite best at night during the summer months most anglers I know don't bother going out until well after dark. Then they usually fish hard until the early morning hours or even until daybreak.
Novice surf anglers or those who have never done much night fishing often wonder how it is possible to locate, hook and land fish in the surf on a dark night. Many have asked me such questions as the following: How do you know where to fish? How can you cast at night? How do you land the fish?
It's true that problems and conditions which are easily coped with during the daytime are often more difficult on a dark night. Yet it's surprising how soon you become used to casting, hooking and landing fish at night and enjoying it as much or even more than during the daytime.
The big question that arises with respect to surf fishing at night is how to locate the fish. If you are lucky enough to have a friend who can tip you off, that's a big help. Tackle dealers and outdoors columns in newspapers often tell you the general area to fish. Actually, no one can predict in advance which specific spots will produce a temperamental fish such as the striped bass, because they move around too much and bite best under conditions which change from day to day.
At night there are no birds to guide you, but if you see birds or fish feeding off the beach during the daytime there is a good chance that they will work inshore at dusk or after dark. Schools of bait fish will often lie off the beach during the day, but at night they tend to work inshore to escape the game fish, and, of course, the game fish will often follow them in. If you arrive after dark you can pick up the bait fish in your light when they are hugging the shoreline.
Try some night fishing, and you may come to enjoy it better than fishing by day!