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The Five Best Tips for Kayak Fishing at Night

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

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Have you ever gone fishing at nighttime? Fishing at night can be a good strategy to catch big fish if you take the proper precautions and follow some simple tips to put yourself where the fish are biting. Fish, especially walleye, catfish, and bass, are often abundant and active at night. Also, the odds of catching a trophy fish improve drastically after sundown.

A kayak can be the perfect vessel for fishing at night. Kayaks allow you to maneuver into places you wouldn’t be able to get with a boat and they’re quiet on the water, so you won’t startle fish. Although fishing at night can be riskier than during the day, some of the best fishing can be done in the dark!

Safety First

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Safety is extra important when fishing at night. Vision and perception are often altered in the dark. These safety steps and precautions should be taken when planning to go kayak fishing at night:

  • Have a plan- Location, time, and gear should all be planned out before your excursion. Always make sure to check the weather forecast. Also, if it is your first-time kayak fishing at night, it’s wise to go somewhere familiar or somewhere you have fished in daylight to avoid obstacles and hazards.

  • Check local laws and fishing regulations- Laws and fishing regulations regarding kayaking at night vary by state. Many states require USCG-approved night VDS devices.

  • Always wear a PFD- A personal flotation device should always be carried on any fishing adventure, regardless of the time of day. When night fishing, the PFD should always be worn. Because of low visibility, there is a higher chance of emergency and needed rescue.

  • Bring a flashlight or headlamp- Lights and lamps are a must-have when fishing at night. Headlamps are a great hands-free option for max mobility. LED strip lights can also be used on the kayak.

  • Have a waterproof VHF radio and GPS- Having a waterproof VHF and GPS is a basic safety necessity when heading out on the water.

  • Add reflective tape- It is important to be visible during nighttime. Adding reflective tape to the kayak or on clothing or gear can be an added measure to stand out to those passing by.

  • Bring a friend- Fishing is always better with friends! Also, it is a lot safer than being alone, especially at night. If you do fish alone, make sure that someone is aware of your whereabouts and what time you expect to be home.

The Five Best Tips for Kayak Fishing at Night

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To have a successful nighttime kayak fishing journey, follow these tips:

1. Study the location- Go to the location you plan to fish at during the daytime and study it in the sunlight. It will help you know your surroundings, prime spots, easy entry points, etc. Seeing the area in the light will help you map out your nighttime fishing plans.

2. Target areas near light- Fish in areas with or near light, such as docks, bridges, and lighted sea walls. The fish will be attracted to the light sources at nighttime.

3. Stay organized- It is important to stay organized when kayak fishing at night. Pack light and smart. There is not a lot of room in the kayak and the last thing you want to do is search around for things in the dark and risk losing valuable items.

4. Invest in lighting- Have sufficient light sources or a 360-light array on your ‘yak. Investing in proper USCG-approved lighting is essential, especially if you plan on kayak fishing at night more than once.

5. Use the correct bait & tackle- Live bait typically works best for nighttime fishing. But fluorescent and bright color plastics also work well. If opting for lures, use heavy or vibrating lures to give you the best opportunity when kayak fishing at night. Topwater baits and spinnerbaits will get the job done. Move your bait consistently to help attract fish and it’s also a great idea to swap out your treble hooks for in-line hooks. They are much easier for fishing at night.

Kayak fishing at night can be safe and successful if you follow these tips. The best fishing usually occurs at least an hour after it gets dark. Go kayak fishing at night and hopefully you will catch a PB!


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