Article contributed by Field Staff Writer K. Slye.
Here in western Pennsylvania spring is giving way to summer, and as the temperatures start to creep up, I find myself switching gears. The trout streams have become low and slow and I’ve had to put away my chest waders and noodle rod, but that doesn’t mean I’m done fishing.
As the season changes, my quarry and methods of chase have changed as well. Instead of drifting a salmon egg under a float through the ripples of a stream, I grab the Someday Isle jig from my tackle bag, head to the lake and hop in a boat. There is a small lake in my area that I have fished many times from shore, with very limited success. I had all but given up on this particular fishery, until my friend invited me for some night fishing. This opened up a whole new way of fishing for me. We now make it a point to go out several times throughout the summer, and have enjoyed success on many of these trips.
We usually set out just before sunset, in a small row boat with two to three lanterns positioned over the side, facing the water. The lanterns create a food chain of sorts, drawing in the bugs, which end up on the surface of the water, attracting bait fish, which entice the various species of game fish we are hoping end up in the boat. We typically use light spinning tackle, a jig or single hook, with a jig body or a piece of night crawler, and a split shot or two above it. The temperature of the water determines the depth that we fish. When the fish hit, it is not subtle, and with room to run they always put up a good fight.
The glow of the lanterns, a couple yard lights off in the distance, and the stars above are the few sources of light. The eerie silence is disturbed only by a beaver slapping its tail on the surface of the water or the splash in the distance from a fish leaping for its dinner. We fish until 1 or 2 in the morning, or until we get too tired to keep our eyes open, but if the fish are biting that’s not a problem.
If not on the lake, you may find me at the tail waters of a local dam, watching the sun slowly sink behind the hillside, as I cast a lure into the river in hopes of hooking into a walleye or two. It’s always a mystery what will bite when casting into these black waters. Everything ranging from trophy sized brown trout, to bass, walleye, northern pike, and muskie can be pulled from the depths. I’ve had moderate success, but I’m still waiting for that monster that I know is lurking in the darkness. I’m still experimenting with different lures and presentations, trying to figure out what is the best set up that will produce the most success.
Don’t let the changing seasons and conditions keep you from enjoying the great outdoors. Adjust your tactics, try something new, you could find your new favorite thing. Night fishing is a different aspect of the outdoors that I’ve discovered and come to love. Sitting on that quiet lake, or casting from the riverbank on a Friday night is much more of an adventure than being at some loud, over-crowded bar, throw in catching some fish and there’s not too many other places I’d rather be.