Get hooked on night fishing
We’re all used to seeing anglers out on the towpaths and banks of our canals and rivers making the most of the daylight hours. However, when the sun goes down not all anglers make their way home, and there are large rewards for those who venture out after dark for a spot of night fishing.
The key to night fishing is preparation - knowing what you're going to do when you catch a fish, where all your kit is and how to use it effectively in the dark.”
Size does matter with night fishing and it’s after dark when all of the big fish come out to play. Big fish have managed to become big by being cunning. Although their predators may be more of a threat, by coming out at night they can feed more confidently. Fish feel rather than hear and with bank side disturbance at a minimum, they believe they can ‘feel’ danger sneaking up on them.
This makes night fishing a prime opportunity for the thousands of specimen fishers out there searching for a whopper. Specimen fishing has really grown in popularity over the past 10 years and most specimen fishers will be after a particular species of fish, predominantly carp and sometimes pike, eel and catfish.
The rules for catching fish are pretty much the same as they would be in the daytime - with a few extra safety precautions thrown in. Torches are vital, as are warm clothes, a first aid kit and a mobile phone. A bite alarm is a popular option for those who are likely to nod off, which gives off an audible and visual alarm when a fish has taken the bait. Many anglers use a bivvy bag (man-sized waterproof sack) and do nap throughout the night safe in the knowledge that if a nice chunky fish does bite, their alarm will startle them out of sleep.
Always be prepared
Preparation and organisation play a big part in night fishing. Those anglers who scatter their equipment far and wide will need to rein it in or spend all of their evening endlessly searching for things, while their more organised counterparts sit back and relax with a cold beer. Elton Murphy of website, anglersnet.co.uk says: “The key to night fishing, really, is preparation - knowing what you're going to do when you catch a fish, where all your kit is and how to use it effectively in the dark. Once you've done it a few times, it's no different to daytime fishing.”
The darkness also presents extra dangers, although a sensible approach can negate them, as Elton explains: “Fish somewhere safe, be prepared and, if possible, fish with somebody else. Turn up nice and early and get everything ready in daylight. Once your tackle is all sorted, your shelter set up and your kettle boiling, you'll feel confident. Confidence makes you fish better and you'll enjoy the whole thing more.”
It’s all about the night life
So apart from getting away from the wife and kids and catching the odd big fish, what’s the attraction of sitting by a cold, damp, lonely canal or river all night at the mercy of the elements?
“Speaking as a bloke, and aside from the fact that some fish prefer to feed at night, night fishing combines two of a boy's favourite things - fishing and camping! At times, the camping is just as important as the fishing,” reveals Elton.
Carl Nicholls, Fisheries & Angling Manager for British Waterways is in agreement that night fishing can be as much about the social side of things as the actual fish and says: “Although angling can be a solitary hobby, it can very social and many anglers who fish at night, do so in pairs or small groups. Sometimes it’s just about getting together with your mates, enjoying the outdoor environment and eating and drinking in the fresh air. If they catch a fish, then it’s a bonus.
“There’s a great feeling watching the sunset and then watching it rise again the next morning. Along with this you get to see the changing seasons and see many forms of wildlife that most people rarely if ever see. Generally anglers are quiet in their pursuit of the big fish and this also enhances the opportunities of the animals and wildlife they see.”
With clear summer nights and warmer temperatures on the way it’s the perfect time to try out night fishing for the first time. Always use common sense to stay safe, and the nocturnal delights of the canals and rivers could get you hooked this summer.