The Graveyard Shift

Night Fly Fishing for Striped Bass info from TGS

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1 hour ago, The Fisherman said:

 

Several years ago I wrote a piece for the now-defunct Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Journal titled "Ten Things You Should Know About Nighttime Fly Fishing For Big Trout." Much of it applies to stripers or night fishing in general. You can find it online if you do a search. :-)

 

Steve Culton

 

 

 

I have never tried night fishing for trout except fishing the beaches of Lake Ontario at night for browns and steelhead.  I will check out the article.  Unlike NY a lot of the trout rivers in MA allow night fishing on the trout streams so I may have to give this a shot.  When I lived in NY the Ontario tributaries are closed at night, but the actually beaches were legal.  So I never fished a river at night for trout.  Looking forward to readings your article.

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Gil

 

It is pretty much the same as day time fly fishing but the quality of the fishing can be very much better.

 

Obvious differences which make casting more difficult and it can be scary and day time recce makes a lot of sense.

 

No real mysteries to solve.

 

Mike

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On 2/18/2019 at 7:47 PM, 27conch said:

Bull Sharks like really warm water.  Not sure we would have them in NJ.  Never heard of them being here before.

 

TGS, here is the infamous rattle from you know who..4 BB's in a crack vial..

rattle.jpg

are you really from NJ or just young....serious attack back when before you were born by a bull

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Mike instead of sharks you have to be weary of the beavers - who knew! I also intend, along with salmon and steelhead this year, to try some night time fishing for big browns. It was a great article. A friend ties beautiful mouse flies. I am going to have to copy them for some big night time brown fishing. 

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TGS you inspired me to tie some of those eel flies. I am going to the Philadelphia Fishing Show today and going to get some Mega E-Z Body 1". I am going to tie mine with articulated shanks.

Keep this some stuff coming. We need to fill up a book on this subject.

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On 2/19/2019 at 7:11 PM, Mike Oliver said:

Gil

 

It is pretty much the same as day time fly fishing but the quality of the fishing can be very much better.

 

Obvious differences which make casting more difficult and it can be scary and day time recce makes a lot of sense.

 

No real mysteries to solve.

 

Mike

 

My own learnings on adjustment to night-

 

Parking is much harder

the chances of getting robbed much higher

your eyes adjust quicker than you think

striped bass fishing is almost always better

bluefish can be on or off. But around dawn they often take over

always carry two lights

if you have a good night that’s all good, but not good if you stay out too late and have work the next day

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, JohnP said:

 

My own learnings on adjustment to night-

 

Parking is much harder

the chances of getting robbed much higher

your eyes adjust quicker than you think

striped bass fishing is almost always better

bluefish can be on or off. But around dawn they often take over

always carry two lights

if you have a good night that’s all good, but not good if you stay out too late and have work the next day

 

 

 

2

Parking: Agreed.  Tickets are handed out freely if you park in the wrong area.  

Robbery: Agreed. Had several suspicious scenarios be careful the more urban the fishery is.

Sight: Agreed. You really don't need any type of artificial light most of the time to function.  

Striper Fishing is Better: Agreed with a caveat: When I first started trying to fly fish at night I did not do very well but it was mechanics based.  You don't realize how much you use your vision to adjust your casting during the daytime or your drift/presentation.  So the first five trips you should expect it to be frustrating as you learn to do things by feel instead of relying on your vision.  It can really shake your confidence but once you get past that learning curve you will find striper fishing is better in the dark not just for big fish but large numbers of smaller fish as well.

Bluefish: SUPER JEALOUS you catch them.  I have yet to catch one darn bluefish since moving to the great state of Massachusetts.  I never have actually attempted to target them, but I would have thought I would have at least blundered into one of them by now with how much I fish over a six-year period. Don't ask me for bluefish advice I have nothing of use I think I am cursed.

Two Lights: A MUST!

Staying Out: I agree to avoid that I started getting up early so I can only deprive myself of a set amount of sleep before I have to start the commute to Boston.

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10 mins ago, The Graveyard Shift said:

Parking: Agreed.  Tickets are handed out freely if you park in the wrong area.  

Robbery: Agreed. Had several suspicious scenarios be careful the more urban the fishery is.

Sight: Agreed. You really don't need any type of artificial light most of the time to function.  

Striper Fishing is Better: Agreed with a caveat: When I first started trying to fly fish at night I did not do very well but it was mechanics based.  You don't realize how much you use your vision to adjust your casting during the daytime or your drift/presentation.  So the first five trips you should expect it to be frustrating as you learn to do things by feel instead of relying on your vision.  It can really shake your confidence but once you get past that learning curve you will find striper fishing is better in the dark not just for big fish but large numbers of smaller fish as well.

Bluefish: SUPER JEALOUS you catch them.  I have yet to catch one darn bluefish since moving to the great state of Massachusetts.  I never have actually attempted to target them, but I would have thought I would have at least blundered into one of them by now with how much I fish over a six-year period. Don't ask me for bluefish advice I have nothing of use I think I am cursed.

Two Lights: A MUST!

Staying Out: I agree to avoid that I started getting up early so I can only deprive myself of a set amount of sleep before I have to start the commute to Boston.

Dan, we've gotta get you a yellow-eyed devil on the flyIMG_6294.JPG.27d53ca58b0527564725bc53f1823f48.JPG

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41 mins ago, BillyBallGame said:

Dan, we've gotta get you a yellow-eyed devil on the flyIMG_6294.JPG.27d53ca58b0527564725bc53f1823f48.JPG

OMG I would love to get a huge gator blue like that on a fly rod!!  That would make my season we will need to make this happen.

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1 hour ago, The Graveyard Shift said:

Parking: Agreed.  Tickets are handed out freely if you park in the wrong area.  

Robbery: Agreed. Had several suspicious scenarios be careful the more urban the fishery is.

Sight: Agreed. You really don't need any type of artificial light most of the time to function.  

Striper Fishing is Better: Agreed with a caveat: When I first started trying to fly fish at night I did not do very well but it was mechanics based.  You don't realize how much you use your vision to adjust your casting during the daytime or your drift/presentation.  So the first five trips you should expect it to be frustrating as you learn to do things by feel instead of relying on your vision.  It can really shake your confidence but once you get past that learning curve you will find striper fishing is better in the dark not just for big fish but large numbers of smaller fish as well.

Bluefish: SUPER JEALOUS you catch them.  I have yet to catch one darn bluefish since moving to the great state of Massachusetts.  I never have actually attempted to target them, but I would have thought I would have at least blundered into one of them by now with how much I fish over a six-year period. Don't ask me for bluefish advice I have nothing of use I think I am cursed.

Two Lights: A MUST!

Staying Out: I agree to avoid that I started getting up early so I can only deprive myself of a set amount of sleep before I have to start the commute to Boston.

 

 

The problem with fishing late at night when you have work the next day...

 

if the fishing js good, you are not leaving. You just are not, no matter how you promise yourself you’ll be in bed by 1am or whatever 

 

a couple times I was having such a good time, that faint glow to the east made it perfectly clear I had just enough time to get home for a shower before getting to work for the longest day ever 

 

if not work, the problem is getting home and trying to climb into bed, just as the kids bust into the room jumping on your stomach reminding you that you promised to take them to the beach.

Edited by JohnP

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4 hours ago, JohnP said:

 

 

The problem with fishing late at night when you have work the next day...

 

if the fishing js good, you are not leaving. You just are not, no matter how you promise yourself you’ll be in bed by 1am or whatever 

 

a couple times I was having such a good time, that faint glow to the east made it perfectly clear I had just enough time to get home for a shower before getting to work for the longest day ever 

 

if not work, the problem is getting home and trying to climb into bed, just as the kids bust into the room jumping on your stomach reminding you that you promised to take them to the beach.

Oh I agree its why I dont usually start fishing at 10pm.  I will end up just like you pulling an all nighter.

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1 hour ago, The Graveyard Shift said:

Oh I agree its why I dont usually start fishing at 10pm.  I will end up just like you pulling an all nighter.

 

All depends on the tides

many a night I’d set the alarm to go off at 1am for an early drop, or to catch the top of flood if it was a flood spot 

 

seriously I can’t wait til retirement when I can fish those crazy hours again 

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John

 

Retirement  is a funny state to be in. I am now 99% retired and it does not sit easily on the shoulders.

 

It is weird before retirement I am trying  every and which way to get out fishing. Juggling work and family.  Now I can go fishing almost whenever I want the edge has been taken off the need.

Night as in Midnight to 08:00 is brutal when work or family needs looms at 08:30. The frantic one more cast. The constant re calculations of how much time you can stay for. The plan to break down your rod as you walk back to the car. The fast walk that needs to break into a trot. The dead head and guilt start to wash over you. The promise of never to do it again floods your thinking.

 

Until the next good tide falls at midnight.

 

My part time job went west last August a great three nights a week jig most weeks. It fitted with life style and funded my trips to your side of the pond. It was blue collar unlike my back stabbing white collar career job in the corporate slime tank. 

I miss it and the contact it afforded to the outside world.

 

I feel lost now and confused.

 

oly

 

 

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On 2/13/2019 at 0:24 PM, The Graveyard Shift said:

GEAR: THE FULL RUNDOWN
1.    Fly rods: You can use 9-12 weight rods, either single hand or two hand style.
•    I like a 9-foot, single hand, 9-weight rod for flats and other shallow short game places (casts no longer than 45-50 feet with some 10 feet or less casts needed) like skinny salt ponds or brackish streams less than 3-feet deep.
•    I use 11-foot, 10 or 12 weight, two-handed rods designed for two-hand overhead casting pretty much everywhere else: beaches, inlets, large estuaries, bridge with room to cast, boulder fields, points, and steep rocky areas. In these areas 20-80 foot casts are required and a two-hand rod really helps me deliver large flies to those longer distances.  With the 10 weight, I am throwing 425-500 grain heads, and, on the 12 weight, I am throwing 600-700 grain heads.
•    If using a single-hand rod for beaches, inlets, large estuaries, or boulder fields, you need one that you can throw 9-12 inch flies or very heavy crab/lobster flies, so an 11 weight is a good starting point. Delivering those flies and having serious backbone, if you hook a 30 lb. fish, is key.
•    I use a 11’ 7 weight switch rod for salt marshes with lots of dense trees with no back cast room. For bridges or inlets with steep banks, I use a 12’6” 10 weight spey rod.
2.    Reels: Other than the Canal, a truly sealed drag system that has 20 lbs. of drag is what you should look for in a reel. At the Canal, you want 30 lbs. of drag and don’t really need a sealed drag, as you can keep from dunking reel.  My current reels are an Orvis VO2 and a Redington Behemoth.
3.    Lines & Leaders: I like Rio Outbound Short lines in floating for near/on surface presentations with the two-hand 10 weight rod.  I like Rio Outbound Short with a S6 head and intermediate running line for fishing near bottom on beaches, inlets, and estuaries with the two-hand 10 weight rod.  The Rio Striper Series has a longer head and a softer landing but still handles wind, so I use these lines on my 9 weight rod. On my 12 weight, I am currently using the Rio Levithan Sinking line at 700 grains to get down with big flies in deep fast current.  Leaders are simple: 3-4 feet of 20 lb. for 9 weight, 3-4 feet of 25 lb. for 10 weight, 4-5 feet of 40 lb. for my 12 weight.  During daylight, I use longer leaders. At night, I use short leaders unless I am nymphing and those are specifically constructed leaders for that purpose.
4.    Emergency inflatable pdf and single wading belt worn at all times. In the dark, you will not be aware rouge waves no matter how careful you are.  I DO NOT DEEP WADE, as I know great whites have been spotted where I fish, but I fish jetties and other areas where a rogue wave or large boat wake could put me in the water, so I have a life jacket on now at all times.  Another solution is a wetsuit, but that would tempt me to wade deep so I don’t have one.
5.    Waterproof head lamp and emergency around neck light are a must. Two good options are the Princeton Tec Remix Pro with red LEDs or the Princeton Tec EOS Tactical with red lens cover.  For a neck light, I have a small white light pelican on a lanyard which I have yet to use. It is purely a backup in case I lose my head lamp.
 
 
6.    Inexpensive plastic fish lipper for landing fish in dark will keep you from getting a 6/0 or larger hook through your hand. Schoolies are not dangerous, but a 20 lb. or bigger bass thrashing around can easily put your own hook through your hand.  I buy the Yak gear ones they are $10 and make landing big fish easy and safe.  If I drop or lose them it’s not a big financial loss like a Boga Grip would be. 
7.    Heavy duty baker tool for getting large hooks out of large bass mouths. The pliers I use are shorter with a lot of leverage so for any deep hook inside the mouth I reach to these tools.  They are also cheap hold up well and if lost not a huge burden financially to replace.
8.    Saltwater safe pliers with line cutting jaws. Cutting 20-40 lb. mono requires good cutters.  I want strong plies that are stronger than most forceps because I generally am using 3/0-8/0 hooks nothing smaller.
9.    Waterproof compass is kept in my surf sling in case fog comes in and I am out on a bar to keep from getting disoriented. This is a must have for safety.
10.    Gaia GPS or similar App on Phone is critical to my planning. During daylight, I recon all my spots and take pictures a super low tide.  I can store the pictures in the way point in the App.  So, when I am fishing at night I can reference the daylight picture of the structure.  I also keep any important notes about spot discoveries in the way point’s notes such as what tide provides sufficient water to bring fish into the structure.
11.    Waterproof cell phone or cell phone case is key. Your phone is going to get wet so make sure it won’t die when that happens.
12.    Clear lens glasses and sunglasses for sunrise (yellow/amber). Clear lenses exclusively at night and I use a yellow lens polarized pair for first light through 7 am (low light but substantial glare due to angle).  Yellow is not sufficient for bright light and the ocean so if fishing daylight trying to spot fish my preference is for red lens glasses.
13.    Korkers for rocky areas are a must. They keep me from falling on wet rocks that often get weeds on them.  I prefer the heavy-duty carbide spike soles, but there are many good options for sole configurations that will work.
 
14.    Mudders for muddy areas are a must at night. I had two very scary run-ins where areas that were primarily hard bottom had some soft spots and in the dark I got disoriented and wandered into them.  I was able to get out of my waders and swim out.  I retrieved my waders after it was low tide again.  I would have been 3 feet under water at high tide since, in that area, a moon tide has a 11 foot swing from low to high tide.  I am very cautious in muddy areas, but I find even being cautious in the dark you can make an error so I wear these Mudders to ensure I don’t get stuck.
 
NIGHT FLY PATTERNS
 
1.    Color: I use black flies on dark nights with little moonlight. On bright nights, I use true natural color imitations.  You can use natural on dark nights, too, but don’t use all-black when it’s a bright full moon.
2.    Silhouette: When fishing at night, I prefer files with a longer silhouette of at least 9 inches because it seems to deter schoolies from biting.  If your goal is not hunting big fish, feel free to use much smaller flies as your main fly.  If hunting big fish but if in an area where you know there is a specific pattern like sandeels, peanut bunker, or worms, then I recommend a double fly rig with a small bait imitation as a lead dropper ahead of a long profile trail fly.
3.    Rattles: On small profile patterns to match forage, adding a rattle will increase its catch rate at night.  I prefer plastic and metal jig rattles over pyrex, which breaks very often on me.  On my larger patterns, I use two rattles per fly to give lots of additional noise to the fly.
4.    Water push: I like to make all my flies have more defined front sections to help push water at night.  Adding a “magic head” to existing flies that match forage at night is a good ad hoc solution to make the jump into night fishing.  In general, my large night flies either have a ½ inch to 1-inch diameter head to create front bulk and push water.
5.    Special action: Articulation, special tails like “wiggle tails”, or other design features that create a commotion or vibration will help catch more fish.  Bulkheads, Game Changers, T Bone, European Pike Style attractor tails are all good ideas for night flies.
6.    Scent (heresy I know): At night, it helps. In daylight, it seems to have no impact.  I find when bait densities get very high, fish will ignore flies that smell wrong, even if all the other components are a perfect match.  I use scent primarily as a last resort to save nights that have been unproductive due to bait concentrations being super dense.
 
CASTING AND SAFETY
1.    When fly fishing with a single-hand rod, I roll cast. I shoot casts out with no false casts at all at night.
2.    Using a shooting style line is key to avoiding false casts. I like short heavy heads like the Rio Outbound Series to generate power to avoid false casting.
3.    For two-hand overhead casts, there are several decent videos on the internet you can find. I fish the same as a single-hand rod in that I roll cast into a water=loaded back cast, then fire the cast off.  I minimize false casting as much as possible.
4.    Spey casts are often required at bridges, many inlets, and wooded estuaries. I like a floating double taper line for surface or near-surface presentations.  For fishing deep, I use a Skagit system with T-17 sink tips or a 26 foot sinking shooting head.
5.    WEAR CLEAR EYE PROTECTION AND A HOOD. This will save your ears and your eyes, trust me.  Plus a lightweight sun hoodie at night allows you to spray the hood with bug spray and keep bugs off much better than having no hood.  My glasses saved my right eye twice in the last 10 years of fly fishing.
 
LEARNING TO CAST IN THE DARK
1.    Focus on one specific area for both day and night fishing, so you learn how the tide impacts that spot a every stage. Each spot has one or two peak windows that seem to bring the big fish in range of a wading angler.  Mastering how the tide impacts each spot in daylight will allow you to effectively present the fly there at night.
2.    Practice your presentations in daylight. You need to know if your swing is getting down to the right level.  Go fish these spots during the day with your night flies and dial in how that presentation feels by closing your eyes.  This will set you up to feel at night if the presentation is working correctly.  Fishing by feel takes a lot of practice and there is no penalty if you catch fishing daylight when practicing for night trips.
3.    A fly line with no stretch core is essential, as you are fishing by feel all the time. I used to use mono core lines because I liked a clear intermediate tip.  At night, this line is not your friend.
4.    Glowing running lines. These lines let you see what your casting stroke or your swing is doing in the dark. They don’t spook fish, and I really liked using them.  There is a major problem with them, though, and that is they alert other anglers to your location.  If you fish the surf at night you will quickly understand how undesirable it is to have other anglers see where you are fishing and if you are catching.  When you are fighting a big fish, that bent glowing line pointing into the water is like putting out a neon sign in the darkness “Guy Catching Fish Right HERE”.  So, if you are beginner, glowing running lines may help your initial night efforts, but once you start to develop areas that are producing big fish at night, you will discontinue their use to preserve the secrecy of your spots.
 
FINDING SPOTS
1.    Start with spots you already fish and that produce schoolies during the day.
2.    Pick no more than two spots that you already know produce fish. Then, during the off season when stripers are not around, go during daylight for 1-2 hour scouting trips. You want to keep going at different stages of tide until you have seen what the water movement and other details do at every stage of tide for both neap and spring tides.  (IF you don’t know what neap and spring tides are, please look them up this is a very important term for saltwater).  This is not a very fun process, so I keep my trips to 2 hours or less. But, if you truly do it as I recommend before the winter is over, you will really know those two spots like the back of your hand.
3.    Things to look for during off-season recon trips:
•    Look for rocky structure during extreme low tides
•    Look for channel configuration and undercut banks in salt marshes during low tides
•    Look for where rips form during both incoming and outgoing tides
•    Find any eddies formed near rips
•    Identify at what stage in the tide is the minimum amount of water present to allow striped bass to access the area to forage (18 to 24 inches of water is all they need).
•    Figure out what structure areas identified are accessible to fly casting and at what points in the tide. What you will find is a great piece of structure may hold fish all the time, but with a fly rod and, limited to being on foot, you can only reach it at a very specific tide window.  Big fish may always hang on that deep structure, but you can only get at them at a very limited window of time.
•    Probing with bucktails or jigs: To recon a spot I like to fish deep with bucktails or jigs and plastics. I use the jigs contact with bottom to probe and find key pieces of structure.  I lose a lot of lures doing this, but it will yield secrets most anglers never uncover.
•    Hire a boat: I have gotten people to take me out into areas and spend upwards of 2 hours marking spots that I can access from shore using their depth finders to uncover hidden deep structure.
4.    Once the season arrives you will want to fish as much as possible, but keep a detailed fishing logbook:
•    I take a picture of weather forecasts, showing key things such as temperature, pressure trends, and wind direction and trends.
•    If at a surf location, I take a picture of the surf forecast.
•    I take a picture of the tide chart for that time window.
•    I then track all fish caught with time caught, location caught, presentation/fly used, and length of fish caught. If I notice anything pertinent, I add that note as well, such as if a fish spits up what it was feeding on.
•    Later, I will correlate the times/locations of fish caught with the tide, surf, and weather data. I start to figure out key things such as that all 40 inch fish caught in one area are when high tide is 10 feet or higher and occurs between 11 pm to 2 am.  That info later helps you choose when you fish.
•    Only log after you are done fishing because this will spook any stripers present. Use your bright white light to search grass edges or shallows for presence of eels, worms, baitfish, crabs, lobsters, and other “prey” items.
•    Also, track the light levels. Was it a bright moonlit night or was it a pitch-black clouding new moon night?
•    Lastly, note if you heard fish feeding but could not identify what they were feeding on. Later, you may get other information that will help you solve that puzzle for next season so keep notes on frustrating events such as feeding sprees that you fail to hook any fish in at night.
 
I hope you enjoyed this post.  The next post will focus on “How to Fish at Night”.  This will include the importance of stealth and field craft, finding fish using visual and audio clues in the dark, fly presentation tactics, and example fishing scenarios.  This next article will give you actionable strategies you can apply to areas you either currently fish during the day or recon this winter.
 

What's your 11ft 10 and 12wt TH of choice? 

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