The risks of operating a boat at night increase greatly, and extreme care must be taken to avoid collisions with stationary and floating objects and other vessels. To begin, make sure all required navigation lights are properly installed and working. Also, have a backup system such as clip-on lights and extra bulbs.

Second, make sure you have all required safety equipment, and make sure each person on board wears an approved personal flotation device while the boat is under way.

Electronics greatly aid in navigation at night and, at a minimum, a GPS and depth finder should be used, and radar is also highly recommended. Use the GPS to closely follow marked routes that you have already traveled during daylight hours and are free from obstructions.

Have one person on board as a lookout, in addition to the boat operator, as an extra set of eyes to help navigate. It is also advisable to travel during daylight hours to the area that you will be fishing to avoid two trips while it is dark. Some anglers prefer to stay out all night and travel back at safe light. Pairing up with another boat and traveling together is also a great safety measure.

Editor's note: This article is part of the Midnight Madness feature in the August issue of Louisiana Sportsman. Digital editions can be downloaded right to your computer or smartphone.

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