Night-fishing options are greatly expanded for those who have boats and the willingness to deal with the dangers of navigating at night.
Chas Champagne, the owner Matrix Shad lures, grew up on the water in Eden Isles. As a youngster, his parents would not allow him to venture outside of the canal system of Eden Isles in his small boat.
But he fished day and night, and soon became an expert in the area.
“When I was young, the fishing was so good I could go out at night around the lights in the canals and easily catch 15 trout and five bass pretty much anytime I wanted,” Champagne said. “The fishing is still very good in the canal system, especially in the fall when the white shrimp come in.”
But there’s a lot of great options during the dog days of the year.
“During the summer months, the best night fishing is around all the lighted piers on Carr Drive, Old Rat’s Nest Road (now Lakeview Drive), Treasure Isle, Rigolets Estates and Highway 90,” Champagne said. “If there are any trout in the area, you will definitely find them under the lights at night.”
Champagne said one of the major advantages of using a boat to night fish is that you can select the best area to fish based on wind direction, tides and water clarity. He said you can move around in that general area, from pier to pier, until you locate a good bite.
By the end of the night, you will have a nice box of fish, he said.
Champagne mentioned that anglers fishing lighted piers should be courteous to pier owners and simply choose other piers when the owners are fishing. The waters are open to anyone to fish, but the lights and piers are private property, so be respectful.
What to use
When asked about baits, tackle and techniques, Champagne said there is a simple rule.
“For night fishing under lights, you really want to downsize your baits,” he said. “Most of the time the trout will be on top of the water, so you want to use a 1/8- or 1/16-ounce jighead and small soft-plastic baits.
“I simply bite about an inch off the front of a Matrix Shad and thread it on the jighead.”
Champagne also divulged one of his closely guarded secrets.
“If you see glass minnows under the lights and want a rig that imitates them almost exactly, use a split-tail Bass Assassin or a Zoom Fluke and attach it to a hitch-hiker rig, which is a trailer rig that has a cork screw that you screw into the head of the lure,” he explained. “You then attach it to a small kahle hook. This rig allows the lure to swim freely, and this presentation is deadly — it is real finesse fishing.”
Champagne also said VuDu and DOA shrimp work well under lights when shrimp are in the area.
Champagne recommended light spinning rods and reels with 6- to 10-pound-test line to help toss the light baits farther.
He said the best presentation is normally a steady retrieve with a twitch or a stop-and-go retrieve. He mentioned that he has not found cork fishing to be very productive under lights.
Champagne also recommended changing to a 1/4- or 3/8-ounce jighead to work the bottom if you are not seeing activity on the surface.
According to Champagne, the best conditions for night fishing are calm waters and a falling tide.
“I am not sure why,” he said, “but night fishing under lights is always better when it is calm.”