Resident writer Drew Clement explores safety aboard a night fishing boat.
When temperatures rise and the weather is mild there is often nothing more appealing than night time fishing. The water is calm, the atmosphere is peaceful, and the fish are active. It really doesn’t get much better than that for trout fishermen, but an influx of excitement can also lead to some poor decisions.
While locking hold of that monster catch is the ultimate goal, personal safety always needs to be a priority when fishing, especially at night. Not only is this the case in terms of keeping yourself safe, but it is also the law. Your boat needs to hold the proper equipment and you need to be well prepared for a number of situations that you could encounter. The fact is that the body of water that you know as well as the back of your hand is just not as friendly when the darkness of night creeps in.
This article isn’t meant to deter you from the joys of night fishing; it is just meant as a reminder to play it safe. A little extra preparation can make your night time fishing more enjoyable and ensure you the most positive and rewarding results.
So how do you prepare for night fishing and ensure you and your fishing partners are safe? Follow along. The key is to be proactive rather than being reactive.
Required Equipment for Night Time Fishing
Lifejackets and flotation devices are probably the single most important pieces of equipment you need to have on board when fishing. In general, if someone falls overboard during the day it can be quite a simple task to locate them and “fish” them out, pardon the pun. Such is not always the case at night. That is why personal flotation devices, which are properly fitted, and toss able devices are a necessity when fishing after dark.
Another necessity is stern and bow lights on your boat. The law requires that your lights all be lit any time when visibility may be reduced, as one of the most common accidents when fishing at night is running head on into other boats or objects that are not visible. To venture out at night without proper lighting on your boat is best described as foolish, let alone illegal.
In terms of other required equipment for safe night time fishing, you are going to want to ensure you have flares, a fire extinguisher and a paddle. Each of these items needs to be in a safe and easy to find location as they are items you do not want to have to be searching frantically for should you get into any trouble.
Aside from the equipment you are required to have on board by law, and the no brainers, there are a few more tools you will want to have on hand when battling the depth of the night.
Recommended Equipment for Night Time Fishing
An anchoring device can be extremely handy but is often left off of the checklists of a lot of fishers. At the first sign of drifting into dangerous waters an anchor should be deployed in order to put an end to the drift, and even keep you right on top of the fish when there is no danger present.
A flashlight and proper batteries seems to be common sense when it comes to fishing at night, but doesn’t it always seem that flashlights always fail when you need them most? It is best to pack an extra set of batteries and check the flashlight before pushing away from the dock.
A ship to shore radio is an incredibly wise investment at all times when fishing, and especially at night. Weather that looks calm and harmless can turn for the worse in an instant. Everyone on shore could be aware of conditions that are heading your way, but if you are left out of the loop you could get caught in a more than undesirable position.
While a lot of crafty and experienced fishermen feel that they know the water well enough to skip out on navigation tools, they become quite essential at night. While a GPS is one of your best options they are not always a part of everyone’s budget. Something as simple as a compass can make all the difference when you are trying to find your way back to the friendly shores to share the rewards of your succulent catch.
What is important to remember if you decide to invest in a GPS device is that you need to understand how to work it. Trying to flip through the manual in the dark when you are lost out at sea is not going to make the situation any easier. They are simple to use nowadays but be sure to put in a little time and practice when it comes to navigating your actual navigation device.
Another tip for safe fishing at night time is to always let people know where you are headed and when. In the event that something unexpected happens it is best that someone on shore knows where you were, what you are doing, and when you are expected to return home. This makes it much easier for people to locate you in an emergency and is much better than being lost for hours and having nobody realize.
Night time fishing can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences out there for fishers. You just need to take certain precautions and prepare for the unexpected. It is a sad reality that without a bit of preparation a wonderful adventure can turn into a nightmare within moments. Avoid those instances and focus on the prizes that lurk below the surface.
These steps and tips for safe night time fishing are simple and easy, but they can make all the difference between a memorable story of exciting fishing and a tale of dangerous misfortune.