An exciting, exhilarating, and memorable experience – these are words oftentimes used to describe the sport of night fishing.  It’s a recreational activity that is full of enjoyment and expectation, yet it’s uniquely mysterious.  You’re hoping that you land a trophy fish if you hook something and yet and yet you can never be sure of catching anything.  You never know what’s lurking beneath your boat or off the dock and never will until you get it up to the surface.  Therein lies the mystery of night fishing.

Although you can catch lots of fish during the daytime, fishing between dusk and dawn is unlike any other pursuit.  However there are certain species of fish and times during the year when night fishing greatly improves your odds of being successful.  However, if you do go fishing at night, fishing lights are vital components of such an adventure.  It’s not just about being able to see what you’re doing.  It’s about attracting fish to your boat or the dock you’re fishing from.

The Progression of Events

For those of you who are unfamiliar with night fishing in freshwater or saltwater, the progression of events usually transpires as follows.  Fishing lights attract tiny creatures known as plankton (or zooplankton in technical terms).  The plankton attracts the smaller fish (baitfish) such as herring, minnows, and shad which feed on them.  In turn, the larger predator fish such as bass, crappie, redfish, speckled trout, walleye, and other species (depending on where you’re fishing), move in to feed on the baitfish.  At that point, the angler is ready with his or her live bait or lure.  Game on!

3 Types of Fishing Lights

There are three types of lights that are used when fishing at night – submersible fishing lights, floating fishing lights, and black lights.  Not only are these lights used to attract the fish, they can be used in combination with one another.  For example, you can place two floating lights above two submersible ones in order to stretch the amount of visible light from the depths to the surface.  Using different fishing lights in conjunction with one another is a highly effective method for attracting and catching fish at night.

Furthermore, black lights will help you see you’re fishing line, thereby allowing you to determine what’s going on below the surface by not only feeling your line move but seeing it as well.  With the floating and submersible lighting combination, you can see above the water as well.  This is very handy for baiting your hook, tying on hooks and lures to your line, and unhooking the fish you catch.  Remember, there are certain fish that often work the night shift.  And you should be, too.


While fishing lights are available in a variety of brand names, configurations and styles, they are usually classified in one of two categories – floating or submersible.  Whether in a boat or on land, most serious anglers who enjoy fishing between dusk and dawn are well aware of the importance of having these types of lights.  Fishing lights are not only functional and practical, they are extremely versatile as well.  In addition to lighting up the water and attracting plankton, baitfish, and the larger predator fish, they provide light for hooking bait, tying fishing line, and unhooking your catch.

Floating Fishing Lights

As the name implies, these lights stay on the surface of the water but provide lighting down to varying depths as well as above the surface.  Ironically, the first floating fishing lights were rudimentary and consisted of a styrofoam floating ring that surrounded a sealed white light that was similar in design to the headlights on a vehicle.  Most of these are powered by 12-volt batteries and are connected to the floating light with alligator clips attached to the terminals.

If you’re fishing in a boat, you can place one or more of these next to it by pointing the light beam downward so it penetrates the water and eventually attracts baitfish and hopefully, a larger predator.  If on the other hand, you’re fishing from a dock or land, you’ll need to secure them using cord, rope, or some type of weight so they don’t drift out of reach.  Remember, you can use white colored light but green would be a better choice because it isn’t absorbed so quickly and penetrates further into the water.

Submersible Fishing Lights

For many years, floating fishing lights were the only style that were available and were pretty much the standard for individuals who enjoyed fishing at night.  Unfortunately, they had to contend with aggravating swarms of insects and pests that were attracted to the light along with the plankton, baitfish, and larger fish.  Because of this and a number of other reasons, submersible floating lights came into being.  These lights are placed beneath the surface in order to light up the water above and below them.

Today, you can purchase submersible fishing lights that are available in 12-volt, battery powered, or LED varieties.  They are manufactured to sink immediately when you place them in the water.  In fact, many models are made with an internal weight so they sink quickly.  Conversely, there are other models that won’t sink until they’ve been attached to a weighted swivel clip on one of the ends of the fishing light.  Because these models will float unless they are weighted down, you have more versatility when using them.


Whether it’s a freshwater lake or saltwater, nothing helps you catch more fish between the hours of dusk and dawn than floating and submersible fishing lights.  Fishing lights are usually available in blue, green, and white colors depending on the type of water you want to fish in.  You’re probably wondering “why not other colors such as purple or red? Does color really matter?” With all due respect, yes it does.  In fact, it matters quite a bit.  And there is years of research to back that up.

A Bit of Fishing Light History

Ironically, green light has only become popular within the past couple of decades.  Up to that point in time, fishermen always used white light when fishing at night.  The first types of fishing lights were crude and simple.  In fact, they weren’t much more than a Coleman lantern mounted on a styrofoam ring and secured with a cord, rope or some type of weight to hold them from drifting.  Today’s night fishing lights are considerably more sophisticated and come in a variety of colors.

What Color Works best?

According to several studies, green and white light is the most attractive to plankton and they will usually migrate towards it in order to reproduce.  But it also attracts baitfish as well, which in turn draws in the larger predator fish that can’t pass up an easy meal.  As a second light choice, white has been known to be effective although not to the extent that green light is.  White light gets absorbed quickly and therefore cannot penetrate very deep.  Consequently, green light is more effective at luring in the fish.

Interestingly enough, there are some baitfish and sportfish that are attracted to the light instead of baits and plankton.  However, green is still the superior light color to use for attracting baitfish.  You might be wondering about blue fishing lights since it was initially grouped in with the effective colors to use.  Like green light, blue light can be extremely effective for night fishing.  But surprisingly, it is more effective in saltwater and usually won’t attract baitfish in freshwater.

A research study that was conducted by the marine biology department of the University of South Florida experimented with 5 different colors by putting all of them in the water at the same time.  They conducted the experiment multiple times in multiple locations and the results were always the same.  Green light worked and attracted baitfish every time.  It’s makes sense then that green would be the popular color of choice among serious nighttime anglers.  So when you decide to try night fishing and you’re shopping for the right lighting to use, green is probably going to be your best option of all colors.


It has long been contended that the best summertime fishing occurs between dusk and dawn.  However, if you’re going to be fishing at night, lighting is essential, especially if you’re out in a boat.  Without a doubt, lights are a night fisherman’s best friend, but not just lights for seeing what you’re doing.  The right kind of lights will bring the fish in closer to your boat.  While there are a variety of lights that can be used, LED lights have become increasingly popular over the past 5 years or so.

What makes LED Lights the best choice for Boat Fishing?

Whether you’re in a fishing boat on a freshwater lake or you’re fishing in the ocean, here are 5 features and benefits make LED lighting the better choice for your vessel:

  • Durability – this is probably the most significant benefit. LED lighting is ideal for marine environments where they are oftentimes exposed to the elements and rough conditions.  Furthermore, they are resistant to heavy impacts, shock, and vibrations.
  • Efficiency – traditional lighting converts only 20% of its power source into usable light while the other 80% is lost in the form of heat. Conversely, 80% of electrical energy is converted to light with LED lighting.  As a result, LED lights don’t get as hot as your traditional lighting yet they run longer.
  • Instant output – unlike other types of lighting, LED lights power up to maximum brightness immediately. Plus, you never have to worry about compromising their life expectancy, even if you are turning them on and off frequently.
  • Longevity – LED lighting saves you time and money. High-quality boat lights have a life expectancy of up to 40,000 hours or more.  That equates to a continual light output of roughly 4½ years.
  • Power drain – you’ll draw considerably less power from your boat batteries when using LED lights compared to other types of lighting. In turn, this will enable you to spend more time on the water and save your batteries in the process.

Additionally, green lighting is best to use whether you’re on a freshwater lake or fishing in saltwater.  As far as penetrating the water goes, it’s the best choice by far.  Plus, it’s ideal for use in murky waters where visibility is poor because it tends to make the water appear clearer in most cases.  You can also use white lights, but it dissipates quicker the farther away it gets from its source.

In conclusion, LED lighting can be installed on any type of vessel.  While green or white colored lighting works best, you can also use blue LED lights.  However, many research studies have shown that night boat fishing with blue LED light is only effective when you’re fishing in saltwater.