Nighttime fishermen have known for eons that light attracts fish. They may not have known why, but the fact was, where there was light shining into or around a body of water, there were fish. We now know that light attracts the plankton that baitfish feed upon. And where baitfish congregate, so do larger fish.

The earlier fishermen would use lanterns and dedicated old-timers still do, but new technology offers more advanced ways to lure fish into feeding at night with lights that are made specifically for the night fisherman. Fish lights on the market today can be affixed to docks or piers, have floating capabilities, or can be completely submersible. So what are the differences and what are the benefits and drawbacks of each?

Floating Fish Lights

One of the earlier dedicated light systems developed for nighttime fishing, floating fish lights are encased by a flotation ring, most commonly made of styrofoam. These lights are powered by a 12v system and can run off a battery or cigarette lighter. The best of these have safety fuses and insulated cords.

The drawback to floating lights is they are not stable and are subject to waves and water movement. The more stable the light, the better it is to draw fish to feed. Since it is above the waterline, a floating light can also have more of a tendency to attract insects at night. Although this may be great for the fish, it is usually not so great for the fisherman.

Submersible Fish Lights for Boats

Submersible fish lights are more stable as they are below the waterline and can be weighted down or affixed to the hull of the boat with suction cups. These are available in colors of the spectrum proven to attract fish to feed. They also have true 360° light coverage.

These use LED light which may not be quite as bright as HID lights, but new technology offers stronger and more compact versions which are very versatile in situations where there is no electrical capability.

Portable HID submersible lights are available for boats and offer the same high power that the dock fish light systems have. They are much brighter than LED systems. These lights still require a 110 outlet, so fishermen using these lights on their boat will need to use an inverter or generator to power the light.

Submersible Dock Light Systems

The dock light systems are the most permanent and stable of the fish light systems. These provide illuminated night fishing right from your dock. They run from a one-bulb system to a four-bulb system and require electrical capability. The most advanced ones offer self-cleaning options with anti-barnacle coatings, photocells for automatic turn-on and off, and varying cord lengths.

Regardless of the fish lights you choose, you will be impressed by the difference having illumination can make on your nightly catches. Dedicated fish lights have made many a night fisherman out of those who may never have fished at night before.

If you’re not a night fisherman, you may be missing out.

Night fishing exposes you to those night feeders that just don’t come out during the day. Many species are simply more active at night. There are numerous reasons, some of which are tides and moon phase. Water temperature is cooler, especially in summer months. Many fish tend to dive to deeper waters during the heat of the day. But for whatever reason, many fish are just far more active at night. Although fish don’t see well at night, many fish rely on movement and smell to locate food sources.

As a fisherman, it may be harder to maneuver at night, but that’s where the use of fish lights can be advantageous, not only for you, but also the fish. Fish can be triggered into a feeding frenzy once you introduce a light source, in particular, a submersible one.

Submersible fish lights directly project into the water and cause reflections. The light creates a feeding environment for plankton and baitfish. We used to think that light simply attracted more insects but we now know that it’s more about attracting the plankton and phytoplankton that baitfish feed on. And where you have an abundance of baitfish, your predators are close behind. The more baitfish that are attracted, the more of a “frenzy” is created, luring the larger fish to an area of feeding abundance. This works for both day and night feeders.

The wavelength spectrum of particular colors seem to work best. Just like the color green is easier on our eyes, green seems to work well with fish. Green and white fish lights tend to attract more freshwater fish with the color blue working well in saltwater.

HID fish lights are the most powerful when electrical capability is handy. When an electrical outlet isn’t available for HID lights, there are now new and more powerful LED lights that can be powered off a 12v outlet port or battery from your boat. The best submersible lights offer 360 degree coverage. This should be done from an anchored boat so you have a fixed position. The fish will be attracted to a submersible fish light the way they are naturally attracted to light sources on fixed structures like docks or piers. These lights can be weighted or fixed to the boat with suction cups. More is better. Try two or three lights at once for a larger throw of illumination.

Of course, it’s always important to make sure you choose a location where the fish are. If there are no fish, it makes no difference if the area is lighted or not. It’s still important to know your fishing spot. Too deep, too shallow, or not enough hiding spots for fish and your chances of catching fish will be limited. So check out your spot during the day first.

Go ahead. Become a night fisherman. You may decide you like it better than the daytime and find that your catch is far greater with the use of an underwater fish light.

It’s up to you! Night fishing can be fun…or miserable. It all depends on how prepared you are!

If you went night fishing as a kid, the exhilaration of being out at night when everyone else was asleep may have been enough to keep you entertained. But as an adult, nighttime fishing can be frustrating if you’re not prepared. Whether you are fishing off your boat or off a dock or pier, fishing at night can be difficult if you’re not organized.

  1. Check the forecast
    • How many times have you gone out only to wish you had paid more attention to the weather forecast? Bad weather can make a potentially fun night of fishing a wretched experience.
  2. Check your supplies
    • Go through that tackle box to make sure you have everything and everything is organized. There’s only one thing worse than trying to find something in a disorganized tackle box and that’s trying to do it in the dark.
  3. Check your equipment
    • Make sure your poles are ready and lines are in good shape.
  4. Using a boat? Make sure your boat is maintained and in good working order.
    • Breaking down isn’t fun. Breaking down at night? Far less fun. Go through the boat to make sure everything is in place and secure. Make sure all equipment is working properly. Make sure to pre-tie enough leads and rigs to last the whole trip.
  5. Safety First
    • Make sure you have sufficient flashlights with extra batteries
    • Charge a cell phone or radio so you can get in contact with emergency services if needed
  6. Check that first aid kit to make sure it’s well stocked.
    • It’s hard to tell the seriousness of a cut or wound at night and you want to be prepared for anything.
  7. Know your area.
    • You want to be able to anchor properly. Sometimes it’s best to get out early when there’s still some daylight.
  8. Light sources.
    • Make sure you have sufficient light sources for your own functional needs. But also consider fish lights to attract baitfish. Lights are not only important for the fisherman but also stimulate the fish into looking for food.

Fishing for night feeders is often all about smell or movement. Many night feeders sense the wounded prey or smell it so a good chum line can be very effective at night.

If you’re anchored in a good area, you can also make use of the feeding frenzy caused by an underwater fish light. Night feeders are often attracted by the movement of baitfish that are lured by plankton that is drawn by lights that are either mounted to the boat or submerged off the side. These fish are drawn by the lure of an easy meal so night fishing with a submersible fish light can often be far more productive than fishing without one.

If you are fishing off a pier, nighttime is often the best time due to the amount of lights that are typically shining on the water. You can watch the veritable feeding frenzy off the side of a pier on any given night. If you are fishing off your own dock, underwater fish lights can be affixed to your dock to boost your catch capabilities at night. Either way, the use of lights can stimulate fish into going for an easy meal.

Fishing at night can be a great experience if you’re organized and well equipped. Don’t miss out on the abundance of fish that are active only at night. You just may find that you like fishing at night better than during the day. No sunburn, less competition, and more active fish! What’s not to like?

Aside from the need to see what you’re doing and where you’re going on open waters when fishing at night, fishing lights were designed and developed to do three things

  • attract plankton and baitfish
  • illuminate your immediate surroundings and the water below you
  • produce good fishing results

Today’s advancements lighting industry technologies has resulted in the evolvement of lights that attract plankton, baitfish, and game fish.  Furthermore, they are available for boaters in two versions, namely the in-hull and portable varieties.

How Boat-mounted Fishing Lights work

In reference to the above three factors, night fishing lights attract the members of the food chain by illuminating the water below your vessel.  Additionally, they are capable of lighting a larger area up to and including around the entire boat.  This creates a focal point or a shadow line for the angler where the light fades into darkness.  This becomes the prime ambush point for the larger predator fish.  Not only does it help the angler to see where he or she places their bait, they can react quickly when spotting a fish.

In a sense, fishing lights are a source of entertainment because they attract everything from tiny creatures (plankton) to large game fish.  While you’re impatiently waiting for the water to explode as a larger game fish comes into feed, you can keep busy dipping your net or jigging for baitfish and squid.  Although fishing lights will help you increase your catch numbers and put more fish in your boat, it helps to have good angling skills as well as a knowledge of what’s in the water.

In-Hull and Portable Fishing Lights

No matter what type of fish you’re after or where you are fishing for them, you should consider purchasing in-hull and portable lights for your trip.  The portable light is going to serve you well when it comes to seeing in the water and jigging for live bait.  The illuminated area on and below the surface of the water will make it much easier for you to not only jig for baitfish and squid, but to see and react to incoming game fish.  Also, it makes baiting your hook and tying your line easier as well.

Thanks to LED technology, the in-hull fishing lights that are available on the market today are ultra-durable, low amperage products that can stand up to the abuse and pounding of rough waters.  Furthermore, LED lights cannot be damaged when left on the boat and do not emit excessive heat unlike halogen and xenon/HID lighting.  Plus, you have a choice of in-hull or surface-mounted lights.  Because the in-hull version requires drilling a large hole for the light below the waterline, the surface mounted variety has become increasingly more popular.