Develop your Muskie Night Sense

by Jim Saric

During summer and into early fall, one of the most reliable muskie fishing opportunities across the muskie range exists when fishing after dark. Simply put, fishing after dark can yield fantastic results, and the experience can be nothing short of magic. However, for those who haven’t fished after dark, or experienced a good night bite, fishing after dark can take you outside of your comfort zone. Fishing after dark requires you to rely on your other senses besides that of sight. You can hear the lure hit the surface and feel the vibration of the lure’s vibration. Although your vision is impaired, your other senses become overly-heightened, and that experience alone can be thrilling.

 

There is something about that first night bite. Quite often you will lose contact with the lure as the muskie overtakes the bait and creates a split second of slack. During the day, you rarely feel this as you are visually focused on other things, sometimes actually watching the lure during the retrieve. At night there is no watching the bait, just feeling it. It’s absolutely incredible to feel your rod load under extreme pressure after the lure momentarily disappears. That sequence of events is a game changer and can make anyone a night stalker.

I love fishing after dark. There is something about the tranquility of the dark and the heightened sense of awareness and anticipation that gets me really excited to fish after dark.

One of the most important aspects of any successful night angler is developing a sense of feel or an overall “night sense” of what’s happening around you. You need to be able to feel if you lure is fouled with weeds, or the blade is not spinning. You need to be able to feel the increase in resistance and the lure’s presence as it approaches the boat, to begin your figure eight. Yes, you have to figure eight after dark, and of course they bite at boatside after dark. A figure eight strike after dark at first seems like you have hooked into an anchor, which is immediately followed by whitewater furry and pandemonium. It’s night fishing at its finest.

My point is whether you are fishing a bucktail after dark across the top of shallow rocks, or cranking a deep weed edge with a Depthraider, you need to be in connection with your lure, and not waste casts.

Today’s equipment makes staying in contact with the lures after dark much easier. I use a G. Loomis muskie rod with a super smooth Shimano Calcutta 400D reel. This outfit allows me to not get distracted by noise and stay in total contact with the lure. Spool up with 100-pound PowerPro and you can feel a muskie breathe on the line! Together this combination really enhances your ability to feel what’s happening in the dark. Concentrate on feeling the lure away from the boat and notice the subtle difference as it approaches the boat. Once you get your mind focused on these things, fishing after dark becomes much easier.

Finally, when selecting spots to fish after dark, remember that your best daytime spots are often your best nighttime spots. You’ll just have to slow your boat speed through an area and possibly try a little shallower, particularly if conditions are calm. Muskie may roam shallow flats afer dark, but often they are still creatures of the edge. Major weed flats, points and humps will all hold muskie after dark. Likewise, so will shallow rock humps. Generally, I focus on keeping by boat outside the weed edge and look for muskie cruising the edges, but when fishing rocks, I always make sure my lures are coming across the top of the reef. The muskie might be on the edge of the reef, but more often than not, after dark the muskie are right on top.

Muskie fishing after dark is not for the faint at heart. It is a great way to consistently catch muskie in midsummer, particularly on a scorching summer such as this one. Remember to focus on your sense of feel and boat control, and simply fish your top spots, just fish them under the cover of darkness. Be safe both navigating after dark and casting large lures, and your summer might be the best one yet…just don’t expect to come home with a tan!