The Food Chain
|Notice: In order for lights to attract plankton,
they can not be competing with sunlight.
Therefore, fishing lights are only effective at night
or under snow covered ice.
FISHING with artificial light has been around for many years. It doesn't take a $100 to $300
fishing light to attract fish. In the early days the most common method was to hang a lantern
over the side of a boat. Some of the old timers thought the light attracted bugs (which they
did), and in return the fish surrounded the boat in hopes of getting a meal. There are still
those who believe the old theory of fewer bugs, less fish, but new technology has done much
to disprove that theory.
Submersible lights project light directly into the water which leaves little reflected light to
attract bugs on the surface. Why then are fishermen catching more fish using the
submersible lights than ever before? It's actually quite simple, light starts a natural food
chain reaction by attracting a concentration of small microscopic animals called plankton.
Bait fish such as shad and minnows are drawn to the light to feed on the plankton; and larger
game fish move in to feed on the bait fish. It's not uncommon to see bait fish stacked in
columns 15 feet thick under the lights, with game fish suspended directly below them.
Rods, lures, fish locator's and Underwater Lights all help increase your chances of catching
your limits on a daily basis, but they are not magic. In order for lights to attract fish, there has
to be fish to attract. If you have a dock that sits in 2 feet of water and you have never caught
a fish in the area, chances are the lights will not be the magical solution to the problem. If the
water is unsuitable to hold fish, not even lights will help lure fish into unhealthy water.
With that said though, the use of artificial light WILL attract fish to your Boat or Dock if the
boat or dock is located in water capable of holding fish and if you follow the below
THE BOAT MUST BE ANCHORED IN ORDER FOR THE LIGHTS TO ATTRACT FISH!
If you are drifting, the plankton and bait-fish will never be able to gather around the light
which will stop the food chain before it ever starts. ANCHOR YOUR BOAT WITH AT LEAST
(1) ANCHOR AND PREFERABLE (2) ANCHORS SO IT CAN NOT PIVOT ON ONE ANCHOR
LINE. The more stationery the better!
SET UP IN AN AREA WHERE THE FISH ARE! The best Lights, Lures and Boats won't help
you a bit if you're not fishing in an area that holds fish. If the water is to shallow, to deep or
doesn't have sufficient structure nothing will help you catch fish. This holds true when fishing
from a Boat, Dock or thru the Ice! Fish ALWAYS relate to water temperature and some kind
of structure. This can be a drop off adjacent to a river channel, submerged brush or even a
pile of rocks. If you aren't fishing on or near some type of underwater structure your chances
of attracting or catching fish are greatly reduced. Remember, 10% of the water in any lake
holds 100% of the fish. The rest of the lake is dead water....with or without a light. To fish,
an old river channel running through the lake is like a highway to other areas of the lake and
it provides cover and different depths of water for them to forage in. Ideally, a point or a
bridge that has the old river channel running adjacent to it is hard to beat. Try and find a
spot on the point where there is a good drop off. If the top depth is 10' and drops to 50' very
fast, you would want to set up in 15' to 25' of water to start. If you don't have any luck there,
move deeper or shallower until you find the fish. Attracting bait fish is a MUST! If the bait fish
do not show up in the first 30 minutes after setting your lights, move to another spot. Just
because they weren't at one spot doesn't mean they won't be at another spot further down
the lake. Water temperature is a key factor in attracting large numbers of bait fish. If the
water temperature is below 70 degrees there will be less bait fish around the lights. As the
water warms up, the bait fish begin to school up and you will attract them by the thousands
around the lights.
If you are fishing from a Dock, the water around the dock has to be deep enough to hold
fish. The use of lights will not attract fish to area’s that are not capable of holding fish. If you
have never seen or caught fish around your dock before, lights will probably not help attract
them to it.
SET THE LIGHTS AT THE PROPER DEPTH! These lights are designed to be hung off the
side of a Boat, Dock, Pier or thru the Ice. There is no reason to put the lights deeper than 3'
under the surface. DO NOT lower the lights to the bottom or let them lay on the bottom. If
you are using the lights with a PVC stand on the bottom, you will need to set them deeper to
prevent them from being damaged by watercraft.
NOTICE: If you will be using these lights off of a Dock in tidal waters, be sure and set the
lights deep enough that they will not be exposed to air during low tide! The lights will be
damaged if not submerged are all times!
Tip: Some fish are skittish of the bright light, so use one pole to fish directly in the light and
another pole to fish on the outer edge of the light. Many times, more fish will be caught on
the outer fringe of the light. This is usually always true of snook that hang around dock lights.
How Many Lights Do You Need?
IN OR OPINION it's always better to (2) lights compared to (1) light in most
circumstances. Using two lights spread 3' to 4' apart will give you a much wider radius of
light, will allow more fisherman to fish in different zones of the light. However, if you have a
small boat many times one light will provide sufficient light.
Using (2) lights will also let you experiment with different colors so you can see which color is
attracting more bait-fish on any given night. For example, starting with one white light and
one green light will let you see which light is attracting the most bait-fish at that particular
time. Once you see which color is attracting the most fish, you can switch both lights to the
The color of light is also very important just as it is with fishing lures. Different colors of light
travel further underwater than others in different conditions. Changing from White Light to
Green Light could make all the difference in the world from the eyes of a fish. Again, just
because Green Light may not be working doesn't mean another color won't. As with all
fishing, you have to be patient and try different methods in order to catch fish consistently
night after night.
Lures and Bait
You should always try to use a lure or bait that looks like the bait-fish in the water you are
fishing. You can never go wrong using live bait dipped from the same water you are fishing
in, however artificial baits work as well. Our recommended lure for night fishing is the 2"
Puddle Jumper on a 1/16 oz. or a 1/8 oz. jig head. The OzarkFishing Connection Puddle
Jumper has always been a favorite of ours and I guarantee it will help you catch more fish.
Keep in mind though, If you are using artificial lures it is imperative to keep the lures looking
as real as possible. If you are using a 1/8 oz. lead head jig with a rubber body, you want to
make sure the jig ALWAYS hangs horizontal in the water. If the lure is hanging at an angle it
will greatly reduce the number of hits you have. So, take time to straighten your lure out after
catching a fish, it will increase your strikes 10 fold...I guarantee it..!
Most of the time all you will feel is a "slight" tap. When you feel this tap, you should already
be setting the hook. The fish inhale the bait, taste it and spit it out. They seldom hook
themselves so your reaction time has to be good. I've taken many seasoned anglers night
fishing for the first time and they swear they weren't getting bites. They were, they just didn't
realize it at first. So, be patient and don't be afraid to set the hook if you feel something, and
keep that lure hanging straight in the water!
For Starters Try This
Start fishing by lowering the lure or bait to the bottom. Make sure the lure is on the bottom by
watching the line between the rod tip and the surface of the water. When the line goes slack,
the lure should be on the bottom. When the rod tip touches the water, the lure should still
be touching the bottom. Now, slowly lift the lure or bait about 1 foot off the bottom and hold it
still. If a strike doesn't occur in a couple of minutes, start raising the lure or bait in 1 foot
increments, pausing between each lift. (It is critical to hold the lure or minnow dead still for a
few seconds between lifts. The fish will normally hit it when your bait or lure it still or falling.)
When the rod has been raised to chest level, lower the rod tip back to the surface of the
water and put 1 full crank on the reel, and again hold the lure still for a few minutes. If no
strike is felt, start lifting the lure in 1 foot increments until the fish are located. Be sure and
keep track of the number of cranks made on the reel. After catching a fish, lower the lure
back to the bottom, crank up the same number of cranks on the reel, and you should be right
back in the fish. Once the fish are located they usually stay close to same depth most of
night. But remember, the water temperatures may change as the outside air temperature
drops so it's a good idea to search all depths if the action slows down.
Depending on what type of night fishing you do, night fishing equipment will vary. Lights are
used in both freshwater and saltwater and every kind of fish imaginable can be caught using
lights. For fishing a typical freshwater lake, equipment usually consists of light to medium
action equipment with no more than 6lb test line. In our area the most common lure used is a
1/16 to 1/8 ounce lead head jig tipped with either a white or yellow Puddle Jumper or a live
minnow. As with all types of fishing, if the bait you’re using isn't producing fish, don’t be
afraid to try something else.
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