Fishing for surf striper at night is a completely different ballgame. There are certain aspects to look out for that would usually not be an issue during the day. Here we’ll break down everything from being safer to fishing more efficiently out in the dark.
1. Prepare for Oncoming Waves
This sounds super practical but we can’t emphasize it enough. During the day you can easily see large waves headed towards you. At night it’s a whole different beast. Not paying full attention can lead to a rogue wave knocking you over, and nobody wants to risk getting dragged out to the ocean.
Keep a high-quality LED headlamp with you at all times and stand a little further back than you normally would unless the tides are considerably low. Paying attention to how each wave sounds is also critical – you never know when any of these will save your life.
2. Tie a Connection Knot
A standard surf striper setup consists of braid/mono tied to a swivel with a leader to the lure. At night when you can’t see your swivel coming back to you, it’s much more efficient to tie a connection knot. This allows you to fish worry-free and keeps the swivel from smashing into the rod tip, saving you from any cracks or chips.
The Albright, Blood or FG knots are all strong and reliable. We usually tie the Albright since it’s easier and hasn’t failed us yet, but if your line sizes are considerably different the FG Knot will work better. All of them are extremely thin and go through the rod guides like butter.
So why use a swivel at all? A high-quality ball bearing swivel helps eliminate line twist during both cast and retrieve. Since you won’t have a swivel with a connection knot you can use a ball-bearing snap swivel in front of your lure instead for the same results.
3. Fishing Slower
This isn’t always the case, but working your lure a little slower gives the fish more time to track your bait. Since the striper are honing in on vibrations with their lateral line instead of sight, slow-rolling an SP Minnow or other lure gives them a better chance to locate your lure. Once again this isn’t always the right method so play around with retrieve speeds.
4. Scent Up
It’s not necessary but throwing some scent on your lures gives you the extra edge at night. As mentioned before, the fish rely on other senses to find bait at night so adding the element of smell can sometimes make or break your trip. We use durable scent like Pro-Cure since it tends to stay on even in harsh surf conditions.
5. Headlamp Usage
This is actually a very debatable subject. Most anglers will tell you to stay away from using headlamps because it scares the fish off while others say it makes no difference. A fixed light, however, will tend to draw baitfish at night with the striper close behind. If the surf area happens to be next to a well-lit pier, building, etc. it may actually be a great place to fish.
Our team mostly uses a headlamp for a few seconds at a time, only to check the waves occasionally and to light our way back to the car. We’ll also use it if we catch a fish, of course. Other than that we fish in the dark. Don’t let rumors psych you out! Do whatever you have confidence in, we’re sure the fish don’t care too much.