Is It Legal to Fish at Night?

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Fishing at night is legal, in most states around the United States. However, each state has different regulations when it comes to what you can or cannot do or where you can fish at night, and what type of fish you can catch. 

Night fishing regulations

Because each state has different regulations, you will have to research the fishing regulations in your state. 

Some states have night closures; others have certain restrictions on boating at night while others have no regulations at all.

In different areas, the regulations may apply to the types of water bodies that you may want to fish in, whether it’s freshwater or saltwater. 

Some regulations may even apply to different sections of the same water— prohibiting night fishing in one part, and permitting it in another section of the water.

And believe it or not some restrictions apply to the type of fish you want to catch. Some regulations don’t allow catching certain types of fish during the night.

So to avoid being on the wrong side of the law you need to be familiar with the fish species found in your local area.

You see, if you want to enjoy your peaceful night fishing you need to do a little research, visit the local fishery, and get acquainted with the various fish species in your area. 

Also, take time during the day to familiarize yourself with the area in which you would want to fish during the night so that you are aware of your surroundings when it gets dark.

Here are a few examples of night fishing regulations in different states.

The state of California permits night fishing in most places except Mono County. In some places, like Tahoe lake, you are limited on the time you can fish to only two hours after sunset. There are also no restrictions on sport fishing at night. 

Connecticut and Florida do not have any general fishing regulations or timings. You have to find out about the particular water body for its regulations.

In Connecticut, you have to check with the specific water body’s authorities otherwise defer to the Inland District Statewide Species Regulations.

Florida state specifies which tools you can use. For instance, you can only use a pole for freshwater fish at night.

If you are in Georgia you can fish at night in all places for public angling. 

In Hawaii, night fishing is allowed but not in all areas. Areas like Kauai Wailua allow night fishing, while places like Wailua Reservoir don’t allow it. 

In the freshwaters of New York, you can fish at night from Lake Ontario to Rt. 3 Bridge. No specific timings are mentioned for saltwater fishing. However, check for the local rules.

​North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota Ohio, and Texas don’t have specific night fishing regulations. It is advisable to check for the local rules in the area you are fishing. 

If you are not aware of the names of the rivers and lakes, you can get googling. Google maps can help you discover these names and certain coordinates to help you interpret regulations accurately.

Here’s some of the most popular fishing lakes in the US

A search on the internet will also help you find more area-specific fishing regulations, such as night closures, and it will further define the exact time that is considered to be “night time”.

Fishing regulations get revised every year, meaning restrictions can change. So you must get used to re-checking these rules every year.

When you are up to date with the rules, you will avoid getting a hefty fine for breaking the regulations.

Are fish attracted to light during the night?

No, fish are not attracted to light as commonly believed, nor does the moonlight increase the likelihood of a greater catch. 

Fish do not rely much on their sense of sight; they cannot detect color especially in deeper waters.

Instead, fish depend on their sonar senses and scents while they are in the dark, picking the tiniest vibrations of bait movement using their nerves. This is why you need to keep the bait moving while fishing.

The moon only has an effect on the water tides and currents which contribute to the productivity of fishing.

Instead, it is the phototrophic organisms found underwater which are attracted to light. When you light a stationary lamp onto a particular part of the water for some time the phototrophs will move to the water surface, then the tiny baitfish and insects will go after these phototrophs. 

The bigger predator fish will also move to the surface to feed on the baitfish, that’s how you catch more fish. 

What to look out for when fishing at night

Your safety is the most important. Make sure you have informed someone where you are going to fish and when you expect to get back.

This way you will have someone to be on the lookout for you in case you encounter a problem. 

Where possible go with someone else. Always carry a headlamp so you can see whatever is ahead of you. 

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Plus, ensure you have extra batteries so you never run out of lighting. If you are fishing on a boat, turn off all other lights as they can reduce your vision, only leave the headlamp on, so that you can see where you are going.

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Also, remember to find out if there are any wild animals in the fishing area which may attack you when you least expect them. This way, you can take all necessary precautions.

Additionally, keep all items that are not in use packed away so that you do not trip over them while moving in the dark. 

Finally, move your boat at slow speeds to avoid bumping on other boats or other obstructions found in water.

A first aid kit is always important when fishing, whether at night or during the day. Make sure you have one especially at night when there are fewer or no people to offer assistance. 

Another must have item is a life jacket, which must always be worn whenever you are on a boat.

Final thoughts

Now that you have established that you are not breaking the law and you have taken all safety precautions, you can go night fishing in peace.  

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