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Night Moves by Chas Champagne

As seen in the Sept 2023 issue of Marsh & Bayou Magazine Have you ever pulled up to a dock light, seen pops all over the water, and struggled to get bites? If so, odds are you were fishing much too large of equipment. Downsizing is the key to after-hours light fishing. With these new-age underwater green lights, the fish's vision is superb, so drop that line size down to a 6-10lb fluorocarbon.  
The trout you are catching are typically school trout, so breaking off is not a big issue. Also, if you pay attention to the bait the fish feed on, it's typically very small minnows and 50-100 count shrimp. So, downsize that lure! We absolutely love the Matrix Mini for this style of fishing, which is a bait we designed for crappie, aka white perch fishing. We typically put it on our 1/8th oz mini golden eye head, and a straight retrieve is best if the specks are actively striking the surface. Speck strikes make a sound like no other. It is not a slash on the surface or a swipe; that is typically ladyfish or another speedy fish.
Trout strikes sound just like if you were to throw a bottle cap in the water upside down and it was to hit the water surface flush. It is a suction-type sound. I believe I could tell you that blindfolded, as I grew up learning how to fish by fishing at night. When you find a light with this beautiful suction sound, back way off. 90% of the time, the trout are in the shadows. Specks typically aren't right above an underwater light or right below an above-water light.
They love to lurk in the shadows, so don't crowd the light. If you are looking for good lights, the underwater green ones are good, but they are often better used as a natural aquarium. Watching the fish rather than catching them is very exciting as they are very smart. You will pull up to one many times and see fish all over. Catch 2-3 immediately, and then the gig is up. Their vision is phenomenal on these lights, and they tend to be much smarter. My favorite is sodium vapor lights. These are the very bright orange ones. They are typically rectangular in size, and they are great. The fish seem less intelligent on these, and you can pull 10-30 trout off a light of this sort. There is no need to pull up to a light and set anchor or drop the trolling motor and make continuous cast to see the trout are there. Pull up, stay distant, keep the engine running.
Then, stand high on the bow of the boat and look and listen. They will tell you within 30 seconds what's going on. If you don't see dark flashes crossing the lights edge or that infamous suction sound, simply put the boat back in gear and push to the next one. Some lights are duds, but the next one just 100 yards away is a gold mine. One light you will find to be good every time you go, and others to be ghost towns every time you pass by, so take mental note of where the good ones are. If you are fishing camp lights out in the big water at night, such as the open lake, be safe and cautious and try and fish these on calmer nights.
These are the lights that you can load up on and catch limits. If you find a light holding 14-20″ trout with some reds mixed in, beef it up to 15lb matrix fluoro and switch to your favorite Matrix Shad or Vortex Shad. If you find the fish more of that 10-14″ class, stay with the perch equipment discussed above, and you will outfish your friends 10 to 1. Another tip I'll leave you with is if you pull up to a light and rip off 10 quickly by reeling it high in the water column, then the bite shuts down. Do these two things. The next few casts let bait go to the bottom, and the fish will sometimes submerge. If that doesn't prevail a few more, go to another light and give that one an hour, then return to it—nine out of ten times when you return, they will be back on the surface swarming like bees.
and also receive the Sept. 2023 issue of MARSH & BAYOU MAGAZINE FREE