My Dad was always a firm believer that there was no bad time to go pike fishing. Sure, sometimes they were more active than others but the thrill of having a hard fighting pike smash your lure always made the waiting worth it. So what if you’re busy during the day? Can pike be fished at night, or is that a fool’s errand?
While we did most of our pike fishing during the day, you have to go out when the fish are biting, and more than once we hit a small feeding frenzy as evening was coming on. You’re not going to go in when the pike are smashing the lures!
Unlike many other fish pike do feed at night. Northern pike have excellent eye sight for fish and are happy to keep feeding after sunset, though most anglers report the best night fishing from pike happens in the hour before dawn or the first hour after sunset.
How to Prepare to Night Fish for Northern Pike
One of the most important aspects to successfully fishing for pike at night is to make sure you are properly prepared. You want to make absolutely sure that you are going to be safe. That has to be first and foremost.
That means lights on the boat, backup lights in the boat, and good survival lanterns or emergency lanterns that you could locate inside the boat even when it is pitch black.
The Night Is Darker Than You Think
Even if you are an avid outdoorsman, unless you’re truly hardcore in isolated wilderness, chances are there was some light pollution around. You will be AMAZED at just how dark it gets at night.
You need to make sure you have plenty of lights. You need lights set up on the boat so other boats can see you, so you can clearly see where you’re going, and you want emergency lanterns and flashlights in your boat.
Trust me, if you haven’t done this before, you need more lights than you think. Dark is DARK, and out on an isolated lake far from town – it’s incredible just how dark it can get. Especially if you don’t have a full moon to work with.
Even then, the shadows are something else.
Make Sure Your Boat Is Clean & Organized
You don’t want to stumble at night. Even in the best of conditions a big pike can mess up a boat quickly and cause plenty of chaos. You don’t want to throw an unlocked tackle box or loose gear into that equation.
Have Night Fishing Friendly Lures & Gear
From boat lights to brighter, glowing lures, the night time isn’t when you want to break out the silver and black. Make sure you bring out the lures, the line, the gear that is going to make sense when you are fishing in the dark of night.
Plan Your Time
Generally speaking the best night fishing happens in brief spurts. This isn’t like the day where you may spend 10 hours out on the water looking for two or three different feeding frenzies or cobbling together a catch here and there throughout the day.
Ideally your night park fishing should be a 60-90 minute window before you’re done, or before the sun comes up and you keep on fishing.
Plan your time accordingly, which may mean leaving early to make sure you’re in the best spots by the time you’re ready to actually start night fishing.
Night Fishing for Pike
Pike do tend to like to feed in cooler water, which is why the biggest night fishing successes for pike tend to happen around summer. This is why pike are more finicky or tend to go to deeper water during the day. This can lead to less eating of bait fish, which means hungry pike at night when the water is cooler.
Night fishing is a different experience than day fishing so you want to make sure you prepare properly for:
- A safe night fishing experience
- Gear that improves your success pike fishing at night
- Planning to make things go smoothly
- Following the pike night fishing tips in the next section to increase your odds!
How to Get Better Results Night Fishing for Pike
While every angler knows every outing is going to be a bit of a crap shoot, there are definitely ways to tilt the scales a little bit more in your favor.
Night Pike Fishing Tip #1: Pick Lures That Get Attention
During the day your main concern is finding the right color. While picking out bright colors is smart at night, as are using glowing lures if you happen to have any in your tackle box, you want to go way more than just bright colors during the night.
This is the time to break out lures with rattles, blinking lights, a bunch of shiny attachments that might reflect whatever moonlight there is, or any light from off the boat.
In other words, you want lures that are going to get the most attention in any way, shape, or form. You don’t want northern pike to struggle to locate your lure if they are hungry. Or simply angry enough to strike.
Get those flashy lures ready. This is their time to get out for a night in the water!
Night Pike Fishing Tip #2: Pick Your Fishing Times Carefully
I mention this something like 3-4 times throughout this article but it is worth bearing again: the overwhelming majority of anglers who have a lot of success fishing for northern pike at night have that success in the hour after sunset or the hour before sunrise.
So you will want to plan your night fishing to make sure it includes at least one of those time periods.
Doing so is likely to drastically increase your chances of success at night pike fishing.
Night Pike Fishing Tip #3: Look for Weedy Shore You Can Navigate by in Darkness
You will need to consider what adjustments you need to make for lower visibility. Your favorite weedy shore for pike during the day might be great, but if it’s narrow and requires precision casting aided by sight…that is a really tall order in the darkness of the night.
You may have to look at local spots and some of your favorite day spots for pike just might not be right for fishing at night.
After all, you need to be able to fish around the weeds – not shoving your hooks deep into them. Hard to catch pike that way.
Night Pike Fishing Tip #4: Consider Adding Scent
There is a lot of debate over whether adding scent to lures works or not. This can actually be a heated topic of debate among anglers. We’ve used it before (mostly for walleye) and truth be told it seemed to work, but that could be confirmation bias.
However, many anglers do believe this helps and considering that you want to use ever potential tool in your arsenal to help pike locate your lures in the dark of night, so put on that scent would be my recommendation. Just in case.
And do better than I did at tracking results to see if you notice a difference 🙂
Have Realistic Expectations on Pike Night Fishing Results
That said, it’s important to have realistic expectations. Multiple scientific studies guided by the DNR and wildlife biologists show that while pike eat more at night than other fish on average, they also eat more during the day than at night – no matter what time of year it is!
The myth that pike go nuts eating at night is just that: a fishing myth.
That doesn’t mean you can’t catch pike at night, but the idea that it being dark creates a feeding frenzy just isn’t backed by any study of these aggressive freshwater sports fish.
When Is the Best Time of Day to Go Pike Fishing?
The answer to the best time to go pike fishing can vary quite a bit based on location, recent weather, as well as local factors. That being said, generally speaking no matter where the study is done the heaviest feeding times tend to always be during the day.
Early morning and before midday tend to be two times that get a lot more pike activity than others.
This won’t always hold true, but it’s a good rule of thumb. Evening heading into dusk is a time that gets active on some bodies of water but might fizzle out on others.
A little bit of time on the water goes a long way towards figuring out the best times to fish for pike whether you are going to fish during the day or want to figure out the best times for night pike fishing.
Night Pike Fishing FAQ
Q: Can you catch pike in the dark?
A: Yes, although the amount of success you experience may vary. Giving yourself the best chance to catch pike at night requires preparation, the proper gear, and some proper preparation but it is possible.
Q: How can you consistently catch northern pike at night?
A: This seems to be the $10,000 question. Even many anglers who have had success with catching some decent sized northern pike at night mention how inconsistent the process can be.
Q: Can pike see your lures at night?
A: Pike not only use their vision, which is really good for a fish, but they use their other senses. The submandiular pores that they (and musky) are known for help them sense movement, noise, and pinpoint where the disturbances in the water are coming from.
Even when it’s pitch black dark at night. Because of that pike can indeed “see” your lure at night, though they may be using a combination of senses to pinpoint where your lure has dropped.
Q: What colors do pike see best?
A: While we’re not sure what colors pike actually see best, or see better compared to others, pike are known for liking brighter colors that stand out. That means bright orange, chartreuse, and white tend to be consistent winners.
Even more so when it comes to night fishing.
Q: Can you fish for pike with soft lures at night?
A: The issue is if the lure works or if the pike sees/senses it. While soft lures generally aren’t the lure of choice for getting pike to bite, if they are brightly color and work in the area normally there’s no reason you can’t at least try them at night.
Night Fishing for Pike: The Verdict
Can you fish for northern pike at night? Sure. And if they have been unusually picky recently, especially if you’re in summer during a particularly brutal heat wave, it’s not the worst strategy.
However, generally speaking there are a couple of very short windows where fishing for pike at night makes the most sense. Those are the hour after sundown and the hour before dawn.
These are the times where your night fishing for pike is likely to give you the best results, so these are the times you should focus on.