This is the perfect year to give night fishing a try
We are heading into a full moon period over the next few days. This upcoming full moon can be a great time to do some night fishing for walleyes, crappies, or muskie. This year we will be fortunate to have three months of fall full moons. We have this early September full moon, a mid October full moon, and an early November full moon. We don't usually skim over with ice until Thanksgiving time, and early November can easily be comfortable enough to enjoy night fishing during the full moon.
There are several reasons that these fall full moons can provide some fun and exciting action. One reason is that the weather tends to still be pleasant and is made even better by the fact you don't have to contend with the bug problems that June, July, and August typically have.
Another reason for consideration on the positive side of giving night fishing a try in the fall is the fact that the moon also comes up earlier in the fall, as we get dark early. Late nights this time of year start closer to 8 p.m. compared to the 11 p.m. full moon of June. You can get started at dark and get several hours of fishing in and still be home at about the same time you were getting home in June fishing until just after dark.
One more reason to consider a fall full moon trip is the willingness of these fish to feed increases as we transition to the cold-water period. Fish will tend to start to put on the fall "feed bag" in preparation for the upcoming long winter. October and November have long been recognized as a time of year that your opportunity to catch a trophy fish increases as well.
There are three primary ways to fish after dark in the full moon period. Trolling crank baits and slip bobber fishing are the two most common. Wading in shallow water and casting crank baits can also be productive. This is even more successful in current areas that have hard sand bottom, gravel, or rock. Slip float fishing can be adapted to work for crappie, walleye, or muskie. Float sizes, bait types and sizes, and locations are the major considerations for your approach.
You are missing something special if you have never experienced watching a lighted slip bobber disappear into the darkness of the water knowing that a fish is swimming away with your bait.
Most fish will come to shallow water during the fall full moon. Crank bait trollers will want to focus attention to the 6-12 ft water. Primary areas to search out active fish will include the large flats on your favorite lake. Flats that extend furthest out into the lake that have fairly sharp drops to deeper water will be best. Large mid-lake flats can also be areas that fish will concentrate after the sun buries itself in the horizon. If you locate hard sand bottom, rubble, clam beds, or rock piles on your flat, you have found some fish magnet spots.
It will sometimes take a little getting used to being on the water after dark. It can be disorienting at times. Flashlights, spotlights, and headlights or clip-on lights are a must. Bring more warm clothes than you think you will need. Make sure your boat lights are working properly, batteries are fully charged, and experience has taught me, make sure you have enough gas in the boat! Bring some food and snacks (those moonlight picnics in the boat are awesome!) and a cell phone, just in case. Always remember safety first.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)