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Laabs: Tips for night fishing under the full moon

Brad Laabs column mug
Brad Laabs
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Saturday, Sept. 14, will be a full moon. If you have not fished after sunset and at night in a full moon, this would be a good year to give it a try.

September and October full moons are in the middle of the month and will be very fishable weatherwise this year. Walleyes and musky tend to be the most sought after night fishing opportunities, especially during a full moon phase. The five-day stretch around the full moon (a couple of days before the full moon, full moon, and the two days following actual full moon) can be productive for some numbers of fish, and also has a history of producing the chance at a trophy fish.

One of the most productive ways to night fish in the full moon is to troll crank baits in shallow water ranging from about 6 to 15 feet. Shad style and stick baits both work, but it is worth experimenting, as some styles and colors will work better some nights. With a couple of anglers in the boat you can try different styles, colors and sizes to help figure out what is working best to trigger bites.

Most baits provide depth ranges on the packaging or can be looked up on many different apps. The diving depth is figured with 8- to 10-pound monofilament line set back 110 feet. Hardline or super lines are no stretch lines are more commonly used now as they telegraph the vibration of the lures much better than mono or fluorocarbon lines. Baits will dive deeper with the no-stretch lines (like Fireline, Powerpro, Suffix 832, Spiderwire, etc.) so pay attention and adjust.

It is also much easier to detect if the bait has become fouled with weeds or dragging a small fish with no stretch lines. Many times the bait can be cleared free by an aggressive sweep of the line until you feel the bait vibrating and working properly again if they do become fouled. The best trolling speeds are typically from about 2-2.5 mph. Putting turns zigging and zagging as well as stalling and starting (by pulling out of gear and re-engaging) can help change speeds and trigger bites. If outside lines take more hits ... speed up; if inside lines take hits during swerves ... slow down.


Casting crank baits is another popular moonlight presentation. This is the most popular for shore or dock fisherman. This even works better on the edges of current seems at river inlets and outlets. Fishing from a boat, hold off the edges of the break and cast baits to shallow water retrieving fast enough to keep baits from fouling in weeds. Let the baits tick bottom occasionally when casting over clean hard bottom areas. I have not tried casting Jigging Raps or Rippin' Raps (or similar baits), but I am guessing this will be a new trend that will be as productive as casting the deep diving billed baits. It helps to get on the water before dark and locate fish before the sunset. The fish will move up on the structure after the sun sets and be close to where you found them before dark.

The lighted slip bobber can make for very memorable night fishing trips. It is fun and exciting to watch the lighted bobber get pulled to the darkness of the water. This is a great technique for fishing rock piles. A hook or jig tipped with a leech is the more common summer night approach, but as we get into mid-September, leeches can be difficult to locate and many times are unavailable by mid-October. Leeches will still work on most bodies of water, but switching to the minnow on a hook or glow jig may be the better option.

Dress for the weather, where a headlight, have flashlights in the boat along with your favorite snacks and get out under the full moon this fall. It is hard to describe how cool this experience is, you have to experience it for yourself.

Columnist Brad Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.

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