The recent stretch of hot weather has lowered water levels and raised the temperature in our lakes and rivers and sent trout under cover. The bright sunny days also make for poor fishing as most fish are not very active under these conditions.
Anglers hoping to catch a fish or two have to wait for a change in the weather or concentrate on fishing early in the morning or late in the evening. During these low light periods fish will tend to be more active. In some areas of Nova Scotia anglers can fish into the night in the hope of catching a big fish.
Night fishing has been a popular pastime in parts of North America for many years but it is only in the past several years that anglers in Nova Scotia have had the opportunity to sample this aspect of the sport. Local anglers can night fish for brown trout in three areas. From April 15 to Aug. 31, anglers may fish James River from the dam downstream to where it enters West River, Antigonish, and on River John, in the section from West Branch Bridge to the Welsford Bridge.
During the open season the Stewiacke from Lansdowne Bridge downstream to the Bridge in Stewiacke East, is also open for brown trout. In addition, most areas of the province allow you to fish for two hours after sunset. This will allow you to be on the water until almost 11 p.m. during the summer.
Fishing at night adds another dimension to the sport. While you are at a disadvantage in terms of seeing where you are fishing you have the benefit on being on the river during the time trout are on the prowl. Big trout don’t get that way by being stupid. They have survived by being very wary and that means not showing themselves during the day. They become active at night when they can move into shallow water after food. This may range from minnows and flies to mice.
Although it is dark you still have to move carefully to avoid spooking these fish. There is no question night fishing can be dangerous and you should never fish a pool that you have not fished in daylight and know very well. It is too easy to fall into a hole or trip over a log if you attempt to wade unfamiliar water at night. You should also never fish at night by yourself, always take a partner.
Gear for night fishing is not that much different from daytime fishing. If you are fishing bait you might want to include a spinner that makes some noise in the water. Fly fishing calls for fairly big flies that will move some water and make a commotion. Many anglers swear by mouse imitations for night fishing brown trout and there is no question mice and shrews make up a big part of their diet.
If you fish safely, in familiar waters, night fishing can give you a chance to fish for some big trout in their natural element and there is also a good chance you will have the river to yourself.
Don MacLean is an outdoor writer and biologist who lives in Pictou County.