Night Fishing for Trout — Bank Water

by | Aug 12, 2018 | 0 comments

** This Troutbitten article is part of the Night Fishing for Trout series. You can find the full list of articles here. **

On the luckiest nights, large and medium sized trout move to the shallows, searching for an easy meal. Trout visit thin water when they feel protected by the cover of darkness, and because they find baitfish of all types unguarded and ready to be devoured. This is also when trout are most vulnerable to the skilled night fisher.

I have a bank-first approach on most nights, hoping I may hit it right and find actively feeding fish near the edges. On some rivers I wade to the middle and fish back to the boundary. And where the water is too deep to wade the center, I may stay tight to the bank, working downstream by swinging my flies or working upstream against the bank and drifting them. Regardless of the presentation used, bank water is my first target.

It’s not all the same, of course. There are deep undercuts around the outside bends, and shallow gravel bars on the insides. And while all of it’s worth a shot, I have my favorite — give me the shallow stuff.

First Crack

The rooted undercut banks with deep holding water are hard to pass up. And I’ll cast to them, but not first. I like shallow bank water best — from eight inches to two feet of depth and close to the bank. Trout here seem most willing to feed at night, and if I catch one I expect to hook a few more in the same type of water. Trout like to do what their friends are doing.

Perhaps the banks are most productive because they provide the best target. Even on darker nights, an angler gains a good sense about where the edge of the river is located. There may be similar water nearby (and it may hold baitfish), but it can be harder to find and fish effectively than the edge of a river.

“Trout here seem most willing to feed at night, and if I catch one I expect to hook a few more in the same type of water. Trout like to do what their friends are doing.”

So I spend a good half of my nights fishing the perimeters. And good bank water is found with varying speeds. I have confidence in sections that flow at a healthy jogging pace, and I like lazy backwater that’s barely moving. Everything in between those two speeds is a good target. Seasonally, if the river is warming and approaching the high sixties (Fahrenheit), I find fewer fish in the backwater and more in the riffles. However, that preference might flip in the colder months.

Look around. Prime bank water at night may very well be the kind of place you’d walk through during the day. It’s right where you might stand to cast into the deeper stuff. At night, try reversing your impulse — stand in the deep water and fish to the shallows. And if that doesn’t work, then by all means, cast to the other bank too.

Search for areas like deep buckets and troughs, places where you might nymph up the largest trout during a day trip. Then find the water next to it that tapers out to a level just ankle deep. Start there. On many nights, the trout start there too.

Fish hard, friends.


Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


Share This Article . . .

Since 2014 and 600 articles deep
Troutbitten is a free resource for all anglers
Your support is greatly appreciated

– Explore These Post Tags –

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

More from this Category

Dry Fly Fishing — The Forehand and Backhand Curve

Dry Fly Fishing — The Forehand and Backhand Curve

Learning to use the natural curve that’s present in every cast produces better drag free drifts than does a straight line.

It takes proficiency on both the forehand and backhand.

I’ve seen some anglers resist casting backhand, just because it’s uncomfortable at first. But, by avoiding the backhand, half of the delivery options are gone. So, open up the angles, understand the natural curve and get better drag free drifts on the dry fly . . .

Stabilize the Fly Rod with the Forearm

Stabilize the Fly Rod with the Forearm

A steady and balanced sighter is important from the beginning, because effective tight line drifts are short. But there’s one overlooked way to stabilize the sighter immediately — tuck the rod butt into the forearm.

Here’s how and why . . .

Tight Line and Euro Nymphing: Tracking the Flies

Tight Line and Euro Nymphing: Tracking the Flies

Regardless of the leader choice, angle of delivery, or distance in the cast, every tight liner must choose whether to lead, track or guide the flies downstream. So the question here is how do you fish these rigs, not how they are put together.

Good tracking is about letting the flies be more affected by the current than our tippet. Instead of bossing the flies around and leading them downstream, we simply track their progress in the water.

Tracking is the counterpoint to leading. Instead of controlling the speed and position of the nymphs through the drift, we let the flies find their own way . . .

Thoughts on Rod Tip Recovery

Thoughts on Rod Tip Recovery

Rod tip recovery is the defining characteristic of a quality fly rod versus a mediocre one.

Cast the rod and watch it flex. Now see how long it takes for the rod tip to stop shaking. Watch for a complete stop, all the way to a standstill — not just the big motions, but the minor shuddering at the end too.

Good rods recover quickly. They may be fast or slow. They may be built for power or subtly, but they recover quickly. They return to their original form in short order.

Here’s why . . .

A Simple Slidable Foam Pinch-On Indy

A Simple Slidable Foam Pinch-On Indy

One of the joys of fly fishing is problem solving. There are so many tools available, with seemingly infinite tactics to discover, it seems like any difficult situation on the water can be solved. Perhaps it can. For those anglers who search for answers in tough moments, the prospect of solving a puzzle builds lasting hope into every cast. And after seasons on the water, the game becomes not how many trout we can catch, but how many ways those trout can be caught. Then, when presented with conditions that chase fair-weather fishers off the water, we rise to the moment with a tested solution, perfectly adapted and suited for the variables at hand.

There is not one way. There are a hundred ways. And the best anglers are prepared with all of them.

One of them is the slidable foam pinch on indy . . .

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Articles

Pin It on Pinterest