PODCAST: Night Fishing for Trout: Lights, Natural and Artificial — S8, Ep2

by | Aug 27, 2023 | 9 comments

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In this second part of the Night Fishing for Trout Skills Series on Troutbitten, we consider light. First the naturals, like moonlight and starlight, then we discuss city lights and other artificials, like our own flashlights and headlamps. Lastly, we’ll discuss the use of glow-in-the-dark stuff, like fly lines, indicators and more.

I’m joined by my night fishing friends, Austin Dando, Trevor Smith and Josh Darling.

Night fishing always comes down to what we can see and what we can’t. Of course we use our other senses. And yes, those senses are heightened, and we often rely on feel more than our limited sight in the relative darkness.

But it is not pitch black out there, especially when we attain and then preserve good night vision. So we navigate the evening from shadows and outlines, pitching unseen flies beyond the visible perimeter and tracking those flies through the feel of a line in our hand, by sensing the load on our rod tip and by sometimes following something that glows in the dark.

Light affects the fishing, but it also affects the fish. And while trout seem to prefer darker nights, they might also feed better with a few stars in the sky for a nightlight.


READ: Troutbitten | Category | Night Fishing
READ: Troutbitten | Night Fishing for Trout — Moonlight, Starlight and City Light
READ: Troutbitten | Night Fishing for Trout — Headlamps, Flashlights and Glow in the Dark Stuff
PODCAST: Troutbitten | An Introduction to Night Fishing for Trout — S3, Ep14

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Season Eight of the Troutbitten Podcast continues next week, as you consider the difference between drifting and swinging flies. So look for S8 Ep3 in your Troutbitten podcast feed.

Fish hard, friends.


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Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


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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.

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  1. Couple of articles on trout vision which make me think that light at night for trout is like having a bright light in our eyes. It takes awhile to see clearly again and we have eyelids to protect our eyes so imagine having a bright light shine at you at night. You just can’t see anything. Also make you think of that magic hour at dawn and dusk has to do with their vision as the light is changing.

    “Unlike humans, trout use only one type of receptor or the other most of the time, typically either the cones or the rods, although there’s a brief period of overlap at dawn and dusk, when fish use both receptors. The cones are used during the day for incredibly sharp, full-color vision, but the ultrasensitive rods are disengaged to protect them from bright daylight. At night, the cones disengage, and trout exclusively use the rods to see in the dark.

    The downside (or upside if you’re an angler) is that trout cannot see color at night. Instead, fish rely on seeing contrast between objects. ”


    The scotopic visual sensitivity of four species of trout: A comparative study


    • Good stuff. I’ve dug into the research a bit too, through the years. I do not believe that trout don’t see color. In pitch black, and in very deep water, okay. But in the conditions we fish mostly, there is no doubt in my mind that trout prefer certain colors over others at night.

  2. Guys, I would take a look at how natural and artificial light affects the food sources available to trout in the streams you are fishing in. Trout movement and their feeding habits will be based upon the movement and feeding habits of those food sources. How light affects those food sources is key.

    • Good stuff. That’s for sure — know what the food is doing. And we’ve mentioned this a bit, that if you shine a light in shallow water at night, in many places, the riverbed is just crazy with life. Many times, around here, it’s sculpins and crayfish.

  3. Hey thanks for calling out the black diamond head lamp! I have been looking for one that goes directly to red without having to cycle through white and green. The dimming memory is also cool. I just got mine today and I am looking forward to taking it for a spin.

      • Thanks guysI bought the Fred headlamp and I like it a lot. The only downside is sometimes it feels comforting to blast a big beam of lights into the woods.

  4. Absolutely love this new podcast series! A great group of serious and dedicated night stalkers sharing their well-earned wisdom. Gary Borger made a great point about this pursuit, he said it’s not just fly fishing in the dark – everything about it changes when Sun goes down. He stressed the fact that we may be fishing in the same river that we fish in the day, but we are fishing in a completely different, nocturnal ecosystem, with a subset of the trout population that preys on a completely different cast of critters. Not to mention the beavers and bats and all of the other things that go bump in the night.

    A quick astronomy note: The apparent motion of the Moon (14.5 degrees/hr.) through the night sky is actually a bit slower than that of the Sun (15 degrees/hr.) due to the eastward orbit of the Moon at 0.5 degrees/hr. It may seem faster just because our senses/perceptions are skewed by being in the dark. This also explains why moonrise is about 50 minutes later each night and why we have about the same time lag in the tides as well.

    Wednesday’s (8/30) blue, super Moon was a rare treat if you were out there, as they occur only once every ten years on average. Won’t happen again until 2037 when we will get the extremely rare opportunity to see two, nearly back-to-back blue, super Moons in January and again in March.

    • Good stuff, Rick. Thank you. My perception is clearly wrong then!


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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.

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