Night Shift

Finding the right lure-moon combo for night fishing

SEAN OSTRUSZKA, Social Media Liaison


Night fishing is supposed to be simple. You go out at night, throw dark-colored lures and catch big fish. Done and done.

Of course, it’s musky fishing, which means it’s rarely that simple. And while throwing dark-colored Musky Mayhem Cowgirls and Buchertail Depth Raiders will catch you plenty of fish after dark, it’s basically the same thinking as if you were to only throw shad-colored jerkbaits during the day.

Guide Tony Grant spends his summers in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, and more than 300 nights on the water the last four years has proved that just like during the day, muskies respond to certain colors and lures after dark better than others depending on the situation ” more specifically, the light situation. By that, we mean the moon.

Most musky anglers agree that the moon plays a large part in daily fishing, but it can be an even bigger factor after dark because it dictates how much light muskies will have to hunt. Just as how anglers switch colors based on if it’s cloudy or sunny during the day, Grant says it’s smart to do the same after dark.


Bait Selection

Grant says blade baits have been the best night-producing lures over the last few years for not only him and my clients, but most all of his colleagues, too. Plus, lures with large, multiple blades have proven to be even more productive than their single-bladed predecessors.

“I credit much of my clients’ success to blade selection and blade color,” Grant says.

In Grant’s experience, blade color is more important than lure body color. Under low light conditions (new moon or cloudy night), metallic blades in nickel, gold or brass have been Grant’s best performers. Meanwhile, brighter nights call for brighter blades in pink, chartreuse, red or orange.

However, a successful night arsenal must include several other lures. Large-bladed spinnerbaits, Depth Raiders, Musky Innovations Heli-Dawgs and surface baits all have their time and place, and will account for many big muskies during your nighttime approach. It just, again, depends on the moon situation.


Moon phases

The moon’s different stages are a much talked about and debated scenario among not only day-time anglers but especially those whom chase these fish after dark. Grant has listened to many different opinions and explanations on moon phases with an equal amount for better fishing under new and full moons. His clients and him have found great success under both moon phases. However, his approach under different light conditions varies in many ways.

Under brighter, full-moon periods, Grant says muskies tend to stay away from the top-out areas of rocks, mid-lake bars and reefs, instead hanging on edges or away from the structure rather than up on it.

“Muskies just seem to stay slightly further away from the surface when the moon is shining bright,” Grant says.

If an angler really wants to fish offshore, changing lure selection and/or presentations under full moon conditions may just be the key ingredient to a successful outing. Heli-Dawgs; Depth Raiders; large, heavy spinnerbaits like the Llungen Nut Buster; and willow-bladed bucktails like the Llungen Reefer all get down deeper in the water column and make for better options than standard double-10 bucktails. Also, opt for darker-colors on these lures.

Yet, Grant’s usual remedy for these brighter nights is changing location to weeds, where the double-10s and slow-moving topwaters are the best.

Under the periods of low or no-light conditions around the new moon, Grant goes back to those top-out areas on rocks reefs and bars. He’ll look for the shallowest areas of the structure and stay on them.

Here, he like lures with a lot of vibration and noise. Double Cowgirls and Llungen DC10’s are his first choice, but his clients have taken a great amount of fish on Shumway Flashers, Pacemakers and recently even bigger profiles from Musky Mayhem’s Super Model and Shumway’s Giant Flasher.

Just goes to show that there is more to fishing after dark than meets the eye.

Jim Saric

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