Everything You Need to Know About Night Anchoring

Night Anchoring

June, July, August and September are prime months of the year for night boating and night fishing. With long, balmy evenings and abundant fish in the waters, there’s no better time to set sail and bed down. If you’re planning on exploring the high waters in the night time, you’ll need to know all about night anchoring.

Read on for insider tips and hints to help you navigate the waters overnight. Plus, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about night boating etiquette and catching fish at night.

Step-by-Step Guide to Night Anchoring

For some people, the thought of sleeping on the water is intimidating. We love it and want to share our exclusive method of anchoring a boat at night, so you feel safe, secure and confident.

  1. Find the perfect place to anchor for the night. You’ll need to make sure you do some planning in advance to find the right place to lower your anchor securely. Consider the depth and scope of the water and make sure you have enough length. Choose a spot with plenty of space in a location protected from strong winds and large waves.
  2. Check the charts for shipwrecks and rocky bottoms so you can drop the hook safely to the water bed. With night anchoring, we recommend doing this well in advance, so you’re not scrambling around in the dark to find a spot.
  3. We’ve discovered that it’s best to use a chain when you’re anchoring overnight, especially if your boat is particularly heavy. If you have a lighter boat, the added weight of the windlass and chain rode might be too much.
  4. If you’d like extra security while night boating, you can always use two anchors. Attach one to the stern and one to the bow, so one secures the other in case it loses its grip. If you’re in a location where the bottom is unavoidably rocky or the weather is choppy, double anchoring at night could be a good idea.
  5. After dropping the anchor, you should wait for half an hour to see if it’s set. To make sure, put your boat in reverse and check it holds once the line runs out.
  6. Set up a night fishing station or get tucked up in bed.

5 Top Night Fishing Tips

If you choose to spice up your night boating session with some night fishing, we’ve put together some helpful tips to give you the best chance of catching a whopper.

1. Use Visual Markers

It’s not as easy to hit a pre-baited spot in the pitch dark as it is during the day, that’s for sure. To make sure bait lands where you want it to, take note of large visual markers that you’ll be able to see at night during the day. You’ll still be able to see a massive tree in the pitch dark, so you can use that as a basis for your aim. Although you might not have such a perfect shot as you did during the day, it doesn’t mean knowing the general area isn’t useful, making sure bait lands in the desired area when night fishing.

2. Lay Out Everything You Need Beside You

When you’re night boating, preparation is the key to pretty much everything. If you leave it until it gets dark before you start getting your equipment ready, the entire process is going to feel much labored and way less fun than it should. Place a tarp or blanket next to do and set up your unhooking station, so it’s ready to go. You’ll need scales, sling, antiseptic, forceps and lake water. Make sure you don’t keep your unhooking station in the way of a through-route — the last thing you want is to step in everything.

3. Try Glow-in-the-Dark Bait

We’ve heard a rumor that glow-in-the-dark bait can be hugely effective when it comes to night fishing. Some species of fish are drawn to bright colors, making them more likely to bite at night. You can get small grains of artificial corn that glow, and they’re easy to charge up extra using your headlamp. If you’re not sure about changing over from your trusty bait, you can try using a glow-in-the-dark hair rig stop.

4. Use Isotopes

You can get isotopes in all shapes, sizes and colors. They’re usually super cheap and handy for night boating, night fishing and night anchoring. Some bivvies even have them built into the zip, and they’re much more energy-efficient than a typical torch. They’re also less volatile and prone to breakages, so we can’t see why any keen night angler would set sail without at least one. You can even sew smaller ones onto the boss of your landing net or fit them to bobbins to make them easy to find at night.

5. Keep an Emergency Night Fishing Kit

You must keep a small emergency night boating kit with essentials such as plasters, antiseptic wipes and insect repellants. As we all know, fishing comes with its hazards. You can get tiny little kits that contain everything you need to protect yourself while night fishing without taking up too much space on the boat. Of course, you have your cell phone in case a serious emergency hits. Make sure you have the number of the local coast guard programmed into your phone, just in case.

Handy Night Anchoring Hints

We’ve told you pretty much everything you need to know about how to find the right night anchoring spot and getting set up. However, over the thousands of years that people have been sailing, there’s quite a lot of etiquette to get your head around. At night, you’ll find there are even more unwritten rules that you should be aware of.

Night Anchoring is First-Come-First-Serve

The first boat to arrive is the one that sets a precedent for everyone else. If you come in later, you must respect the swing radii and space needs of your fellow boaters. This includes considerations such as the behavior of other boaters, method of anchoring and the type of boat. It’s not essential that you find out exactly which boat set a precedent, but you should carefully consider what the majority is doing and act accordingly.

No Wake Zones

No wake zones are precisely that — areas where people do not want to be disturbed or woken up. You should drive super carefully in these areas and go out of your way to be quiet and inoffensive. The coast guard can fine you if you’re deemed to be in breach of the harbor’s rules. The boating community is welcoming, and you’ll make lots of friends, provided you adhere to the accepted standards and act responsibly.

Think Carefully About Boat Lighting

Over the top lighting at night isn’t just irritating; it poses a serious hazard during night boating sessions. An anchor light is a legal requirement. Adorning your boat with lots of pretty lights might seem like a fantastic idea at the time, but it can distract away from that crucial anchor light. Plus, when you’re lots of lights, you need to use a generator. As such, most people who flood harbors with light create light pollution and noise pollution in an otherwise picturesque spot. Never be one of these people!

Respect Your Boating Neighbors

Remember, when you’re night boating, you’re under even more scrutiny than you would be in a typical harbor. Although you have your private space in a boat, you’re close to everyone else. This means raised voices, agitation and any kind of confrontation are easily picked up on by your neighbors. Show due care and respect by keeping to yourself and not overreacting to annoyances, such as someone parking their boat right next to yours.

Watch Out for the Magnet Effect

Although the majority of boats are made from plastic, something you’ll notice when you’re night anchoring is the magnet effect. This describes the strange phenomenon that means you could drop your hook in the most secluded area in the world, and the next boat to enter the harbor will park right next to you. Bear in mind that if you were there first, you could politely ask them to move. If you’re the offending boater — they can do the same to you.

As with most things, the golden rule of night boating and night anchoring is to treat others as you’d like them to treat you. Other no-nos include anchoring in the middle of channels, driving too fast and creating unnecessary noise when people are trying to sleep.

More Than Just Night Boating

Check out more of our awesome guides to navigating the waters and choosing boats.

Chris Blackwell Avatar
About Chris Blackwell

Chris is an avid angler and boating enthusiast. Raised on a small lake he spent most of his youth fishing in Jon Boats and water skiing behind Fiberglass boats. Chris enjoys taking his family out on the water so they can relive the fun he has always had.

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