Installing Dock Lights to Attract Fish

Six tips to help you catch more fish around dock lights.

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Dock lights at night
Dock lights attract a variety of fish. Andre Babiak / Alamy Stock Photo

Chris Britton (grayghostcharters.com) is a snook and tarpon specialist who fishes the complex waterways at the mouth of the St. Lucie River. He fishes dock lights regularly, looking for places where the water is deep, the current is strong, and bait is present. “If a light presents a giant, distinct shadow line,” Britton says, “that’s the dock I’m going to fish.”

1. Use Amber Lights

“Dock-light color is very important. I personally like an amber light. I don’t really like to fish a green light. In my area, at least, green lights are catfish lights. We do get snook on the green lights, but I don’t catch giants. I just catch more fish on a white or an amber light.”

2. Create Multiple Shadow Lines

“If you’ve got good current on both tides, put your light underneath the end of the dock or, better yet, high up on a piling so it shines down and creates a shadow line on both sides of the dock. If you have an L-shaped dock, put that light right where the dock turns 90 degrees. That way, you can have two sides to the shadow line.”

4. Don’t Fish from the Dock

“The biggest mistake that people make is fishing from the dock. Those fish, they wise up once they start feeling your dock shake. If you’re walking out there, you’re not going to get a fish. Cast from the shore if you can, or fish it from a boat.”

5. Lighten Your Leader

“If you’re looking for a 30-plus-inch fish, those fish aren’t dumb. They’re educated. They see the same baits every night. If you’re going to fish a bright light, especially in the clear water we have around here, drop down to 30- or 40-pound fluoro with a hook that’s big enough to penetrate the mouth of the fish, but not so big that the fish can see it.”

6. Put Your Light on a Timer

“Some people don’t like it when you’re fishing behind their house at 10 o’clock at night. I’ve had them come out and yell at me. Sometimes they’ll shut off the light. If you don’t want people behind your house at night, put your light on a timer.”

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