Outdoor Storytellers – Night Fishing

LEWISTON — Most outdoor activities are done in the day time, but for some fisherman in North Idaho, the night is the best time to be on the water.

Along the Clearwater River, a handful of fishermen gather under the city lights of the nearby city of Lewiston, Idaho.

Eric Elben is one of these nighttime fishermen, and he took us out on the water to show us what the fishing is like under the cover of night.

The moon was not out and the weather was cold, but Eric did not seem to mind.

“I like being on the water just at night. It’s pretty pleasant at night,” Eric said. “I like watching the lights on the water. It’s kinda cool being out here. I think so.”

As we troll through the darkness, we use lures that blink red from an internal L.E.D. light. The light not only helps us see the line, but it also attracts the steelhead to the bait. However, even with the lights, each catch takes several hours to land.

“This night-time fish average is really, hours per fish, is really high. These guys are putting in, if they’re just out here trolling like this fish to fish. They could easily be upwards of 20 hours per fish,” Eric said.

Although time between catches may seem like a long wait, for the night fishermen, the amount of fish is only a small part of the experience of night fishing.

“Most people know that fishing is fishing, in general, but a lot of people think that when you’re with a guided trip that even the best guides struggle getting fish some days,” Eric said. “But a lot of times people get that conception that when you’re with a guide, a professional, that it should be more of a clock-work deal and sometimes it is and sometimes it’s not.”

Since we had a lot of down time, Eric began to talk about his time on the water, and why he became a professional guide.

“I really enjoy the people. Just taking people out that I’ve fished with from years past or new people that get to experience fishing or guiding or toured,” Eric said. “Everybody enjoys it. I enjoy sharing that with other people.”

Then, under the most improbable of circumstances, we snagged a steelhead on one of hour lures. It may have taken 20 hours to catch, but it was well worth our time spent on the water.