It’s getting late in the day and the sun is setting, but all you can think about is tying one on. Is it time to get lit? Your kayak, that is. And now you have more choices than ever, as manufacturers provide plenty of lighting options for that late night kayak run to your favorite fishing hole.

lighted kayak fishing in the bay
As the sun begins setting it's critical to light up your fishing kayak.

Fishing at night is often a great way to catch that big fish you’ve been after. Whether it’s a blue catfish, bass, or a snakehead, summer is the time to hit the water after the sun sets or just before it rises to catch your personal best. Some of the biggest fish feed right before the sun rises or well into the night.

But you’ll need to get a light or lights on your kayak. Whether you’re in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, or beyond, the rules say that vessels under oars may display the lights prescribed for sailing vessels. That is a white light on the stern, a red light on the port side of the bow and a green light on the starboard side of the bow. But if not, one must have an electric torch ready at hand or lighted lantern showing a white light to be displayed in sufficient time to prevent collision. Setting the rule aside, it’s just plain smarter — and safer — to use lighting whenever visibility is restricted so boats can easily see you. And remember that if you power your kayak with a motor, electric or other form of propulsion it becomes a motorized vessel and you are required to install navigation lights as described above.

There are several companies that provide lighting. YakAttack, Yakgear, and Scotty are just a few who sell a 360-degree white light mounted on a pole that will fit into your rod holder or rail system. There are several companies that sell lighting in other formats such as West Marine, Gradian Angel, and NIXY who sell running lights. Prices range from $30 to several hundred dollars or more.

lights for kayaks
There's a wide range of kayak lights available to anglers who plan to fish through sunset.

Whether you’re under power or using a pedal or paddle kayak you’ll have different requirements. For a kayak under pedal or paddle a simple flashlight, head lamp, or lantern should suffice on waters where powerboats don’t frequent. But you can go a step further, and when fishing in an area where there’s boat traffic you certainly should. An all-around 360-degree white light on a short pole that’s track mounted or placed into one of the rod holders works well. These are usually powered by batteries, so simply keep the batteries fresh, have spares on-hand, turn it on, and you’re good to go. Once you put an electric motor or other on your kayak you’ll need navigation lights, the bow-mounted red and green with a white light on the stern of the kayak. This type of lighting can also be powered by batteries or you can go with a more expensive type of set up that connects to your fish finder’s battery power. Clamp-on and suction cup battery-powered combination lights are available as well as hard-mounted versions.

So, tie one on and take the cast, but don’t forget to get lit! You never know what’s going to bite after dark.

-By Eric Packard