Fly Fishing Adventures

Fly Fishing for Monster Stillwater Trout by the Light of the Moon

Fly Fishing for Monster Stillwater Trout by the Light of the Moon

By Paul Laemmlen

Please enjoy our guest blog from our friend and customer Paul Laemmlen.  This really is a great read and makes you think about some overlooked opportunities for giant trout.  


Fly Fishing at NightFly Fishing at Night


I had been looking forward to the 14th of June all year. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the full Strawberry Moon would rise on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. This moon was unique because it wasn’t an ordinary full moon, but a SUPERMOON, appearing larger and brighter than other full moons.

As a teenager I remember reading stories in Outdoor Life and Field & Stream magazines about fishermen catching huge trout at night. Night fishing had always intrigued me, and in all of my years of fly fishing, for one reason or another, I had only experienced limited success at night and had never seriously pursued these big twilight fish with a fly rod.

Last week. My brother Eric, and I headed out to Northern Colorado to fish a lake we had been to, located in North Park for the last few seasons. We arrived on Monday afternoon and set up camp along the shore of the lake. The wind was fierce at the 8,000-plus-foot elevation, so we hunkered down in camp for the rest of the day and watched the whitecaps and the plentiful wildlife around the lake. We observed deer, Antelope, Bald Eagles, Pelicans, Great Blue Herons and Muskrats.


Blue Heron in ColoradoBlue Heron in Colorado


Our first night out on the lake was an eye-opener. After sundown, the wind died down to a tolerable level for us to climb into our Super Fat Cats and fin our way out to an area of the lake where we knew baitfish hung out in the shallows. It took a good half-hour to get there using only fins (there were no roads we could use to drive closer). An hour after getting on the water, we were in place and were pleased to see an eastern glow begin to appear on the horizon. It soon became a huge yellow moon which rose into the night sky, becoming a bright, white orb, a perfect scenario for baitfish-hunting monster trout.

We had prepared well with gear designed to handle big fish. A 5-weight rod is great for most trout waters but for this type of fishing, a 5-weight is inadequate and under-powered. These trout commonly run over ten pounds and will do blistering runs deep into the backing. On this trip I fished a Pescador on the Fly, Econ 101, 8-weight, 9-foot rod, which cast beautifully and performed flawlessly. I used a WF floating line and a 9-foot leader, tipped with 25-pound hard nylon. That sounds like overkill, but this rod/line setup turned the loop-knot-attached fly over perfectly on hundreds of blind casts in the dark where water slap and presentation commotion was not an issue. 90% of the fish caught on this trip were caught on Kelly Galloup’s Sex Dungeon articulated flies.

Kelly Galloup's Sex Dungeon Articulated FlyKelly Galloup's Sex Dungeon Articulated Fly


Big trout need big food. They need to conserve energy by eating meat, and leave small bugs for their smaller brothers. At night, the big boys come out for dinner, hunting for a meal in the shallows. Baitfish live in the shallows where water is warmer (less oxygenated) and there is generally more cover there, like reeds and moss. You don’t find big fish there in the daylight hours, where they retreat to the deeper, colder water to wait out the day.

Monster Rainbow Trout at Night

Monster Rainbow Trout at Night


All of the fish we caught were hooked in 1 to 3 feet of water. The techniques that worked best were casting to the shore and retrieving in short 6-inch or varied strips, sight casting to rising (swirling) fish and drifting the fly over the shallow bays–you could call it trolling. Sight casting IN THE DARK? It’s not as crazy as it sounds. We are talking about a full moon here.... you can see disturbances on the water in the reflection of the moonlight, and when you hear the slurping and slashing of fish- you need to pull your line in and lob a cast to them as quickly as you can, a technique which worked for me on this big brown trout. A second similar-sized brown fell to the same strategy 15 minutes later.


Big Brown Trout on the Fly at Night
Big Brown Trout on the Fly at Night


It takes discipline to pull your waders on in the middle of the night when all of the other fishermen are warm, resting in their campers and trailers, and then head out on the water in the dark, to wait for the moonrise! On our last night, we ate a late dinner, then headed out on the lake at 10:30 to be in place as the moon rose at 11:30. We stayed on the water and fished all night, finally coming in after fishing at first light and sunrise at 7AM.

We saw no other anglers on any of the nights we fished. Most fly fishermen we saw concentrated their fishing on chironomids under bobbers or drifting leeches from pontoon boats during the day (while we napped). In three nights’ fishing, we caught over a dozen trout, (browns and rainbows), ranging from 4 to 10 pounds. After this trip I have committed to buying a bigger net!

Giant Streamer Caught Rainbow
Giant Streamer Caught Rainbow


There is nothing like being on the water in the Rocky Mountains at night, under the expanse of the Milky Way, catching monster trout, to the serenade chorus of Coyotes howling at the full moon. Night fishing is definitely unconventional fly fishing and it’s not for everybody, but if you are after trophy-sized trout, the rewards are well worth it!

Huge Rainbow Trout on the Fly - Streamer Fishing at NightHuge Rainbow Trout on the Fly - Streamer Fishing at Night


Paul Laemmlen is a fly fishing and wildlife artist from Cedar Hills, Utah.  His artwork can be found at

Thanks for sharing your adventure with us Paul!  We look forward to hearing about your next adventure.  Until next time, tight lines my friends!  Jeff

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