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SteveD

Cat Tip of the Day: Boat Night Light Options

26 posts in this topic

For those of us that fish late at night in the dark, a good boat light can be worth its weight in gold. Night time boat lighting is one of those things that is better to have and not need than to need and not have.

If you are looking for boat lighting and electrical power options there are a lot of things on the market available to use. Your lighting options are better if you can take advantage of standard 110 volt lights. Today’s power inverters that convert 12 Volt battery DC power to AC power allow you to take advantage of standard household and utility lights. There are a lot of different approaches for tapping a boat’s trolling motor batteries to obtain a power source. Trolling motor batteries are a good source of power but if you don’t want to drain your trolling motor batteries another good source of power is a portable battery pack. I use a Black and Decker Start It Jump Starter that provides a standard 12volt DC outlet. Plug a small 100 Watt power Inverter into the power pack’s 12V DC outlet and you’ve now got standard household current available and can run just about any light fixture you want to use.

The trick to using portable battery power is to not use high wattage lights or electrical equipment. For battery life less wattage is better. For lighting options the greatest thing going is the new low wattage florescent bulbs. You can get the illumination equivalent of a normal 100 Watt light bulb from one of today’s 20 watt florescent bulbs and that bulb will give you several hours of run time on your battery pack. Early and late in the year when the bugs are not bad I run a 23 watt bright white florescent bulb that puts out the equivalent of a 100 watt bulb. It lights up the whole boat and out about 6' all around the boat. When the bugs are bad in the heat of the summer I run a low wattage amber bug light that still gives me plenty of light but keeps the bugs down to a minimum. By using the low wattage bulbs you can run lights off and on all night if you want and have power to spare.

One of the best overall night lighting options for your fishing boat is a standard clamp-on utility light. They are inexpensive, can be moved quickly and easily, and can be stowed in any small boat compartment. They accept any standard size light bulb so they give you plenty of flexibility for lighting. When looking for utility lights try to find one with the longest cord possible and be sure to get the aluminum shade that screw on the light base, this shade helps to provide a bright and focused light. On my pontoon boat I run two utility lights and they just clamp right on the bimini top and light up the whole pontoon from bow to stern. It only takes a few seconds to move them around if I need more light for any reason.

BatteryPackIDA.jpg

In order to provide the best light coverage for my fishing boat I made a 6 1/2' light pole that fits in the front casting platform seat socket. I just mounted a standard outdoor light receptacle on a 6 ½ foot piece of PVC pipe. The PVC fits into an extra seat base that I had available so it fits right into the seat socket on the casting platform.

BoatLightBase.jpg

I wired the light socket using a cheap 15’ extension cord that I snipped off and wired into the outdoor light receptacle.

BoatLighttop.jpg

The pole light is rigged up so that from my fishing seat I can just reach out and snap it on. When fishing for flatheads, after all the rods are rigged, baited and in the water I will usually turn the light off but snap it back on as soon as I detect a bite. When drift fishing for channels I leave the light on all the time. When drifting I use the light to watch my rods, the locator and and GPS so I can keep track of drift lines, drift speed, and other boats that may be out.

Once you have AC power in your boat there are several other things that you can use to make fishing easier.

#1: You can now run a standard 110 volt AC aquarium air pump. Plug in the air pump and run the air hose into the live bait bucket with an airstone attached. This type of air pump is whisper quiet and it keeps your bait alive and perky.

#2: You can run an electric knife off the power inverter and it makes cleaning fish or cutting up bait a breeze.

#3: Life doesn’t get any better than this – you can power a small TV and actually watch some of the Twins games while out chasing catfish in the dark.

#4: The portable Power Pack will provide you backup battery power for those emergency situations. More than once I have turned my motor crank late at night and had the battery groan at me and fail to start the motor. The power pack is handy to have available when this situation comes up.

#5: If you rig up a light pole it will help you out coming and going. Here is a picture of the light pole - you can see how it lights up the boat. It is really nice when it is time to pull the boat out late at night at the boat launch. Just swing it around so it throws the most light on the bow of the boat and on the trailer winch. It really helps speed up getting the boat out of the water after a long night of fishing.

BoatLt4.jpg

Good Fishing!!

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shocked All right I have to get out with you atleast once or twice this year and see the your boat.

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You are on Ace. We'll hook up when the St Croix cat bite turns on a little later this spring.

Steve

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I'll be there with bells on. Never done any Cattin on the croix just walleyes. Nothing better then doing some cattin with the Twins in the back ground.

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I've seen this tip of yours before Steve but it is a great idea, especially on the Croix where fishing boats seam to be hard to find.

I've got a little modification I'm going to do to your idea this year involving a shepherds hook birdfeeder pole and a little disco ball for those nights when we are pulling them in left and right. Party! grin

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Yes, the Flouro lights are nice. I have one mounted in the boat and if I wish, I can light it up like daylight.

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I took an old rear boat light and mounted a 12 volt bulb like the ones in fishouses and remounted the flush mount recptical on the boat. so it plugs in and out nice and it stows really nice and this yr I think I'm going to do the inverter with led light stick already use an inverter for my bait why noy lights thanks for the Idea

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I have an inverter, and clamp on utility light like Steve's. I threw in a flouro flood light that is housed in an outdoor type bulb (thick glass). It works pretty good and takes little energy.

Now if you have a good battery and large inverter like LFC, you can hook up a couple of halogen work lights and light up the whole river valley. If you come around the corner and see what looks like a little night road construction going on, its probably just LFC boating a big fish.

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Nice tip Steve. I just received a new spotlight and I was wondering what the rules and regulations are for having spotlights on while navigating at night. I have a handheld spotlight that works well but would like to incorporate steve's idea with the pvc on my high powered light. I think my fishing partners get sick of me blasting the light at em' when I navigate at night. Securely elevating a spotlight above my line of site would help with visibility I would think. Just curious if someone has any experience doing this and how effective it is.

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I just got a nice 12v fluro light out of a semi truck sleeper for the boat this year. They work great in my fish house as well.

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When it comes to night time light, Steve knows his stuff. Good tips Steve smile

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Would a low tech version of this be a Coleman lantern and a shepherd's hook? - has anyone tried that?

Not as convenient as flipping a switch and it won't allow you to watch the Twins game, but those are better listened to than watched anyway.

Just thought I'd offer a suggestion for the frugal-minded!

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We use a coleman from time to time on shore if we don't light a fire. I like the Shepherd's hook idea!

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I like the Shepherd's hook idea!

Not mine, I saw it out on Mille Lacs years ago when I was a kid. It was midnight of the Walleye opener, it was calm and there were several boats rigged with lanterns.

I've bank fished with a lantern. In the height of summer with all the bugs, it's like your dorky cousin - OK to have around as long as the two of you keep your distance!

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Would a low tech version of this be a Coleman lantern and a shepherd's hook? - has anyone tried that?

...

Just thought I'd offer a suggestion for the frugal-minded!

I think I'd spend more money in lantern globes, mantles, and 1 lb propane cylinders for my lantern than I would on a clamp-on light with a CFL bulb in it. In addition to being cheaper, the electric route has, as you say, the added convenience factor.

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I have gone threw too many lanterns ice fishing and shore fishing over the years. I will not go back grin

Steve's tip on the clamp lights is the way to go. I run two with 60w bulbs in them (one on each side of the boat) then run them off an aux. back-up starting battery, with a $40 inverter.

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Plenty of light, with out the fuel and other stuff that goes with lanterns. Put both of them on one side and wow! Just flip them on when needed.

I have courtesy lights in my boat that light up things when needed and always have the headlamp. If higher light is needed, I clamp them on 6' rear stern light pole. If in a pinch, the windshield in my boat works also.

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Personally I prefer the 500 watt halogen work light mounted on a 6ft pole with a remote switch to fire on command. To counter the harshness of the light for filming I've got a couple ideas to try this season.

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I also have a 6ft pole at the front of the boat with a 600watt halogen light for filming. It will light up the whole inside of the boat.

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I also have a 6ft pole at the front of the boat with a 600watt halogen light for filming. It will light up the whole inside of the boat.

Show us a movie......... From your boat with the light.. whistle

I want to see the difference between a 500wt and 600wt wink

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Tom, your light pole retracts correct?

To counter the harshness of the light for filming I've got a couple ideas to try this season.

I got a new video camera last fall, with a hot-shoe and bought the biggest light I could get for this camera to help with this. This camera even has night vision grin

Those utility lights on a pole are very slick and do put off some bookoo light wink Larry, you got me thinking now grin

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There are also 20, 40, 60, or even 72 cluster LED spotlights in Red, Green, Blue, and soft white (Red and Green attract less bugs) that use a fraction of the amps/juice and are very shock resistant.

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Adding a 12 V dimmer to the line you can trim your brightness as needed, works well.

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I've been wondering how a guy could keep pizza warm in the boat...problem solved grin

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Ed - Where do you find these LED Cluster lights?

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