In many lakes, the fish are not that active during the hottest parts of the day, or even very much at all during the day when the heat of summer kicks in. When the shallow water reaches high temperature levels, the oxygen levels tend to drop and the fish in this type of water will become inactive. Crappie are no exception, and while they’re a deeper dwelling fish by nature, they also become more active at night during the summer months. If you’ve been thinking of filling your cooler with crappie this summer, and night fishing has been calling your name, here are a few tips to help you.
When you’re looking for a great lake to night fish for crappie, there will be key factors to seek out. For instance, ideal night-fishing lakes are generally deep, fairly clear, and exceed several hundred acres. They are fertile, support abundant bait fish, and have a good mix of structure and cover with areas of open water nearby.
Once you’re actually out on the lake seeking crappie, it’s helpful to study a bottom contour map of the lake to get a good idea of where they will most likely be. Most summer crappie congregate in deep, open water near break lines where there’s a sudden change in depth on the lake bottom, so look for elevation markings indicating deep ledges, creek and river channels, points, ridges and humps.
While crappie in most prime summer lakes will be near deep underwater structure, keep in mind that some structures are better than others. Overflowing stream channels are among the best of these. Start at the mouth of a major tributary, and then troll back and forth across the area, using sonar to follow the edge of the channel drop while looking for humps, points, bends, lines of timber and other structure that concentrates fish. Furthermore, outside bends and junctions of two channels are great hotspots when you find a stream channel.
Make sure to preplan your night fishing trip thoroughly. Know exactly where you’ll fish when darkness falls, which can be plotted out by prospecting potential spots during the day. Also, be sure you can find each fishing spot after nightfall.
If you’re fishing at night, you’ll need lights. Many different types of crappie lights are available for the night fisherman, all of which can be helpful when fishing between dusk and dawn, but knowing how to use each correctly is necessary for success. The reason lights work so well is that the lights attract insects, which attract bait fish, which attract crappie. If you plan on using other baits, and don’t want the insect company, go with a green light; green doesn’t attract bugs.
It may be difficult to tell where the crappie are, even with the added light, so having several rigs in the water at the same time can help pinpoint where they’re holding. Make adjustments to the boat or lights to get positioned over the fish and set baits at different depths. The key is to get your bait down to where fish are feeding but not beneath or above the strike zone.
Nighttime fishing has long been a favorite way to fish for crappie by many anglers for a long time, especially during the summer months. The most obvious reason for this preference being that it is cooler. Also, there is much less boat traffic and commotion caused by swimmers. Hopefully, the tips listed above will help get your crappie night fishing off on the right foot.