It may surprise you but under the right conditions, the nighttime crappie bite can be just as good as the daytime bite. In this article, we will cover some of the basics of crappie fishing at night and some tips and tricks for you to put more fish in the boat.
Night Fishing for Crappie
When targeting crappie at night be sure to do some research prior to planning your trip. Some of the best nighttime crappie fishing is done in the summer months, in places with clear water, and when there is natural moonlight provided. A general rule of thumb for the summer months is that the bite tends to be best early morning and late evening. Nighttime anglers can take advantage of this by fishing those windows, especially the late evening bite, and on into the darker hours of the evening with much success. Use the lunar (moon) phases to plan your trip and shoot for something close to a full moon.
Lures and Colors
Before jumping into artificial lure selections, it goes without saying that nothing imitates a baitfish better than baitfish themselves. So, if able to do so, start your night with live bait – preferably minnows.
Tip: Minnows typically provide the most action when hooked through the mouth.
For artificial lures, shoot for lures that closely imitate the baitfish of your fishery and keep your colors natural. For most fisheries, a marabou jig or soft plastic minnows will do the trick.
Marabou jigs do a great job of not only imitating baitfish but also insects. Since night fishing is typically done utilizing some form of light (moonlight, flashlights, etc.) insects are naturally drawn to the area you’re fishing making marabou jigs a versatile and great choice among anglers.
Soft plastic minnows should closely imitate that of a baitfish, both in size and shape. Consider a Berkley Gulp Alive! Minnow for your next night fishing trip. These lures have great action, especially when rigged on light tackle.
Another powerful tactic for targeting crappie at night is the use of scented baits. It is worth mentioning that crappie tend to suffer from poor night vision which makes them reliant on their other senses. One of those being their sense of smell. If jigs or minnow imitations are not getting the job done, try switching to something like Berkley Powerbait Crappie Nibbles. These baits put off a powerful scent that ultimately will attract more fish.
Where to Find Crappie at Night
Crappie tend to hang out in areas of water that provide bait, good oxygen levels, and good cover. In warmer summer months this tends to be in 5-15 feet of water for most lakes and rivers. Look for places on the body of water you are fishing that have these features. Good places to start looking is around known fishing ledges that allow crappie to freely move between deeper and shallower waters. Other areas of interest to consider are flooded timber areas and boat docks.
This is where a fishing light can be of great service to you as well. A good night fishing light naturally attracts plankton, a baitfish’s primary food source – and where the baitfish are is where the crappie will be!
So once you’ve found a good piece of structure or cover that you know holds fish consider the use of a light to aid in bringing the fish to the boat. This can be accomplished using boat lights mounted directly onto your vessel, floating lights, or submersible lights.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is crappie fishing good at night?
Under the right conditions, crappie fishing is very good at night. Though it doesn’t quite stand up to fishing during the early morning and late evening hours, nighttime crappie fishing has its place. As stated above, consider fishing on a full moon summer night on a body of water that offers both clear water and holding points for fish (structure, cover, etc.). Aside from being a great time to set the hook on some fish, you can also expect less boat traffic, less fishing pressure, and calmer waters.
It’s worth mentioning that nighttime crappie fishing doesn’t have to be performed on a boat. If you’re fishing from shore target areas where you’ve identified cover or find a place with good overhead light. As stated above, boat docks offer great nighttime crappie fishing. If you’re able to gain access to the boat dock you intend to fish, try vertical jigging. This keeps your bait in the strike zone, increasing your chances for a hookup.
Are crappie active at night?
Crappie are most definitely active at night. Though small, crappie are still considered predatory fish. They are constantly ambushing prey as a means of feeding. Because baitfish activity tends to rise when there are good lighting conditions at night the same can be said for crappie. Locate the bait and you will locate the crappie. Don’t forget to take a light with you to increase your odds.
What time of night is best for crappie fishing?
Shoot for late evening and early twilight hours for best results. As the night progresses remember to utilize light sources whether that be natural moonlight or the three listed above (boat lights, floating lights, submersible lights) to aid in keeping fishing within casting range.