11 Quick Night Crappie Fishing Tips & Tricks

night crappie fishing

Night Crappie Fishing

When the sun goes down, the action often heats up for Crappie.  Sometimes it is difficult to fish a body of water during the day due to the heat and the constant stream of boats churning up the water.  If you have experienced these frustrations, then try your hand at night Crappie fishing.

The following tips should help catch your limit of Crappie and help keep you safe on the water.

  • Be sure you know where you are going to fish.  If the body of water that you are going to fish at night is somewhat unfamiliar to you, it may be wise to explore the area before dark.  This will not only help you find good spots, it will also help avoid safety hazards such as underwater stumps.  Be sure to bring a spotlight along to aid in navigation.
  • The darker the moon the better.  When the moon is full, the light from your lantern is not nearly as effective as it is during the new moon.  By hanging your lantern or light over the boat, it will attract bugs.  These bugs will attract small bait-fish which will in turn attract the larger Crappie that you seek.
  • Look for structure to fish on.  That structure could be something obvious like a tree stump, or something less obvious like an underwater drop off.  All fish hold to structure, and Crappie are no different.
  • Fish in shallower water in the Spring during the pre and post spawn, and deeper water in the Summer months.  If you are really a glutton for punishment and wish to fish at night in the winter, then go to very deep water.
  • Use light tackle.  Crappie are finicky biters at times.  You will be able to feel the bite of a Crappie much better if you are using light tackle.  I prefer to use a 4-8lb test line.  Use a light action rod as well.  I prefer to use a rod with a bright or fluorescent tip for visibility.  A good combination for Crappie that seems to hold up well is something like a Zebco 404.  If you use heavier line weights and rods, you will miss some fish because you will miss the bite.
  • Use smaller hooks.  I prefer to use the 2.0 wire hooks.   These hooks are very inexpensive and most times are easy to get out of the fish.  Don’t use really small hooks like sun perch hooks.
  • Use medium size live minnows or shad for best results.  Very large minnows or shad will also work, but I seem to have better luck on minnows that are big but not too big.  If you buy bags of minnows, be sure to let the bag of minnows sit in the water you are going to dump them into for a few minutes before opening the bag.  Minnows can be very delicate, and if you dump a bag of minnows into a bucket of water without letting them acclimate, you will often kill a good majority of them.  Dead minnows rarely are an effective bait for Crappie.
  • Try this method of rigging your line.  There are many different ways to rig your line, but I prefer to fish a tight line with a small weight at the bottom.  The smaller the better.  If the water is choppy, you may have to use a bit heavier weight.  Above that about 1 foot, I will tie a hook with a looped knot with about 4 inches of loop, so that the bait can have the freedom to swim around.  Hook the minnow just under the dorsal fin, or through the lips.
  • Crappie don’t always just pull on your line.  When fishing for Crappie, most times you will get a bump followed by one of the 2 following scenarios.  If you notice a bunch of slack all of a sudden, raise your rod and reel fast to set the hook.  Another thing Crappie will do is to just start pushing the bait with their nose.  It the line gets out at a 45 degree angle or more, raise up on the pole and reel  fast.
  • Make sure that you have your fishing license and life jackets with you.  Since you are one of the only boats on the water, if the game warden is out, you are likely to get checked.
  • Don’t stay out too late.  Don’t forget that unless you are camping by the lake that night, you still have to load up the boat and drive home.  Factor this in while you are fishing so you will not ruin a good fishing experience with a tragic event on the way home.

Keep these tips in mind for a successful night Crappie fishing trip.  Always remember to just keep what you are going to eat, and not waste resources.  Good luck and good fishing.