Avoiding Night Fishing Oversights To Boat Summertime Crappie
Story and photos by Josh Boyd, Edmonson Voice Contributor:
As June transitions to July, intense heat and debilitating humidity typically become a mainstay among the south central Kentucky weather forecast. Thoughts of a weekend fishing trip to the lake are often burdened by the anticipation of the dreadful summer swelter that lingers in the air. Many crafty fishermen bypass this dilemma in it's entirety by opting to venture out only after the sun has fallen below the horizon.
A time honored classic among anglers during the summer months is night time crappie fishing. Many young fisherman can easily reflect back upon memories of fishing from a favored location with their father or grandfather under the light of a lantern, in pursuit of eagerly biting summertime crappie. Like any form of fishing, crappie fishing under the cover of darkness is a game of strategy. The avoidance of common mistakes often is the common denominator between staring at an idle bobber or filling a stringer with fish.
One commonly overlooked aspect of night time crappie fishing is the pre-determination of the location of which you will be focusing your efforts. As crappie leave the shallows as spring time spawning concludes, they scatter from their shallow water beds into transition zones along drop offs and onto flats containing structure. Failure to locate areas holding noteworthy numbers of crappie, prior to your outing, can lead to unknowingly fishing areas of low fish density and less than desirable results.
At times, prior knowledge of favorable crappie fishing locations from past years under similar conditions can be of value. However, variables such as fluctuating water depths, differing weather conditions, and changes in water condition and clarity can all vary year to year. Because of these variables, it is often best to scout and predetermine fishing locations by use of a fish finder to study structure and lake contours, as well as signatures of schooling crappie, to determine where best to focus your efforts.
Another mistake that crappie anglers commonly make when fishing at night is the lack of proper utilization of lighting for attracting crappie. When a light is deployed for evening crappie fishing, minnows and other baitfish are attracted to the light source to feed upon insects that swarm the illumination. In turn, crappie are attracted to the schools of bait fish that they favor as a food source.
Many anglers in the past would suspend a lantern over the water to facilitate this level of attraction. This method is still effective today, however the use of green LED and fluorescent submersible lights have proven to provide increased water penetration depth and saturation. This in turn, has the potential to increase attraction and overall effectiveness. In the majority of situations, the use of submersible LED and fluorescent lights in conjunction with lantern style lighting, can make for a deadly combination for putting crappie in the boat.
Perhaps the most commonly made mistake by after hours crappie anglers is the apprehension to experiment with rigging at various depths. Crappie are inherently depth oriented and even a variation of a foot too deep or too shallow can produce less than stellar results. Because of this, an angler who only fishes at a singular depth is very limited in their ability to discern where in the water table crappie are holding. By fishing multiple poles at staggered depths, a fisherman can quickly key in on where crappie are suspending at and adjust their other poles accordingly.
Crappie fishing at night not only allows an angler a reprieve from summers tumultuous heat, but also provides hours of endless fun and if successful, excellent table fare as well. This summer, as the sun sets low on the horizon, arrive at your favored lake prepared with a sound strategy at hand to avoid night time crappie fishing's most common oversights. As you boat your final fish of the evening to fill out your limit, you will be delighted that you did.