Tip of the Month: Where to Fish for Nighttime Crappie

By John Phillips


During the summer months, crappie are looking for cool, highly oxygenated water near structure. When the water temperature heats up, the fish often will be found on the edges of a river channel or a deep creek channel. Often the very best place to locate crappie schooled-up during the summer months is on the point formed where a creek channel runs into a river channel. If this spot also has stumps and logs on it, then you’ll often find a summertime, nighttime, crappie hotspot.

Crappie may travel these river and creek channels much like motorists travel interstate highways. These areas are where the most baitfish will be found, and the crappie will follow the bait. When you concentrate the baitfish with a light, crappie traveling along these channels will come in to feed when they see the light and the large numbers of baitfish.

If you don’t have a depth sounder or a lake map that shows underwater river and creek channels, you still can find the creek and river channel drop-offs and ledges where crappie concentrate during the summer months. Bridges and railroad trestles which cross structures like creeks, rivers and lakes usually effectively concentrate nighttime crappie. The pilings that stand along the edges or in the middles of underwater creek or river channels offer structure for the crappie to hold on as well as provide a place for baitfish to hold.

Also generally some current is present around pilings. The crappie can hold on the down-current side of the pilings in the slack water and then move out into the current to feed.  Too, the pilings offer vertical structure, which allows the crappie to position themselves close to cover in the segment of water with the most comfortable temperature as well as the most dissolved oxygen. On many lakes throughout the nation, the area under bridges may resemble a small village at night and on weekends where from 10 to 100 boats may be lined up under the bridges with all the fishermen angling for slabs.

One of the advantages associated with night fishing in many lakes is your inability to communicate to the fish that crappie is the only species you’re attempting to catch. Often at night, you will take largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, hybrid striped bass, white bass and an occasional bluegill and catfish while crappie fishing.  Many species of fish travel these river ledges and drop-offs. When you concentrate the baitfish with a light, generally you also will draw in other species of fish besides crappie to that light.

Another advantage of night fishing for crappie is the fact that many states permit a two-day limit for anglers who fish all night. Conceivably you can catch one limit of crappie before 12:00 midnight as well as another limit of crappie before daylight the next morning.  However, this type of regulation is a state-by-state call.  Check with the conservation officer in your state to learn what the regulations are for night fishing on the lakes you plan to angle.

To learn more about how to catch crappie during the hot summer months check out  “Crappie: How to Catch Them Spring and Summer”, available in both eBook, print and audible formats http://amzn.to/WGaJLT