I've heard many people talk about ice fishing for crappie at night. Before a few years ago, I hadn't tried it myself, but I've seen pictures of others who had done it. The first time I did it, I was surprised at how much fun it was, and I have been hooked on ice fishing for crappie at night ever since.
In the winter, crappies are one of the most active fish. Insects and other small aquatic life will be their primary diets, and they will be very responsive to live bait. You can find crappie in various water types, but they are especially attracted to structures like brush piles, stumps, sunken logs, and even man-made lures like crappie jigs and minnows.
Crappie anglers fish at night because it is when they are most active. It is an opportunistic species that feeds wherever and whenever it can. They will also school up at night. As crappies feed, they often hit anything moving.
Catching crappie is fun, and they're also good to eat. This post aims to showcase the best ice fishing techniques for catching crappie at night.
Ice fishing for crappie at Night
Zooplankton is what crappies eat and swim around. Small to medium-sized, highly visible lures are recommended. Glowing Jigs will be helpful.
You can attract crappies by using green lights. This light can attract planktons and small fish that crappies typically eat in shallow waters. Occasionally, anglers prefer putting bait into a sandbox or using a tassel with an open end. These can be combined with artificial lures for better visibility.
Best Months to Ice Fish at Night
January through February is the best time to ice fish for crappie. Ensure the ice is thick enough before going out on the lake.
You must know how to identify fish and what they eat if you intend to catch any during winter. Many fish species rely on crappie as a primary food source. Crappie typically reside 15-45 feet below the ice. Therefore, the depth at which you should fish depends on the lake's size.
How to Find Crappie while Ice Fishing at Night
During the winter, crappie don't move around much, making following their movements more challenging than catching them. Using a flashier lure and being mobile will help you achieve this.
Between 5 and 15 feet of water, ice crappie are attracted to weed lines and thick weed beds.
Crappie migrate to the deeper waters near the lake's bottom, where oxygen concentrations are higher. Then, to feed on the surface activity, they'll wait for the oxygen level to rise again.
Ice fishing on a lake is most prevalent when the fish are deep in the shallows, and the vegetation is protected during the winter. You'll need to use your flasher during this time to fish for ice crappie in deeper fishing holes.
Ice Fishing Crappie With Lights
Many things may surprise you about night ice fishing for crappies. Green light, for example, attracts crappies better than any other color. Others work, but they don't penetrate as deep or attract fish as good as green.
Green light does not have as much glare as other colors. Whether green or clear, the light also attracts shrimp and insects, which end up attracting crappie. A specific type of plankton gathers in the water around the light. Furthermore, this will also attract crappies to your fishing area and give you the best chance of catching one.
Baits for Ice Fishing At Night
It will take much more than just live minnows to ice fish for crappie at night. Various jigs, including vertical, horizontal, and 45-degree angle models, will also be required. Additionally, you'll need glow-painted or natural bait to catch crappie.
Crappie are very selective about the foods they eat and do not eat. Therefore, they are difficult to catch if you don't know what they like.
Jigging for Crappie Ice Fishing at night
Crappie feed primarily on zooplankton while it is cold outside. When it is cold, crappie form school groups of up to ten fish.
Keep crappies active by mimicking plankton with tungsten jigs and soft plastic.
Fishing for crappie on ice is most effective when jigging. As you drop your bait at the bottom, reel it up a few feet, then pulse and pause it in different sections of the water column for a few seconds.
When your bait moves up and down, you will most likely get a night bite. So when catching crappie, move from hole to hole and search for a biting fish.
Take a Variety of Lures
Ice fishing at night is quite tricky, and a good opportunity for the sport requires the change of lures. Everyone needs to pick the best one to use. If the crappie are not interested in your bait, switch the lure and try again.
Add small pieces of fresh bait, such as a crappie minnow or worm, to the hook. Natural bait will give it an irresistible smell along with an attractive lure.
Places to Crappie Ice Fish at night
You can find many excellent ice fishing spots in the United States and Canada. Listed below are just a few of them:
Safely Ice Fishing at Night for Crappie
It's vital to be safe when you're on the ice.
Ice fishing is dangerous! Check ice thickness and take plenty of food and drink.
Never forget to tell your family or friends that you are going on your trip. Only ever travel alone if you have to. Always try to take someone with you for safety reasons.
Observe weather forecasts before your trip and plan accordingly. Change your fishing date if you see bad weather coming. You can never be too safe, and preparing will help you stay safe.
Stay Comfortable and Dress Appropriate
Fishing can only be successful if we are aware of our surroundings and must focus on alertness. Often after midnight, most people get tired and are slow.
Bring coffee and energy drinks. Take a comfortable bed to rest on.
Dress well and stay warm. Here are some of the clothes I wear when night ice fishing for crappie:
- Well insulated boots to keep your feet warm.
- Thermal socks to keep your feet warm.
- Thermal gloves to keep your hands warm.
- Hot hand warmers to heat your hands and other body parts up fast.
Keeping yourself warm will make your trip much more enjoyable. It will also keep you safe from the elements and prevent you from getting hypothermia.
Use Your Sonar while Ice Fishing
At night, use a good ice fishing sonar to locate large weed flats 6-10 feet deep. During the day, you may need to go out and mark the spots to find them at night. Crappie prefer shallower breaks, and they like the deeper water near the ice.
Some anglers say the moon plays a role in catching crappie. Some ice fishermen say there are nights you don't catch crappie at all when you are fishing just before or right after a full moon. They prefer to fish during the new moon phase.
Other anglers believe that close to the new moon and the full moon phases seem to be most active. While ice fishing crappie at night, some anglers believe that you can catch bigger crappie if you reach your spot within two hours of a cold front moving through.
To catch the most crappie, you must first know the crappie fishing areas of the lake. It's not enough to know they are there. You've got to know where they will be sitting before the ice hits so you can set up shop. So before you go fishing, do your homework, and you will then be able to catch the biggest and best fish in the lake.
Popular Questions People Ask About Crappie Night Winter Fishing
Here is a list of questions that many people ask about ice fishing for crappie at night.
How do you ice fish for crappie at night?
Crappie feed at peak times during the night. Taking advantage of these hours is essential in getting a great deal of activity. Jigging bright plastics with contrasting tin heads in orange or green works particularly nicely in dark crappie situations.
Is crappie ice fishing at night any good?
Less fishing pressure. Most anglers have busy days, so fishing at night means fewer anglers lingering on the hot brush and creek channels. The reduced number of fishermen dragging on the ice will also not hurt.
Do crappie bite at night in winter?
How can you capture more winter crappie fishing at dawn? Changes in lighting conditions can trigger food action. If you're fishing for winter crappies at night on the ice, you must apply safety precautions and bring a friend on your journey.
Is night fishing good for crappie?
Night fishing is a great way to catch crappie, especially when you're targeting them on the edge of a lake or stream where they tend to feed at night. In fact, the best time to fish for crappie is from dusk to dawn.
Catch More Crappie This Winter
Ice fishing for crappie at night is a great way to catch fish during the winter. But, even though you can catch them during the day, ice fishing at night is an experience all its own.
It is also an excellent way to catch more crappie this winter. It would be best if you fished before or after a cold front. Taking advantage of these hours is vital in getting a great deal of activity. Jigging bright plastics with contrasting tin heads in orange or green works particularly nicely in dark crappie situations.
There will be fewer fishermen around you, so that you will have less fishing pressure. In addition, this means fewer anglers are lingering around at night.
Wishing you the best of luck on your upcoming trip to fish for crappie at night during the winter.