Tips for slabs after dark

Crappie will bite at night, especially if you follow a few guidelines.
Crappie will bite at night, especially if you follow a few guidelines. (Photo by Phillip Gentry)

Like any type of modern fishing, the details of your setup and presentation can often spell the difference between a so-so night and a great night on the water. Follow these tips to help you make the best of your night-fishing trips for crappie.

Check your depth

During the summer, a maximum water depth may not apply, but for night-fishing during the summer, a minimum of 10 to 12 feet of water is recommended. The best areas will be adjacent to a creek or river channel that has fish holding around nearby structure.

See the light

Two light systems will assist in attracting and catching crappie. An ambient light system will help with seeing rods, baiting hooks and unhooking fish. Use as little light as possible to avoid attracting insects. A submersible lighting system is used to attract baitfish. Green is a popular color, and some models can even be submerged.

The right rod

Rod lengths from 6 to 9 feet work best, especially under bridges where overhead clearance might be a problem. Use rods long enough to reach outside the light to catch fish in the shadows. Painted or glow tips will assist in seeing bites.

Live-bait time

Though jigs will also work, live bait typically gets the nod for stationary, vertical fishing. If using store-bought minnows, try to match your baits with the size of the natural bait. Where legal, consider cast-netting bait from the lake to use for night fishing.

Thermocline tricks

Though crappie may hold below a thermocline, most active feeding will take place in current areas where there is no thermocline, or just above the thermocline. You can determine the depth of the thermocline by increasing the sensitivity on your sonar and looking for a thin horizontal line.

Phillip Gentry
About Phillip Gentry 353 Articles
Phillip Gentry is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer who says that if it swims, walks, hops, flies or crawls he’s usually not too far behind.