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View Full Version : Night Fishing Do's and Don'ts



chadchester1
07-13-2013, 10:22 PM
OK, I started this Thread to hear everyone's opinions on Night Fishing for Crappie in the Summer time.
I'd like to know about, fishing dock lights, and all types of Boat lights. I've had some success fishing at night and really just want to see how the rest of you do it!!

NIMROD
07-14-2013, 03:09 AM
I'd like to hear about this as I've never done the night shift Crappie fishing.:fish

Meyer
07-14-2013, 06:05 AM
Never done it...looking forward to trying. Any advice is much appreciated. Are there better baits/colors to use with the lights...or at night in general?

ripnlips
07-14-2013, 08:54 AM
If you have not read them yet on this site is a reel-lites ad and when you pull it up there is a night fishing 101 page lots of info there.

chadchester1
07-14-2013, 09:52 AM
I did read his Thread and really like what he has done with his lights, but REEL-LITE wants you to buy his lights and is using the form for free advertising , I'd like to hear from the ol timers and young guns who have there own way, and he mainly talks about anchoring over structure putting out the lights and fishing. There is nothing about dock lights or anything else for that matter. I'm not saying anything negative about REEL-LITE, Heck I have a green drop light and fish the same way he suggest on the form. We do real well at night fishing this way. I'm just trying to learn a new way or learn something new all together.

efdavis
07-14-2013, 02:35 PM
I have night fished for crappie for years and have bought many different lights . I now use two lights from Walmart and have just as much luck as the expensive green light. They are less than ten dollars each (110 volt clip lights) get a 50 watt 12 bulb and alligator clips to extend wires as needed to reach battery .I bought 2( 1/2") rod holder bases then had some 1/4x2x3 flat bar welded on short 1/2" bolts. Just screw the bolts in the bases on side of boat clip lights on and you set .Works real well.

BoarBuster
07-14-2013, 05:37 PM
I have night fished for crappie for years and have bought many different lights . I now use two lights from Walmart and have just as much luck as the expensive green light. They are less than ten dollars each (110 volt clip lights) get a 50 watt 12 bulb and alligator clips to extend wires as needed to reach battery .I bought 2( 1/2") rod holder bases then had some 1/4x2x3 flat bar welded on short 1/2" bolts. Just screw the bolts in the bases on side of boat clip lights on and you set .Works real well.

I would like to see a pic of your setup if you have one.

Ryan_M
07-14-2013, 05:42 PM
Affordable and Indestructable LED lights (http://fishinglightsetc.com/superbritepics.html)

efdavis
07-15-2013, 07:48 AM
Don't even have a camera.

chadchester1
07-15-2013, 09:24 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=qhebIk1RVGI

This is my rig working, but as you can see i also use a Coleman lantern so i have light in the boat and can see my rod tips. we are fishing in about 30 FOW right off the main river channel over some standing timber. Me and my son caught about 100 but only kept 40 that were anywhere from 10"-14", the night we fished was about a week after the full moon and we fished from about 7pm-3am.

chadchester1
07-24-2013, 08:09 PM
Ok guy!! I know that there has got to be more than just three of who night stalk out there? Please point us in the right direction!, I'd really just like to know how the rest on the Crappie Nation night fishes!! Please summit your thoughts and tips.

CrappiePappy
07-24-2013, 11:21 PM
I would, but I haven't night fished for Crappie in a long time.

Most of my night Crappie fishing was done under the light of a two burner Coleman lantern. Other than that, I have used "black lights" & fluorescent line, and I've fished under lights mounted on docks (just above the water's surface) ... from a boat. In most all cases, fish were caught at the outer edges of the light ... or slightly below the (probable) depth of the light's penetration.

Mostly I've used minnows, when stationary (tied to something) ... and jigs/Roadrunners when casting the shadows &/or the outer fringes of the light.

Best tips I can give ... have minimal clutter in the boat - have your PFD on - have quick & easy access to a light (flashlight/headlamp/etc) - be "scent free" (as in don't wear aftershave/perfume, or use scented soap prior to night fishing) - have a First Aid Kit in the boat. It goes without saying that you should follow all applicable laws & safety procedures.

... cp :kewl

chadchester1
07-25-2013, 07:43 AM
Thanks pappy, that's all great advice. But can I ask you why you are "sent free" is that do to the bugs??
I'd really like to know about location and set up if you don't mind. I've read that crappie stage up in deep water during the hottest part of the day and move in to the shallows to feed at night and morning. So what would be the best location to set up at night to catch the fish in this transition??

CrappiePappy
07-25-2013, 09:48 AM
Thanks pappy, that's all great advice. But can I ask you why you are "sent free" is that do to the bugs??
I'd really like to know about location and set up if you don't mind. I've read that crappie stage up in deep water during the hottest part of the day and move in to the shallows to feed at night and morning. So what would be the best location to set up at night to catch the fish in this transition??

Yes .... being "scent free" is to help not attract "bugs", specifically mosquitoes. You really can't stop all bugs from buzzing around you, or landing on you, but most are not the "biting kind".

Crappie are going to follow their foodsource .... using shade or depth or cover to stay "hidden" as much as possible. They're not slash & dash feeders, they're stealth feeders. I believe your "transition" theory is mostly correct, but not all "move IN TO the shallows" ... many will just "move shallow", or more precisely they will move "shallower" (up in the water column), staying in deep water and not actually move towards the shallow water around the shoreline.

The best location to set up ... can change with changing conditions, and baitfish movement. One has to take into account the thermocline, if it exists in the waters you're fishing. If it's there, that's the maximum depth you'd want to fish. You'd also like to have some type of cover that rises up through the thermocline, or extends down towards it. Standing trees on deep creek mouth points, humps with stumps, dead fall trees that extend out from the bank into deep water, docks on poles, docks with large lights hanging off the sides, and logjams in a deep water pocket ... have all been places where I've caught Crappie at night.

From what I've read, along with what I've experienced, Crappie don't "move" for the heck of it. They generally have a reason, and that reason is their foodsource. Shad, being the most prevalent food, generally move to the shallows (where cover is present) or into the creeks at night .... then back out to the main channel during the day. They can be distracted or diverted by a light source, knowing that "their" foodsource will be attracted to the light. That's why your lights, and dock lights, attract the "chain" reaction of phytoplankton/zooplankton being fed upon by Shad, which are being fed upon by Crappie & other predatory fish.

... cp :kewl

bdunn3
07-25-2013, 12:13 PM
I would like to see a pic of your setup if you have one.

Me too!

Edit: just saw the no cameracomment. Crap!

chadchester1
07-25-2013, 12:16 PM
Thanks Again CP
See, I knew that there was a crappie master out there who actually knew what they were talking about. Thank you for the information and I truly appreciate
your input and time. I have found that coves with old creek beds or river channels in them work best for me. I like to find structure right off the main channels either in a bend or hole and put out the lights and see what happens. however I will not sit to long in one spot if i'm not seeing any bait fish.
Do you mind if i ask you one more question. I've also read that different year class "size" fish group up this time of year and would like to know your thoughts on this. And where you'd try to find the bigger fish in a large reservoir .
Thanks
Chad

M Pain
07-25-2013, 12:40 PM
If the noise you here you think it's a black kitty cat just - RUN! :yikes

Dave and Lynn
07-25-2013, 01:19 PM
Went the last couple of weekends at night and have caught all my fish in less then 15 ft of water fishing 8 ft down. Some fish caught on a point close to deep water. We were at least 50 yards off shore 13 ft deep around brush. Others were caught 15 ft of water 30 yards off shore around brush. Used slip bobbers and minnows. Finding brush away from shore will minimize the bug issue. I use the old floating lights that look like old car head light bulbs. If you don't get a lot of bait around your lights move somewhere else. That can take up to an hour. Tried the glow stick kind of lights that you attach to the bobber and was pleased at how they worked although they are a little pricey. We did anchor out. One other thing is to be as quite in the boat as possible as the fish will spook easy. Also don't anchor over the brush stay off of it 20 ft or so.
Good fishing to you.

CrappiePappy
07-25-2013, 02:29 PM
Do you mind if i ask you one more question. I've also read that different year class "size" fish group up this time of year and would like to know your thoughts on this. And where you'd try to find the bigger fish in a large reservoir .
Thanks
Chad

I've heard that Crappie school by year class / size ... but, haven't always experienced it that way. There have been many instances where fish of varying sizes have been caught from around a single cover object/area. Now, that's not to say that they were schooling together, as they could have "picked out" this particular cover/area at the same time ... and likely for the same reason.

As I understand it, the bigger Crappie do tend to stay deeper, more often. They're also notorious for holding on "isolated" cover ... like that one brushpile that's all alone, with no other cover features close by ... or that one tree that's off a little distance from a group of trees. The idea, in the past, was to find cover that wasn't known or heavily fished. But, with the electronics of today, that's a fading factor.

Where the bigger fish are, in any given body of water, depends on a lot of factors. As I haven't been night fishing during the Summer months, I'd be about as lost as anyone, as to where those fish would be. I would probably just try those same areas that I mentioned before, and move from spot to spot until I came in contact with fish of a quality size.

... cp :kewl

chadchester1
07-25-2013, 10:21 PM
Thanks CP,
All good information , Thanks for sharing ,

Mintaka
07-25-2013, 10:53 PM
I have only been on two crappie trips at night , so I'm not very seasoned. The first trip , was spur of the moment , and resulted in 6 crappies from shore , in 5' of water. I used spotlights from Walmart , shining both on the same spot. The small minnows showed up within 10 minutes , the first crappie within 30. Only 2 were keepers , but I'm excited about the upcoming possibilities. Also , the area I was fishing was suburban , but the street lights had no effect. I will try again this weekend , possibly under a bridge near deeper water. I used minnows about 4.5' beneath a bobber.

Hanr3
07-25-2013, 11:42 PM
I went out night fishing last weekend, Crappie tournament no less.

I decided while leaving the dock to try something new, and find new spots. Let me back up some. I have a 12" fluorescent green light I hang over the side, and a Coleman gas lantern I hang over the water, about 3' off the water and 3' from the boat. I position the light away from the boat because it draws all the bugs to it. The bugs mess with the light and not me. Plus the dumb ones die and drop into the lake, fish food. So this time out I left the Coleman in the truck.

So as I'm leaving the dock my main motor won't start, so its trolling motor only. That means running 15 minutes to my usual places is not happening tonight. My backup spots near the ramp have boats on them. So it was time to find a new spot. Not what you want to do during a tournament. Making the best of it, I put on my thinking cap and decided to head for deep water near shore and look for laydowns. Pulled out my binoculars and spotted some laydowns near deep water on the map. Marked some fish on the leading edge of the drop at the point. Good sign. Trolled on down the shore towards the laydowns and out of the setting sun. Fished the first laydown, nothing. Moved up to the next one, fish on, then another (Big Fish of the tournament), headed up to the next laydown, nothing, trolled around a little more as the sun set. Dark, decided to head back to where we caught fish, dropped the green light overboard and it instantly had fry swimming around it. Just a matter of time as we pulled fish in until quitting time.

At some point the mist started rolling off the lake, water temp warmer than air temp. The full moon lite the whole thing up and you could see the bugs dancing on and over the water in the mist. The lake was as smooth as glass. You knew when a crappie was about to bite. The minnow would start to swim away, pulling the bobber with it, then the bobber disappeared, set the hook and put another Crappie in the boat. It was almost surreal.

Crappie are predators, they feed heavily at dusk and dawn, low light conditions. In the summer, its too dang hot to sit in an aluminum heat sink to fish. Night fishing or early morning fishing is the best option. Methods, employ the same techniques at night you use during the day. Lights, no lights, doesn't matter if there are no fish below you. First things first, find the fish, then figure out what they want to eat.

quickant
07-26-2013, 12:51 AM
True saying

skiptomylu
07-26-2013, 07:49 AM
Never leave without the ThermaCell for bugs if needed. Have some kind of head light for changing things like re-tying, pick a spot where you out in some brush and make it on the edge of a creek and especially in a bend. We keep a small tote full of night fishing gear so we don't forget something we need. Know how your going to rig up and have that done before going out there. Everyone says fish the edge of the light, but I say fish it all and find the depth they are biting and keep at it. Also have a spot light for running back to the dock when done. Also know it may be that you will have to wait for a good while for them to bite so have patience.

chadchester1
07-26-2013, 08:05 AM
Thanks Hanr3,
How deep was the water you were fishing and why do you think that the second blow down was holding fish and not the first? I know there is no real explanation some times for fish to do what they do. So your opinion and observation will do.
I live in GA , so it's just about impossible to fish down here during the day because of the heat, pleasure boaters and water lice. Night fishing or early mornings during the week are just about our only option. Congrats on the win (big fish of the tournament) and thank you for your time and opinions, I've found over the years that the more you know about something the more you learn that you really don't know as much as you thought you knew. That's why I like to ask questions and see how the rest of the Crappie nation dose things.
Thanks
Chad

chadchester1
07-26-2013, 08:33 AM
Never leave without the ThermaCell ,head light . We keep a small tote full of night fishing gear so we don't forget something we need. Know how your going to rig up and have that done before going out there. Everyone says fish the edge of the light, but I say fish it all and find the depth they are biting and keep at it. Also have a spot light .

Thanks Skip,
The ThermaCell is one of those Must haves , I really like the idea of keeping everything you need in a tote bag so you don't forget everything too. What's funny is my son likes to fish one rod out the back of the boat opposite side of the light that has a big minnow or a small shad or other type of fish, he calls that his big fish rig. The first time he did this we were in the middle of a Crappie feeding frenzy and all the sudden we hear something beating the side of the boat. It was the rod making its way in to the water. I keep a weighted treble hook with about 100' of rope for that reason. So he jumps up and grabs the weighted hook and tosses if towards the direction the rod went in to the water. Lucky kid hooked it and caught about a 12 pound striper. He is a firm believer that you fish as close to the lights as possible to. He has a 4' ultralight just for night fishing. Thanks again for the info, all good ideas and thanks for sharing. I want to try some of your glow in the dark jigs next time out, I'll be calling you today to place an order. They have got to work real good for night fishing.
Thanks
Chad

Lowellhturner
07-26-2013, 03:47 PM
Isolated cover in 15- 20 fow on large mudflats seems to work very well for a couple or at most 3 nice specimens at night, after that the "biguns" and barn doors flee, The trick is to GPS that "isolated cover" as you are "splashing" it prior...

Hanr3
07-27-2013, 07:39 PM
Thanks Hanr3,
How deep was the water you were fishing and why do you think that the second blow down was holding fish and not the first? I know there is no real explanation some times for fish to do what they do. So your opinion and observation will do.
Thanks
Chad

I believe they were holding on the second tree because of the depth. The crown of the tree was in deeper water than the first. Not much of a difference but apparently enough to make a difference to the Crappie. First tree was in 8fow, second was in 12fow.

Some great tips about being rigged before it gets dark, and a spot light for traveling at night.

CrappiePappy
07-27-2013, 07:49 PM
I believe they were holding on the second tree because of the depth. The crown of the tree was in deeper water than the first. Not much of a difference but apparently enough to make a difference to the Crappie. First tree was in 8fow, second was in 12fow.

Some great tips about being rigged before it gets dark, and a spot light for traveling at night.

That is what I've experienced, too. A couple of feet of depth can make a big difference in similar cover situations.

You'll also want to learn & follow your state's rules about lights at night ... specifically, running lights & spot lights. Here in KY, you must have transom & bow lights on when running the lake between dusk & dawn ... but, you must also have your transom light ON when fishing (& it must be visible 360deg). You also cannot run around on the lakes with your spotlight "continuously" ON. While I don't particularly agree with those laws, on some lakes or under certain conditions ... I follow them.

... cp :kewl

chadchester1
07-30-2013, 09:31 AM
Thanks CP,
we have the same laws here in GA. Some lakes it's just about impossible to navigate in the timber with out a spot light on continually. I'm really not sure who thought about that law before they wrote it.. Have you guys had any luck with jigs at night ?. If so what type and or colors would you recommend. We normally just use minnows at night but I'd like to try some jigs while we are there anyway.

CrappiePappy
07-30-2013, 12:51 PM
Thanks CP,
we have the same laws here in GA. Some lakes it's just about impossible to navigate in the timber with out a spot light on continually. I'm really not sure who thought about that law before they wrote it.. Have you guys had any luck with jigs at night ?. If so what type and or colors would you recommend. We normally just use minnows at night but I'd like to try some jigs while we are there anyway.

Mostly I've used solid chartreuse marabou Roadrunners, casting to the dark areas of the docks and along the outer edges of the light from the big lights hanging off them. When jigs were used, they were the same colors I would have been using during the day ... contrasting color combos like green/char, blue/char, etc.
In most all of my night time Crappie fishing, I've tightlined minnows straight down over the sides of the boat. My use of jigs/RR's, for night Crappie fishing, was normally done when minnows were not being used (or when multi-species fishing).

As for the spotlight law ... the general idea is to not blind an oncoming boat operator, and to allow boat bow lights to be visible so that direction can be determined.
I also have my "suspicions" ... that spotlighting anglers engaged in fishing was a secondary factor, whether to see where they were fishing or disrupt their fishing (by interfering with their night vision or "lighting up" the area to spook their fish). But, that may just be my past Bass tournament fishing prejudice coming out :Rofl

... cp :kewl

chadchester1
07-30-2013, 08:49 PM
Thanks CP,
and trust me, I totally understand the Bass fishing reference. Most of those guys I run in to on the lake have their noise stuck up as they speed by me like I'm not there. Running in to the cove I'm fishing at 65mph and stoping right in front of where I'm fishing. But to each their own I guess. But if you are ever in GA look me up and we'll go .

HOOSIER GRIZZ
11-26-2013, 05:37 PM
It's all smoke and mirrors guys. You can't catch crappie at night. Don't even waste your time trying! ;)

I've only done it anchored with a drop light. Just got my first light this year, but I wish I'd started years ago...