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Thread: Live Scope Observations at Night

  1. #1
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    Default Live Scope Observations at Night


    Sorry if this post is so long winded but thought I would pass along some observations from a couple of night trips this past weekend. Let me start it off with my usual disclaimer that I am a lifelong striper/hybrid fisherman and just got into crappie more once the forward-facing sonars came out and I'm still learning a ton about crappie in general.

    Friday night I went to Greenwood with the intention of catching 800 to 1,000 threadfin shad in my big tank and taking them to my buddies pond to grow his bass. If you put them in right as they are about to spawn, they will be able to lay eggs immediately before the bass can wipe them out and you will have zillions of fry to feed the bass.

    We went to a bridge that is usually loaded with bait just before dark and tie up. I immediately notice that there are a lot of fish chasing bait on Active Target. We get the lights set up and the bait starts coming but there are fish high in the water column (2 to 5 feet down) crashing through them constantly. They were moving way faster than I have seen crappie move so I was thinking white bass, small stripers and white perch. Out away from the light I could see a large mass of crappie stacked up. The embarrassing thing is I didn't have a single rod in the boat. I was so confident that we would be able to get our bait in an hour or so that I didn't bother packing rods in an already over crowded boat with an 80 gallon tank, O2 bottles, nets, lights and two fat guys. Well that was a massive mistake because the amount of fish activity was unreal. They were constantly busting on the surface, pinning bait right up against the columns. And down deeper any time the bait would start to come through a wave of predator fish would be right in them. When we would throw the net, we would only catch about 15 to 20 shad, not the 100 plus per throw I was expecting. All those predators just wouldn't let the shad settle down and lock in on the light like normal. I also noticed that part of the big mass of crappie sitting out from the light came in closer and started feeding after throwing the net a few times. They mostly stayed just below those faster moving fish. They were more in the 8 to 15 foot range that night. By 2:30 we only had about 250 to 300 shad, well short of my goal. It just wasn't worth driving an hour and a half to the pond for that number of baits so we let them go and headed home.

    Since Sunday was going to be a rain out, I decided to head back to the bridge (with rods) on Saturday night. As soon as we got there, I immediately noticed that the numbers of fish was about 20% of what we were marking the night before. I set up closer to the bridge columns so I could have my rod tips on one side of the boat just off of the columns...since we saw so many fish busting on the columns the night before. I had a brighter light on that side and a dimmer light on the side towards the middle of the bridge bay. Interestingly, the fish and bait wanted to be on that dimmer light and away from the columns. You could see it on Active Target and 80 plus percent of our hits were on that side. The really interesting thing to me is there was still a mass of crappie well out from the light in the middle of the bridge bay, but they were further out from the light than the night before. We finally moved one of my rog holders to a base in the far corner of the boat and put out the longest rod I had to reach closer to them. That rod immediately started picking up nice crappie regularly. The other rods were mostly perch and small white bass with an occasional crappie. It didn't really dawn on me at the time but as I thought about it later, those crappie were in the exact same spot as the night before, I thought it was the light they were orienting too but now I'm convinced that is where they just wanted to sit in that span of the bridge with the current (there was a decent amount of current coming through). If I had it to do over I would have repositioned the boat where it was sitting over that spot where the crappie wanted to be. At the time I thought they were just hanging out off the light so moving the boat would just keep them the same distance away. But the fact that absolutely no crappie were sitting on the down current side of the light either night makes me think that I should have moved the boat to them.

    One other thing that was interesting, the fish had a very strong preference for the minnows hooked in the back by the dorsal instead of in the lips like I normally do.

    The one regret I have from the second night is being too lazy to drag out the net and throw it and get a few shad to try along with the minnows. I have a feeling the nicer white bass we were seeing and probably some of the big crappie would have pounded a shad. Normally the shad get so thick on the lights I do better on minnows than I do when I put a shad down. But the way those shad were getting pounded on Active Target, I think it could have been worth trying. We ended up by 1:00AM with about 40 fish total. 60% Perch and 40% nice crappie. I would loved to have seen how good it could have been the night before.
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    happycaster58 is offline Crappie Wall Hanger II * Crappie.com Supporter
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    Great story. Anytime you want to go on a weekend night, give me a PM. I live in Greer. We can take your boat or mine (19' CC 2022 model with LS)
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    Quote Originally Posted by happycaster58 View Post
    Great story. Anytime you want to go on a weekend night, give me a PM. I live in Greer. We can take your boat or mine (19' CC 2022 model with LS)
    Will do, I'm in Simpsonville. I do a lot more daytime fishing than night but with the forecast for rain yesterday I decided a night trip was my best option. I'm hoping to squeeze in a daytime live scope trip one morning this week.

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    Good observations. Thanks for sharing.
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    Ttexastom is offline Crappie.com Legend * Crappie.com Supporter
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    Thank you for decipering the habits of crappie under bridges. With modern technology it helps a lot..
    John 3:16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ttexastom View Post
    Thank you for decipering the habits of crappie under bridges. With modern technology it helps a lot..
    I have no idea if what I saw this weekend is normal behavior or not. I fished a night this winter and just got near a color change in a creek that was holding a ton of bait on the clean/stain line. The crappie came in thick like stripers do. These fish this weekend seemed really locked in on a zone and not real willing to move. Only exception was after we threw the net several times in a row. I assume it panicked the bait. You could watch part of them break off from the school and shift over closer to the light and go on the feed.
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    STUMP HUNTER is offline Super Moderator * Crappie.com Supporter * Member Sponsor
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    Good report and thanks for posting it. Crappie will setup away from the bait and most of the time it will be the bigger crappie. Rango thought me years ago to always throw out a rig or two with a float and minnow while nightstalking for those fish that hold away from the bait fish. Good luck on your nightstalking.
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    I gave the fish from that night to a buddy and he sent this pic. Really interesting thing is he said every fish was a female full of eggs. Crappie and Perch.
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