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Night Fishing for Crappie

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Night Fishing for Crappie

The summer can sometimes be a time when it is too hot to fish. Standing by a lakeside can be unbearable, especially in many of the lower states. And it doesn’t matter what time of the day you wake up, the temperatures can soar very quickly. That is why night fishing can be one of the best activities during this period.

Catching crappie on a summer night is very fun and one of the best aspects of night fishing.

Crappie are known for their incredible eyesight and being predator fish, but they do like the cooler water found at night. If you are careful about how you go fishing for crappie, you might hit your limit before dawn. In this article, we will cover how to properly and responsibly catch crappie at night, including the best crappie baits, fishing lights, and more.

Choose the Lake

Picking a lake is one of the first steps you should make before fishing crappie at night. Lakes ideal for night fishing should be deep and clear with at least 500 acres of water. You want there to be debris and brush underwater so the crappie can hide. Structures like dams and docks are often ideal locations for this predator fish.


You might also want to choose a location that has easy access. Night fishing is riskier for you as you sometimes cannot see what is around you. You might also want to have a location that is far from other people.


Catching crappie can sometimes mean that you have to use fishing lights as this attracts them, but you don’t want to be annoying campers or others in the area who might be sleeping while you are fishing. Launching a boat can also be very noisy, so keeping a location away from those sleeping can be good.


The absolute worst spot for crappie is where the water is hot and shallow. This water is lacking oxygen, and fish there can go dormant. In deeper water, you will have a better supply of oxygen. Stick with this advice along with anything you can get from local bait shops or anglers.

Scout Your Spot

You must scout out your fishing spot during the day to figure out where the fish will be at night. In addition, you should have a couple of backup spots in case your primary location does not work out.

Crappie group in spots where the bottom of the lake drops off. You can find these spots with a bottom-contour map of the lake or with certain fish-finding equipment. Be sure to look for underwater debris that could hide fish. These spots should be marked for that night by GPS or otherwise.

Select Your Night Fishing Gear

Next, you need to select your crappie fishing gear. Being prepared for the best and worst nighttime crappie fishing experience can help make your sessions on the lakes more successful.

Night Fishing Gear

If you want to fish for crappie at night, you will need lights on your boat. Be sure these lights are working before nightfall. Also be sure you have a spotlight, headlamp, or flashlight to signal other boats and see what you are doing. You also should have a lifejacket and your engine should have a kill switch.

You should always set out your gear the day before your fishing trip. Be sure to eliminate any gear that is not needed. You need your pack to be as light as possible. Make sure batteries are charged or replaced so your lights will work. Ensure there is an anchor on board, and that it has plenty of rope. You should also have bug spray as mosquitoes can get bad at night.

Also, ensure that your cell phone is fully charged. If you do have a problem, like your boat breaking down, you want to be able to call for help.


Be sure that you are also carrying the right bait for night crappie fishing. Crappie is a predator fish that likes to see lots of contrasting colors. Sometimes the water that they are living in is more murky than clear. Contrasting colors allow them to see the bait easier.

In addition, you want to have the natural movements of the crappie prey on the lure. Therefore, you want to have something like a minnow on a bobber. You will want to have plenty of spares so that if a bait goes missing, you can continue fishing.

Choosing the Best Rod for Crappie Fishing

You might also want to choose the best rod for crappie fishing. There are numerous options when it comes to night time crappie fishing. You can also have a rod that fits your budget. For instance, those who are looking for a budget rod can find one for less than $50, and for those who are willing to spend a lot more, then you can spend more than $200+ on a fishing rod.

The cheaper options might be a good option for those who are going with their children and want an inexpensive rod for their first. They can always upgrade as they get hooked on nighttime fishing.

Stick to Structures and Focus on Depth

Structures are where you will find crappie, but they are not all the same. Structures at the mouth of a creek that feeds into a lake are ideal. These are perfect spots for crappie to hide looking for food. Bridges can work well. They hang out around the pillars and move along bridges when traveling at night. They move in a way similar to how we would walk along a wall in the dark. They feel their way to their next spot. Also, lighted docks and marinas can work well as they bring in the bugs.


It can be tough to figure out the right depth for crappie, but the clarity of the water helps. In clear water, you can start between 20 and 30 feet below the surface. If it is a bit cloudy, you can try 10 to 20 feet. If it is muddy, five to ten feet is best. Light travels a shorter distance in cloudy water, so keep that in mind.


During the night, crappie does like to move into shallower water rather than sticking to the deeper waters that they hide in during the day.

Night Fishing Light - Light your Boat

You have lots of options for light in your boat. However, light means more than just

seeing what you are doing. The light attracts the insects and minnows that attract crappie. Lights above the surface will bring in the bugs, but that does take some time. Try putting lights on only one side of the boat so they don’t swarm you. These lights not only bring in bait for fish, but they allow you to work with your hands. Lights are also there to warn others who are night fishing that you are there.


When night fishing for crappie, it is also advised that you have a light in the water. You can use floating lights that shine straight down, or you can use a submersible that shines in all directions. You do not necessarily want your baited line right in the light. Sometimes fish will hit at the bait that is on the edges of the light’s area.


Your hooks for crappie fishing at night should be small and thin.  If you get snagged on brush, you want to be able to pull the hook straight.  You do not want a scenario in which you fight with underwater brush for several minutes.  Your fishing gear should have fluorescent markings so you can see them at night.  This includes bobbers, tackle box trays, pliers, and rod tips. Barbless Hooks for Fishing work especially well for this.  They also help keep catch and release fish healthy, so please consider them for your gear. 

Crappie anglers like jigs and minnows.  These are not necessarily your limit on lures for night crappie.  If mayflies are moving on the surface, lures that imitate a mayfly may work.  If minnows are being eaten near your light, then switch to minnows or a similar lure.  Spoons and spinners can be a good alternative.  They pick up the light from a submersible quite well.  The light makes them look like an injured baitfish.

Tips for Night Fishing for Crappie

Start with #1 sized hooks and ¼ ounce sinkers or ¼ ounce jigheads. This is normal for crappie, so you should start there and then make adjustments.

  • If you use plankton style fishing line, it will actually bring in baitfish that bring in crappie.
  • When there is no time to pick up minnows, you can use anchovies whole or in pieces.
  • Get your bait size right. If it is too big you won’t catch anything.  If it is too small you will only catch small fish.
  • The key to night fishing is controlling the light. With a full moon, that is tougher.  Try to let your lights control the night.


Night fishing for crappie can be tons of fun.  It lets you cool off from the heat of the day and can give you a bountiful meal.  However, you should be prepared to make some changes to your strategy.  If you take the time to change your tactics and accommodate the cool of the night, you can come home with lots of fish.  Just think about how light affects the fish, and you will likely see a full stringer at dawn.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to night fishing for crappie.


What is the best bait for crappie at night?


It doesn’t matter whether you are fishing for crappie at night or during the day. The best crappie baits are always going to be minnows on a bobber. These are easily found in most fishing stores. There are other baits that you can use as well such as worms and insects, but these won’t attract crappie as much as the minnow on the bobber.


What color jig is best for crappie at night?


The jig color for nighttime crappie fishing is important. The best color for you to use for night crappie fishing is going to be opaque. Any colors that are bright, light, or dark will work great during night fishing excursions. These colors all offer some contrast, which fish will see better, even in low light conditions.


What is the best bait for night fishing?


Those looking to catch crappie at night will often be thinking of how the crappie hunts and behaves. If you get the behavior of the fish, then you can predict ways to catch crappie easier. The best crappie baits are always going to be minnows on a bobber that mimic the behavior of the crappie’s prey item.


What color does crappie see best?


Crappie is a selective fish when it comes to colors, at night or during the day. However, crappies don’t particularly like to see a particular color, sometimes because they live in waters with poor visibility. However, some research and experienced fisherman have found a combination of black and chartreuse to catch crappie. These are very big contrasts that make it easier for the fish to see.


Is it easy to catch crappie at night?


Crappie is easier to catch at night because this is a period when they are very active, seeking food items. They also tend to move to shallower water, allowing you to take advantage of the smaller size. To help you catch crappie at night, shine a light on the water. This will often encourage the crappie to congregate, making it even easier to get a catch.


What is the best location for nighttime crappie fishing?


It is best to fish in shallower waters that are close to illumination. These are the locations where you are most likely going to find crappies at night who are hunting their prey. If you can’t find an illuminated area, you can use your lights.


Is it best to move around or be stationary when night fishing?


For safety and the best catch, it is always best to remain stationary as much as possible. If you move about you might scare the fish that think you’re a predator trying to catch them. The only time you should move is if you’ve been unsuccessful for a long time in a particular spot and need to find a new location.

Final Word: Night Fishing for Crappie


Night fishing for crappie can be tons of fun. It lets you cool off from the heat of the day and can give you a bountiful meal. However, you should be prepared to make some changes to your strategy. If you take the time to change your tactics and accommodate the cool of the night, you can come home with lots of fish. Just think about how light affects the fish, and you will likely see a full stringer at dawn.