The spawn was fun, and here in Kansas, anglers of all ages were quick to make the most of it. But now that it's over, isn't a reason to put your Crappie gear away, maybe you just need to add a few things to your gear list. Night fishing in the right areas can be just as productive, and on some nights, even better than the spawn. Even though I fish from a boat, there are plenty of places for bank anglers to take advantage of the night bite. The key to it all is being in the right places at the right times with the right equipment.
During early Spring and through the Spawn the best places tend to be the backs of the coves or mudflats near deeper water. They tend to be the first places to warm up in the early season as well as where the pre-spawn fish will start staging. I recently took a couple out on a night trip to Lake Perry here in Kansas. Using a propane lantern hanging off the Driftmaster rod holders to light up the area around a brushpile in 3 to 4 ft of water, on the high side of a ledge that rolled off into 12 ft or so, we put 18 nice, pre-spawn Crappie in the boat in just over 2 hours. Be sure to watch the video below and you will get an idea of how it all comes together.
As the dog days of Summer set in, fishing for Crappies at night offers numerous benefits over daytime fishing to anglers of all ages. Your not dealing with day boaters, jet skis, or roasting under a blazing sun. Summer gives me some of my most productive fishing trips of the year, with one or two hundred fish nights possible. I will target coves with standing timber in eight to sixteen feet of water. I have found over the years it's best to hang them from a tree that is somewhat close to the water, after thirty minutes or so it will start stacking up the food chain, with plankton showing up first, followed by Bluegill, Crappies, Catfish and so on. Once the bait ball builds up and gamefish begin feeding, that feeding frenzy will basically run all night long until the rising sun washes out your lantern light.
When the leaves start to change colors with the onset of Fall, it's time to start working deeper water. Generally I will set up on steep rocky banks where the old river channels run close to the shoreline, or rip rap close to deep water such as on the dam or on a Marina jetty. I still fish the same pattern I use the rest of the year with a minnow on a slip bobber, I just fish it a little bit deeper, around 15 ft or so. It all depends on what your Electronics are showing you, but as a general rule, try to put your minnow about a foot or two below the depth the shad are holding at, the game fish will be set up right below them and that will put your bait right in the Crappies strike zone. This pattern will hold through the end of Fall until it starts getting to cold to be out there at night. No matter what time of year you go out on a night trip, safety needs to be a high priority, always let someone know where you will be, what ramp your using, and when to expect you back. The Lake is a very different place in the dark than during the day, and highly recommend using a guide on your first few trips out.