Fish Black Nights to catch White Crappie This Summer
Day 2: Where to Fish for Nighttime Summer Crappie
Editor’s Note: The night was muggy. The big, thick, mushroom-shaped clouds allowed the moon only an occasional glimpse of our boat out in the middle of a lake near my home. Large swarms of gnats, mosquitoes and sometimes a mayfly circled the white beam from the Coleman lantern being cast into the dark water below. Often the heat from the lantern toasted the wings of the bugs, which were inhaled by swarms of shad as soon as they hit the surface of the water. We’d been fishing for 3 hours and only caught two or three small, white crappie. “Sometimes the papermouths don’t turn-on until 1:00 am or 2:00 am,” a fishing buddy of mine explained. “But if and when the crappie start biting, we’ll take plenty of good-sized crappie. The fishing will be so fast and furious that we can catch two crappie at a time.” At 2:48:30 am, large numbers of slab-sized crappie began to school-up under the light. We caught the crappie from 2-feet off the bottom to 2 inches from the surface in the 15-foot-deep water. Until the sun came-up, the fishing was non-stop. I held the record for the most crappie caught on one minnow when I put my fifth crappie in the boat and finally retired the bait. Four of us kept 150 crappie that weighed from 1/2- to 2-1/2-pounds each. On most productive crappie lakes, trips like this will occur frequently across the United States throughout the summer months.
During the summer months, crappie will be looking for cool, highly-oxygenated water near structure. When the water temperature heats-up, the fish often will be found on the edges of a river channel or a deep creek channel. Often the very-best place to locate crappie schooled-up during the summer months is on the point formed where a creek channel runs into a river channel. If this spot also has old stumps and logs on it, then you’ll often find a summertime, nighttime, crappie hot spot. Crappie may travel these river and creek channels much like motorists travel interstate highways. These areas are where the most baitfish will be found, and the crappie will follow the bait. When you concentrate the baitfish with a light, crappie traveling along these channels will come-in to feed when they spot the light and the large numbers of baitfish.
If you don’t have a depth finder or a lake map that shows underwater river and creek channels, you still can find the creek and river channel drop-offs and ledges where crappie concentrate during the summer months. Bridges and railroad trestles that cross creeks, rivers and lakes usually effectively concentrate nighttime crappie. The pilings that stand along the edges or in the middles of underwater creek or river channels offer structure for the crappie to hold on as well as provide places for baitfish to hold. Also usually some current is present around pilings. The crappie can hold on the down-current side of the pilings in the slack water and then move-out into the current to feed. Too, the pilings offer vertical structure, which allows the crappie to position themselves close to cover in the segment of water with the most-comfortable temperature as well as the most dissolved oxygen.