Crappie can be a great catch, although they are also a bit tricky, they move a lot through the winter months and keeping up with their movement patterns can be just as tricky as it is to catch them. Staying mobile and using a flasher are the keys to finding these in the winter months when ice fishing crappie at night.
Early ice crappie will often hold to the cover of weed lines and thicker weed beds found in 5ft to 15ft water bodies. The healthiest weeds will hold the most fish during this time as they typically create the most oxygen and attract bait too.
Mid-winter crappie will, however, often be found at the basin of the lake and will suspend around 10ft to 20ft off the bottom. They will stay wherever there are the highest oxygen levels in the water, and wherever the most bait is, which is typically in the top half of the water column.
Later, ice crappie will often be found back in the shallows and around any remaining healthy vegetation. Around this time, if you want to get a good catch, drill 15-20 doles in these areas and use a flasher to mark crappie stratified in water columns.
When ice fishing for crappie during the winter months, you will find that they typically hold together in pods of 3 to 10 fish, and they will likely feed on plankton. You can mimic plankton with a tungsten jig and soft plastic, thus catching crappies and keeping the pod active.
Jigging for crappie is a very popular way to catch them through the ice, whatever time of day it is, simply drop your bait to the bottom and slowly reel up a few feet and work a 1ft to 2ft section of the water column with a series of light pulse and then pausing up and down.
A majority of bites will occur as you move the bait upward.
When ice fishing for crappies, the best time to get them is at night. These fish are somewhat nocturnal, so if you want a bite, get out at night.
Do crappies bite at night ice fishing?
Crappies feed most actively during the nighttime, with their bites peaking at dawn and dusk. You should definitely take advantage of these times to catch the most active fish.
A good technique for this is to jig bright plastic, such as chartreuse wax worms paired with an orange or green jig head, these are great baits for ice fishing nighttime crappies.
If you find that the nighttime bite is a bit tough, then you can dead stick an ice fishing pole with a live Flathead, or a crappie minnow to convert finicky fish.
You could always use a glow stick too, glow sticks attract bait fish, plankton, and crappies. Who doesn’t like something that is bright and shiny?
So, the answer to this question is, yes, crappies do bite at night when you are ice fishing. They can make for a pretty easy catch sometimes, especially if you catch them at dawn or dusk.
How do you ice fish for crappie at night?
Crappies are one of the fish that actually do like lights, and so if you are ice fishing for crappie at night then a colored light will do you justice as it will attract them. The best color is probably green, while other colors do work, green penetrates the darker waters better, it also lacks glare.
Not only does this light attract fish, but it will also attract shrimp and insects, plankton will also likely gather in the water around your light which will then attract the crappie.
Before you get excited, do be careful on the ice, remember that 4 or more inches of ice can support your weight, so do not try to go out on ice that is thinner than this, or you could end up swimming with the crappies instead of catching them, and in the cold, that will be much less pleasant than it sounds.
What you need to do nighttime ice fishing depends on the temperatures. If it is warm enough outside that your fishing holes will stay open, then all you need is a chair, a lantern, your lures and your poles.
However, if it is colder than you will need a source of heat and a portable shelter, most of the time even a tent will do.
One thing you don’t necessarily need but can be useful is a good sonar, this can help you locate the suspended crappies. Remember to watch your pole closely, as crappie bites are very subtle.
You should use a light when night ice fishing for sure as well. And sonar and a spring bobber can together catch out some sneaky crappies that might come up underneath your bait and just try to eat the whole thing!
Best time of day to ice fish for crappie.
Fishing is generally best around sunrise and sunset (dawn and dusk). Sunrise is the golden hour for a reason, the hour after sunrise can produce some of the absolute best catches of the day, not only that, but they are often the biggest too.
If you want to make the most of the golden hour then you should set your alarm clock earlier than you usually would, this is best in winter, as sunrise is a little more forgiving then, and you won’t have to wake up in the middle of the night just to make it to the lake in time for sunrise.
While sunrise is great, sunset is just as good. The hours just before and just after sunset are magical. Weirdly, most anglers will skip this, go home, don’t pack a dinner and get a headlamp because this is your opportunity.
The night bite will carry on for longer than the dawn bite, so make the most of it. Make sure you are prepared and be on the ice for a few hours before dusk, and you will be catching crappies like never before.