John's Journal...

Fish Black Nights to catch White Crappie This Summer

Day 1: The Equipment Needed to Take Starlight Summertime 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.

Click for Larger View“The biggest problem with fishing for crappie during the hot summer months is keeping your minnows alive and lively,” my friend mentioned to me before we fished for crappie. “Because the water’s so hot, an aerator is a must.” I like an aerator that puts-out millions of bubbles that come from the bottom of my bucket and float to the surface. But aeration alone won’t keep minnows from dying. According to another angling friend of mine, “Fill plastic medicine bottles 3/4 of the way to the top with water. Click for Larger ViewThen screw the lids tight on the bottles, and put the bottles in the freezer. As soon as you buy your minnows from the bait store, place one of these bottles of frozen water in your minnow bucket. I use to put ice straight in my minnow water, but apparently some of the minerals in the ice killed the minnows. Since I’ve started using the iced medicine bottles and the aerator, I rarely lose a bait.”

Click for Larger ViewFor a rod, I like a lightweight crappie pole and an ultra-light rod. After putting a small weight on the end of the line, I then fish with a crappie rig that consists of two drop lines coming off a mainline. I usually fish 4- to 6-pound-test line. When I fish with a crappie pole, I rig with a crappie hook, a small shot lead and a quill cork and set the corks on the outside edges of the light. Usually I fish two poles and one rod. My fishing companion generally will have the same number of lines down that I do. Many crappie anglers use lanterns, either floating lights that shine a beam down deep toward the bottom or a lantern that draws-in bugs and allows the bugs to fall into the water. Click for Larger ViewPersonally I use both types of lights to make sure I’m fishing the right way. I prefer to bait with live, large, shiner minnows. My personal experience has been that the bigger the minnows I fish, the larger the crappie I’ll catch. However, I also carry at least a half-dozen 1/24- and 1/32-ounce jigs with me. Then if I run out of minnows or my minnows start to die when the crappie begin to bite, I still have bait to fish.

Tomorrow: Where to Fish for Nighttime Summer Crappie

Check back each day this week for more about "Fish Black Nights to catch White Crappie This Summer "

Day 1: The Equipment Needed to Take Starlight Summertime Crappie
Day 2: Where to Fish for Nighttime Summer Crappie
Day 3: Catching Summertime Crappie at Night
Day 4: How the Crappie Position Themselves at Night
Day 5: Warning: Summer’s Nighttime Crappie Fishing Can Be Addictive

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Entry 621, Day 1