John's Journal...

Crappie Bite in Hot Weather and on Dark Nights

Day 4: How to Decide on Nighttime Crappie Baits and Equipment

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewThere seems to be little controversy as to what is the best bait for catching crappie at night. The live tuffy or shad minnow is the most popular. The next question to be answered is which size minnow is the most-productive for catching crappie at night. Some highly-successful crappie anglers are convinced that big crappie bite large minnows, and small crappie bite little minnows. Once I was in a boat at night with an angler who experimented and proved to me, at least on that night and in that place, that bigger crappie hit the bigger minnows at night. I have a friend who has the mind of a researcher. He brought small minnows and big minnows each time he went crappie fishing and experimented with them to determine which size minnows the crappie preferred every night he fished. Before the night was over, he would have the problem resolved and knew whether to fish with a large minnow or a small minnow to catch crappie on that particular night.

The problem that minnow fishing incurs, especially on hot summer nights, is how to keep the bait from dying before the crappie kills it. Although I use a small, portable aerator in my minnow bucket, I also place a small frozen plastic medicine bottle full of water in the minnow bucket, which gives off enough cooling power to keep the minnows active. I also carry at least 1 - 2 dozen crappie jigs for times when the fishing is better than I’ve anticipated it being, and I run out of minnows. I have saved many a good crappie fishing trip by having a few jigs in my boat.

Knowing What Equipment to Use:

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewMost of the time I like to fish with a medium-action spinning rod and a spinning reel with light pound test Trilene line and a two-hook crappie rig for crappie at night. However, when the angling becomes fast and furious, I’ll often go to a single hook, an ultralight rod and reel with 4-6-pound-test line on it and a small piece of shot lead. I’ve also discovered that when the crappie quit biting, many times I can use that smaller line and no shot lead and let the minnow swim down with nothing but the weight of the hook to carry him to catch more papermouths. I particularly enjoy the fight a crappie puts up on a switch-like rod. I also carry a couple of cane poles with quill corks on them to swing out just at the edge of the lights. Oftentimes these lines will see more action than the tight lines I fish right under the lights. Besides, I enjoy seeing a cork sink and feeling a cane pole bend.

To learn much more about crappie fishing, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks and some print books, "Crappie: How to Catch Them Fall & Winter,” "Crappie: How to Catch Them Spring and Summer,” "Catch Cold Water Crappie Now” and “Catch Crappie All Year: Fishing a Single Pole, Using No Boat and Farming Crappie” by clicking on each, or go to, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer. To receive for free the “Crappie Catchers’ Cookbook,” by John and Denise Phillips that offers free recipes, go to

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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: Learn When to Fish for Crappie at Night

Check back each day this week for more about Crappie Bite in Hot Weather and on Dark Nights

Day 1: When Crappie Fishing at Night Is a Bust
Day 2: One of the Best Crappie Nighttime Fishing Trips Ever
Day 3: Learn to Fish the Right Place and Use Lights to Catch Crappie Night
Day 4: How to Decide on Nighttime Crappie Baits and Equipment
Day 5: Learn When to Fish for Crappie at Night

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Entry 827, Day 4