How Do You Catch Crappie in Ice Fishing at Night?
Ice fishing for crappie at night is fairly easy.
Crappie is a night-feeding fish, and you will find the best times to fish them is at dusk and again at dawn.
The technique to catch crappie at night is to jig for them using silver minnow patterns or brightly colored jigs that are easy for the fish to see in reduced lighting.
If you are stocking up on jigs for night fishing, reach for those that are chartreuse, orange, silver, and yellow.
These four colors are top options for targeting crappie, especially for ice fishing at night.
Where Can I Find Crappie Ice Fishing at Night?
Shallow water under ice is brighter than is deeper water.
During the day, crappie hide in the depths and as the sun sets, they move into the shallows.
Crappie are forage feeders meaning that they will browse the available water for anything they can consume.
Unlike other species of fish you will find under the ice, you can actually attract crappie using a light.
The best places to fish crappy under the ice at night is near the shore.
Stay in water that is 5-10 feet deep for larger crappie and even shallower spots for smaller fish.
They will come into weedy beds looking for aquatic insects, small minnows and shads, and crustaceans.
What Is the Best Time to Ice Fish for Crappie?
You can fish crappie during the day or night but the times that crappie are most active is just as the sun sets and again just before the sun rises.
The reason why dawn and dusk are the most active times to fish for crappie is likely that both times are when aquatic insects are also the most active.
That includes terrestrial insects, such as mosquitos, midges, and mayflies, that “dot” the water as they lay their eggs on the surface or on exposed weeds.
Another reason why crappie love to hunt in shallow water is that shallow water is often warmer.
Even in ice-covered lakes, the sun will warm the shallow water faster than the deeper water.
During the night, the shallow water will chill, and the deeper water will remain slightly warmer.
Fish are cold-blooded, and they react slower in colder water.
At dusk, crappie will move to the shallows to take advantage of the warmer water and then recede into the depths after feeding.
Is It Better to Fish for Crappie at Night?
Crappie are more active at night making nighttime fishing a better time to target crappie and not so much trout.
You can catch crappie during the daytime if you learn how to take advantage of their opportunistic feeding behaviors, but at night, crappie emerge to feed. Walleye is another great fish for ice fishing at night.
Crappie More Active at Night
Crappie are the most active during the hours just before sunset and then again just at sunrise.
You can target them all night long, but you will find the better fishing is at the end of daylight and just before sun rise.
Crappies Bite at Night Ice Fishing
Crappie are very active feeders at night.
You will find them in the shallow areas of an ice-capped lake where they will forage through the cover and open waters for food.
If you are new to ice fishing crappie, you will set yourself up for successful fishing adventures if you stock up on jigs that are brightly colored.
The best option for colors remains chartreuse, orange, yellow and silver.
Best Time of Night for Crappie Fishing
You can fish for crappie all night long, but the best times are just before sun set and the next two or three hours, and again just before sunrise for the next several hours.
What Colors Do Crappie See at Night?
Crappie can see a full spectrum of colors and at night they focus on bright colors along with high-contrast colors such as white and black.
If you are ice fishing crappie with colorful jigs and not having much luck, switch to jigs that are either silver, white, black or a combination.
Under the ice, the brightest areas are nearer the surface.
The ice can collect moonlight and starlight to create a small amount of illumination that ranges from the surface and diffuses as the water gets deeper.
For a fish that is looking upwards, it will see the brighter ice as a backlight and will spot white and black more easily.
In shallow water, where you are jigging horizontally, brighter colors will stand out from the drab and natural colors of weeds, cover, and structures. A lovely chartreuse jig will draw crappie all night long.
Come prepared with a variety of colorful jigs in yellows, oranges, and bright colors.
Do Green Lights Attract Crappie?
Green lights while ice fishing do not attract crappie.
They do; however, attract smaller fish and small organisms that the crappie will feed on during the night.
In that way, green lights will eventually attract crappie to your plug.
If you are fishing crappie and looking at using a light to attract them, green is a good bet.
You can also try a white light with low intensity, which may attract crappie and walleye if walleye are present. Like crappie, walleye are more active at night.
Tips for Ice Fishing Crappie at Night
- Set up your ice fishing site early – You want to be there to fish as the sun sets, but you do not want to be setting up the site at that time. The noise from the drill or auger will scare off the fish. Drill a couple of holes, set up your hut if you are using one, and then let the area be until it is time to fish.
- Use a Fishing Hut – A hut allows you to set up a cozy environment where you can relax and enjoy fishing. You can even doze if you get tired. Some anglers will use a small heater to heat the space and the hut will protect you from the wind and windchill. If you plan to sleep while fishing use a rod alarm which will tell you when you have a bite or a fish on the line. Some rod minders will pair with your smartphone to give a chirp when the alarm is activated.
- Keep the Noise level down while fishing – Create a chill environment without music or a lot of talking or walking around. The ice acts like a drum and noise on the surface can be amplified underwater and will startle the fish.
- Fish a range of depths – Crappie tend to feed in the shallows at night, but you can drill a couple of holes in the ice and fish at five feet and then again at ten feet or deeper.
- Go bright – Crappie like Chartreuse, orange, and yellows. They also see contrasting colors well when hunting in a vertical pattern. For horizontal fishing, go with a bright colored jigs. When fishing near the ice, go for black, white, or silver.
- Plan to fish when the crappie are most active – sunset and sunrise. While fishing can be good all night long, you can also plan to relax a bit after the initial feeding cools down. Plan to be up again an hour before sunrise to take advantage of the next round of active fishing.
We also, recommend learning how to fizz crappie.