For newcomers to ice fishing, staying out after dark is an intimidating prospect. There’s no way around it, it is more dangerous to be ice fishing at night. Harder to see, colder, and does anything even bite?
With the proper precautions taken, the night can actually be an incredibly rewarding time to go ice fishing. The lake clears out, so there’s less competition, the stillness is intoxicating with its calm, and you get an opportunity to catch some fish that might be more elusive during the day.
Do crappies bite at night ice fishing?
During both the summer and winter months, crappie becomes very active at night. During the colder winter months, crappies move closer together. This is because their forage starts to concentrate, and they need to move with them.
As the winter sets in, crappies head deeper, and tend to move closer together. This is the best time for ice fishing crappies.
How to ice fish for crappies at night
Crappies are a good fish to look for as a beginner to night ice fishing. They tend to come in groups, so while there may be lulls, there will also be flurries. You need to move quick, but it can be very rewarding.
Before going, learn the layout of the lake. Crappies like to go low, but move up to feed. You should look for basins surrounded by humps and reefs. The crappies flock to the basins, and feed at the humps.
Use a glowing jig or an underwater green light to both attract the fish, and show you where the best feeding areas are. Crappie bites are soft, so you may not feel them if you aren’t paying attention. This is another way the light helps. You can better see where the crappies are, and when they move towards you.
A sonar is also hugely recommended. The sonar can help you find the previously mentioned dips and humps, and let you know when fish are around.
The most common used live bait for crappies is live minnow. This can be combined with different jigs to create a very appealing bait.
Fishing for crappies is a balance of patience and quick movements. There may be long lulls where it seems like nothing is happening at all. Don’t be disheartened. When the fish come, they can come fast, and plentiful. Be ready to move, and you may find yourself with a massive haul.
How far down is a crappie in winter?
During the fall, crappies begin to move deeper into the lake. As winter then begins to set in, they move deeper and deeper down. They prefer to be in the lowest third of the lake. How far down they go depends on the size and layout of the lake, and how far North the lake is.
On average, they tend to swim 20 to 30 feet down, in natural lakes. They often find basins and holes in a larger, natural lakes. The further North you go, the further down a crappie will head. Some may travel down as far as 50 feet.
Do crappies bite during the day ice fishing?
Crappies are most active at dawn and dusk, and overnight. While you may catch some during the day, they are less active, so it’s less likely. If you want to catch crappies, it’s best to either get there early or stay late.
Night ice fishing is dangerous, but with the correct precautions taken it can also be very rewarding. If you’re interested in catching crappies, it’s best to stay out on the lake when other people start to go home. As the days are so short in winter, this won’t be hard to do.
When it gets dark, the crappies become much more active. With some patience and skill, you may find you’ve caught a whole shoal.
What other fish are active at night ice fishing?
Crappie and walleye are the most common fish to find when ice fishing at night. While crappies have good night vision, they’re also skilled at following the vibrations and movement of prey.
Walleye, on the other hand, have large eyes that can absorb even the smallest amounts of light. This makes them excellent night hunters, as they can see prey many other fish would miss.
Other options include pike, bluegill, trout, bass, and perch. However, these fish are definitely more hit-and-miss. The best time to go would be on a clear night with a full moon.
None of them have particularly great night vision, so they rely on the light to help them hunt. On a clear night with lots of moonlight, you might hook a few. However, if you want to go ice fishing at night, it’s best to aim for crappies and walleye.