Fall Night Light Crappie Fishing

Uploaded by kdwpinfo on 25.10.2010

[off camera]“How the heck are you doing that without any glasses on?”
“Well, it’s a challenge.” “Do you not have problems with presbyopia?”
“No, I’m a Methodist.” “I see.”
As award-winning Outdoors Editor for the Kansas City Star for the past 30 years, Brent Frazee
is usually on the pen and camera side of good fishing. He tells other’s stories of the
big ones that didn’t get away. But what most readers don’t know is, Brent is an
expert angler in his own right, fishing nearly every day that time permits. And I recently
learned one of his favorite fall fishing secrets – night fishing for crappies under lights.
“The great thing about this kind of fishing, is usually when you’re crappie fishing,
you’re fishing right in the brush and stuff and you’re going to lose a lot of jigs.
Not here. There’s no brush around. The structure itself is the light. The light attracts wandering
fish. You’ll see how it sets up, how the food chain sets up. I mean it sets up with
the plankton first, then the tiny minnows, then right below them, it’s the bluegills,
and the next layer is the crappies, and the next layer is the catfish, and sometimes walleyes
and sometimes trout.
This water right here is 40 feet deep. It’s 40 feet deep right down here, and I’m fishing
20 feet down. We sit like Ma and Pa Kettle on the dock, and wait to get a tug.”
After a late afternoon warmup run for bass, Frazee set three halogen lights at a marina
dock to set up a food chain in the clear water. By the time we got back from supper, the water
under the lights was teeming with zooplankton – tiny food animals relished by minnows.
With the smorgasbord set, it was time to catch crappies.
Using 4-lb. test line on ultralight spinning gear, Frazee simply hooked a 2-inch minnow
to a jig head and lowered it near the lights to a depth of 20 feet. Pow! Almost at once,
the rod tip twitched and he hauled up a nine-inch crappie.
Using lights to catch nighttime summer crappies isn’t unusual, but fishing this way so late
into fall is. Frazee routinely catches fish up to Halloween or even later, and guesses
that anglers will quit due to cold evenings before the crappies will quit biting on this
Bites are usually light, so sensitive gear is a must. Strikes are often detected only
by watching for the line to go slack. That means a fish has taken the bait, and a soft
upward rod sweep is all that’s needed to set the hook.
On this night, Frazee caught about 40 fish in several hours, enjoying the full moon and
gentle fall breeze on a Kansas City suburban lake. No one else was around, leaving the
solo veteran to enjoy his favorite sport with no distractions. Fish ran a little smaller
in size than some nights, averaging about 9-10 inches. Some evenings, he catches a bucketful
of slabs 12 inches and longer.
So now you know. Take it from this salty outdoor writer with plenty of stories of his own,
and try fall crappie fishing under the lights. You’ll fill your freezer while using an
unusual and productive method to stretch your fishing time. Brent, thanks for the good reading
and thanks for the good tips.
I’m Mike Blair for Kansas Wildlife and Parks.