Our long and drawn out early ice this season has put a damper on our night trips but we finally made it out for a few hours last week. Ice conditions were good with almost a foot of ice as we scouted an area to set up for the evening. It’s usually in your best interest to doing a little bit of scouting before you land on a spot for the night, especially if your fishing a new body of water or if the fish your after are difficult to pattern.
We cut a string of holes an hour or so before dark. We focused our attention a few different points of natural structure. This particular basin lake had a few small weed covered humps protruding out of relatively deep water. We started our line of holes on and around the hump in an attempt to locate fish. After fishing through the holes, we decided to cut along the weed edge on the first major contour break. It didn’t take long for us to hit a hole with with active crappie in it. After we iced our first fish, we decided that was enough for us to set up the Clam hub and our Hydro Glow fishing light for the night.
There were some active fish in the area as we were able to hook into them right off the bat. The fish were coming through in waves, maybe five to six at a time right near the bottom. Most times we find them suspending just above the weeds but that’s the beauty of having a fish finder. Adjusting to the bite is much less troublesome when you can see where the fish are rather than guessing.
The fish bit pretty consistently until 7:15 but we stuck it out until 8:15 in case things changed. They didn’t so we headed home and packed up for the next morning!
I took the day to catch up on chores around the house but made plans mid day to chase an evening crappie bite with my buddy Mark. We ended up on the ice shortly after 4 and got right into the fish.
The fish were cruising a weed flat in 10-12 feet of water. They preferred the holes with weeds that came up to about 5 feet but could be caught just about anywhere. When you found them, they were super aggressive! We tried multiple jig, plastic, meat combos but it didn’t seem to matter as long as it was moving.
As the sun started to set, the fishing slowed but with fish still cruising, you just had to wait. Just about every fish that went through bit. As time went by we iced some nice crappie with the biggest pushing 13″. While the majority of the fish came through 6-8 feet off bottom, we did pick several right out of the mud.
We released them all for next time and packed it in just before 10.
Mary and I had to postpone our Valentine’s date due to weather issues but we finally made up for it. It was a cold night but with the Clam Bigfoot XL4000t and a Mr. Buddy heater, it was comfortable.
We hadn’t been smelt fishing together yet this winter and on this particular lake, our experience was limited. Regardless, we set up the shack after shoveling a foot of snow so we could have some smooth ice. It was still light out and there were no fish on the screen. but we had to start somewhere.
After setting up the Hydro Glow Fishing Light and rigging up our rods, the sky was dark and we started the first descent. As we neared bottom, flickers appeared and the night bite began. The fish were biting but stayed loyal to the bottom. The goal was to move them towards the surface so when we did hook up we tried to reel them in slowly so that the others would chase up.
We were able to move the fish up after only a short while, but any commotion nearby scattered them right back down. Even someone just shutting a car door ended the bite! Fortunately, they were aggressive enough to come back up with little effort.
Around 8, things changed for the better. Everyone settled in for the night and the fish came right up under the ice! We sight fished for the last couple hours before heading home. It was a great way to end the night
I made way for the big lake while the snow was flying. I intended to set up in the dark with the Hydro Glow for crappie but struck out after forgetting my wallet and having to back track. With only an hour till day light and no starting point, I cut a short string of holes hoping that one would offer decent weeds.
None of the holes looked great but I set up in the only one that had decent weeds. They were standing about 4 feet tall in 9 feet of water. While I only stuck one fish before sunrise, I saw several fish marking high so I figured I was in the right area. As I started to see daylight through my Clam one man shack, I decided it was time to shred the area in search of fish.
After cutting out a rather large area, I grabbed my camera and started looking around. I went nearly an hour and a half without seeing much more than a few pumpkinseed. I knew something was off so I started cutting in other directions. I tried south and west first but finally found some crappie set up to the north of my initial location.
I shacked up after locating a nice pod of fish and tried my luck. I caught one within a few minutes and then another. The third fish, however, was a heart breaker. As the two pound black poked into my hole, I realized that it had wrapped up in my transducer. When I tried to remedy the situation, it backed out of the hole and made a run, snapping my line.
For a while the bite got tough. Be it a lack of fish or lack of focus. I ended up staying close to the one hole that produced crappie and caught a total of 7 more before calling it quits around noon to get home before the roads got much worse!
After a successful jigging new waters, we decided to test out the night time crappie bite. As many of your probably already know crappie can often be great night time feeders. Most fishermen choose to fish at night using some sort of illumination, anything from a lantern to a car headlight. For a few years now we have been fishing for crappie and trout at night use the Hydroglow Fishing Light. The Hydro Glow illuminates by using Green LED’s which are less abrasive to the fish and their feeding attitude.
We cut three holes, put the light in the middle hole and shacked up. As you can see in the pictures below the light really illuminates the ice and the water underneath it. It didn’t take long for the light to begin attracting bait-fish and crappie. Dylan hooked into a crappie within the first 10 minutes of the light being deployed. Night fishing requires a lot of patience. The fish typically are cruising at night searching out an easy meal. The longer you can stay in a hole with fish nearby the better chance you will have of putting a few topside. We fished them the same as we would during the day. Small jigs tipped with Maki Plastics and spikes.
The area we were fishing didn’t have much for weeds or any other kind of structure. When you would mark a fish on the bottom they were usually pretty easy to entice them into biting. We were able to ice a decent number of crappie with a few bluegill and perch mixed in a matter of a few hours. Not a bad first trip for a new spot.
We have had some great days during heavy snowfalls and today was no different. I arrived to my spot later than anticipated after missing my alarm and having to deal with snowy roads throughout the entire drive. I was cutting my first hole after 9 am though and was pleasantly surprised to see nothing but crappie as far as I could see on my underwater camera. After cutting another dozen holes, I got to fishing.
The first, second, and third fish that I caught were all crappie. The size also increased throughout as well. After the first three drops, I began catching mostly pumpkinseed so I moved on. The fishing slowed the deeper that I went so I was able to dial in an area and cut more holes over the sweet spot.
Throughout the day, the fish bit consistently as long the wind wasn’t blowing from the north. Mostly, the wind came from the west but it was variable and gusty. Fortunately, it switched often enough so that I never went long without a fish! When the wind stayed constant from the north, I used the downtime to search for better pods of crappie.
It’s always a toss up whether noise scares fish. Sometimes one auger is fine but two is too much. Other times it fires them up or scares them away. Today, cutting holes worked to my advantage. The noise seemed to scare the pumpkinseed and bluegill away. When they were gone the crappie fed heavily! I was able to capitalize during these times to add to my collection of fish!
After working at the Yankee Sportsman Classic in Essex the last two days, a night bite for smelt sounded ideal. We were on the ice and had the Clam Bigfoot XL4000t set up with in minutes of 8pm. With the Hydro Glow glowing bright it only took a few seconds for the smelt to stack up under us in 30 feet of water.
We sat in one spot all night with no shortage of fish at any point. They were cruising throughout the entire water column with the most active zone being 6-10 feet. You could also sight fish them just below the ice but they seemed to be missing the bait almost every time they went by no matter how hard they charged.
We were running small flasher jigs with with tiny jigs tied inline above. The bit was good on both smelt chunks and maggots. Getting them to bite on plastics didn’t go so well though. Dead sticking produced a steadier bite than jigging as well!
We also had a nice visit from the local warden. He came in after we had been there for a bit with his truck blacked out and night vision going. Glad to see that they are out after dark keeping people honest!