PRATT – You don’t have to quit fishing just because it’s hot. You just have to adjust your schedule to fish at night rather than during the day. Oh yeah – and leave a light on.
July and August are perfect months to catch white bass, crappie and wipers under lights. Young-of-the-year gizzard shad, the primary forage in Kansas reservoirs, are just getting to “bite size” and sport fish are busy filling their bellies.
To catch fish under the lights at night, you first need to anchor your boat in a strategic location just before dark. Your best bets are over a deep brush pile or cube cluster, creek channel ledge or mudflat. Once the sun sets, set out lanterns, floating lights or submersible halogen lights, and wait.
What happens is a natural but amazing phenomenon of the aquatic food chain. The light will attract microscopic zooplankton, which in turn will attract minnows and shad. When the lights have congregated a large school of shad – which will often swim in circles around the light as if disoriented – the predators will show up below. You’ll see the shad under the lights, and if you watch your sonar, you’ll know when the predators show up beneath the shad school. Drop a jig or minnow down and you’re in business.
It may take a trip or two to become accustomed to fishing at night, and there are safety considerations to keep in mind. Once the sun sets, your boat needs to have navigation lights on. Motor boats less than 40 feet long should have a white light at the stern, visible all around, and a light at the bow, showing red on the port side and green on the starboard side. A white light should be visible when the boat is at anchor. Wear your lifejacket and become familiar with the area before it gets dark. Go slow and use a hand-held spotlight to locate shorelines or obstacles while under power. If your sonar has GPS, use the map page with the trackback function on so you’ll have a safe route back to the ramp in the dark.
For some great tips on catching crappie under the lights, check out the July/August 2018 issue of Kansas Wildlife and Parks Magazine (ksoutdoors.com/Services/Publications/Magazine). Expert angler and guide, Joe Bragg, shares his night fishing know-how in a feature article authored by Brent Frazee.