John’s Note: I’ve fished for night crappie most of my life. But when I heard about a possible new and better way to catch crappie at night, I had to try it out. Kevin Caudle from Gum Pond, Alabama, fishes for stripers at night on Lewis Smith Lake in north Alabama. He had told me about the lights and the technique he used to catch stripers. I thought if this tactic worked for stripers then surely it would work for crappie fishing.
“I was looking for a way to draw in bait fish at night in hopes of attracting stripers to bite after dark,” Kevin Caudle explains. “I found this strange-looking light called a Bait Snake Fishin Light, a flexible green fluorescent submersible light that doesn’t float and that you can let down into the water with no weights on a submersible cord as deep as you want to fish. A company called Enlightened Outdoors makes the Bait Snake http://www.baitsnake.com. The light operates off the battery you use to start your boat or off your trolling motor and pulls very-little current out of the battery. You also can buy the light in varying lengths. This green light draws plankton, which attract bait fish like shad and then stripers, crappie, catfish and almost any other type fish you want to catch at night. You can get a light that’s on a cord as short as 12-inches long or all the way up to 108-inches long. Each 12 inches has 600 lumens.
“I use three different lights to attract stripers. When I stop and anchor to catch stripers, I use the 108-inch-long flexible light and put it just under the water right beside my boat. I have two other Bait Snake lights that are about 24-inches long each. I’ll put one off the bow and the other off the stern of my boat. I let these two lights sink down to about 20-feet deep on 20-foot cords. These lights deeper in the water attract shad and other bait fish to move higher in the water, and the stripers will follow the bait. So, I use two separate systems. One like crappie fishermen use just under the water to bring the bait fish to the top of the water and to bring the fish up. Then I use the two deeper lights to attract deep bait fish and stripers and concentrate them. The stripers will feed from about 35 or 40 feet under my boat all the way to the surface.”
Most striper fishermen fish with live gizzard shad. But to get the shad and keep them alive and lively until they’re needed for bait, they use large round barrels with constantly-flowing water and rock salt in them. Then they use cast nets and dip nets to catch the shad, put them in the barrels and later use them to fish for stripers. But Caudle has a far-better technique.
“I take live shad with me like other striper fishermen do,” Caudle explains. “But if I want to concentrate stripers in a hurry, I’ll go by a dock that has a light shining in the water that already has concentrated the bait fish. I’ll stop my boat 20-50 yards from the dock light. My Bait Snake lights will produce more light from 20-feet deep up to the surface than the light shining down in the water. So, I can pull a big school of bait fish and shad away from that dock light using my trolling motor to move my boat and my lights out to main lake points and drop-offs where I want to attract stripers to catch. With this technique, I can take a big cloud of bait fish right to the spots where I plan to attract the stripers. Then all I have to do is bait up with a bigger shad and let that shad down to the depth of water where I see the stripers holding on my depth finder. Right now, we’re catching stripers that weigh 12 to 20 pounds with this tactic while fishing in the heat of the late summer and early fall.”