Blackout Crappies

Northland’s Brian “Bro” Brosdahl snipes overnight crappies with a shot of Super-Glo

BEMIDJI, Minn. (December 13, 2023) – A great ice fishing mind (Dave Genz) once said, “everyone’s a better angler when the sun hits the top of the trees.” That’s a fact. Genz made his name teaching ice anglers how to locate and catch panfish during daylight hours, when it’s typically tougher sledding.

There’s another epoch when the bite can be even harder: total darkness. In a bitter irony, it’s the only available window for many ice anglers. With daylight hours bottoming on December 20th (Winter Solstice) and daylight savings gone from the clock, the day is miserably short. That’s bad news for the average worker. It’s dark before and after first shift.

There is a beacon of light, however, and it takes the form of nocturnal fishing wisdom from Northland great Brian “Bro” Brosdahl, a winter soldier who specializes in afterhours crappies. Before becoming a professional angler, Bro often held a daytime job, motivating him to crack the overnight code. And, with no argument, he has.


“Crappies are diurnal,” Bro surprising us with a fancy word to categorize a critter that feeds by day and night. “Sunfish species are pretty much daytime feeders, but not crappies, they can go around the clock.”

Bro, however, is quick to point out that nighttime crappie location and feeding behavior – and subsequently your approach to fishing them – differs than by day. “Location-wise, I really focus on basins and deeper water. That’s where crappies settle. That’s where the food is.”

And about that cuisine? Bro is talking about water-life that emerges and rises out of soft and deep substrates. That includes weensy animals like zooplankton – largely copepods and daphnia – that elevate in the evening. You might have zillions of them appear on your electronics in the construct of thin bands or luminated haze above the bottom.

Miniscule bloodworms also activate at night, wriggling out of the lake floor and pulsing through the water. On many bodies of water, bloodworms are the predominant food source for wintertime crappies.

Bro’s best basins configure near significant structure, like a major shoreline point, especially one that held, and might still hold, substantial vegetation. Decayed vegetation ultimately settles and creates that soft-bottomed basin, which houses zooplankton and bloodworms…and Bro’s crappies.

Bro says certain nights are better than others, too, dictated by atmospheric conditions. “Clear is better than cloudy. When it’s overcast, crappies are more likely to feed throughout the day. High sun encourages more nighttime feeding.”

Once Bro knights a lake and probable nighttime crappie topography, he drills a loose group of holes, maybe a dozen, not “over-drilling” and upsetting the area. He needs just enough holes to waltz around and pluck the most willing fish.

BRO TIP: Drill over drifts or patches of snow, especially if the ice is clear. It cuts down on the clamor and unnatural light from a lantern or flashlight. 

Forage Minnow Spoon (SUPER-GLO EXO BLUE)

Forage Minnow Spoon (SUPER-GLO EXO RED)


It’s been known since the 80’s that crappies respond well to phosphorescence – the glowing stuff. Northland has been in that game since the beginning, too, improving the luminosity and decay time (how long it glows) with each season. And, for this winter, they’ve outdone themselves with the new Super-Glo lure treatments.

Bro knows glow. In fact, he was a key beta-tester of Northland’s Super-Glo last winter. “Never seen anything like it,” said Bro glowing with excitement. “They’re brighter and glow longer than anything I’ve ever fished. And the results were evident immediately when nighttime crappies came flocking in to examine the light and then snuff it out with their mouths.”

Bro pre-rigs several Super-Glo baits before settling in for the night, knowing changes must be instantaneous when crappies are afoot. He starts at the upper-end of the size spectrum, first offering a Super-Glo Forage Minnow Spoon. “An 1/8th ouncer isn’t overkill if you need to get down fast and the crappies are aggressive,” he said, also noting that Super-Glo EXO Red and EXO Blue are the cat’s pajamas. Bro also has combos set with 1/16th and 1/32 ouncers when conditions call for a smaller bait and slower approach. Again, he doesn’t want to waste time retying.

Tungsten Bud Bug (BLUE WONDER)

Tungsten Gill-Getter (SNEEZE)

Meat is on the menu, too. Bro tips his Forage Minnow Spoon with a few maggots, waxworms, or small minnow head. And like his lures, he totes a collection of live bait to cater to crappie preferences.

Sometimes, spoons are too much, especially if crappies are dialed into microorganisms. Subsequently, Bro keeps another few combos sporting Tungsten Gill-Getters and Tungsten Mud Bugs, leaning on Super-Glo patterns like Blue Wonder, Polka Dot, and Sneeze. He says the Tungsten Mud Bug is most effective for basin crappies, while the Gill-Getter performs better in vegetation. Being constructed of heavyweight tungsten, both baits have exceptional drop rates to reach fish fast.

BRO TIP: For the most powerful, instant charge, juice your Super-Glo with a Northland Glo-Buster UV Lurelight.

BONUS TIP from Northland Marketing Manager Charlie Peterson: Switch to Super-Glo before daylight is gone in anticipation of the night bite.


Remember that shimmering haze on your electronics? Again, those micro animals rising off the bottom are a good sign. Now you’re looking for solid blobs amongst them – the crappies.

Once identified, Bro bombs his bait until getting a few feet above the fray and slams the brakes. “You want to tease individual fish to rise above the school. Fighting a fish in the mix disturbs things. It’s a cat and mouse game. Keep working the crappies up to strike.” The technique is natural, too, as crappies typically feed up.

Bro also notes that nighttime crappies, especially on deep basins, often lay bellies to the bottom. They seem to materialize out of nowhere when moving on a bait, not appearing on electronics beforehand.

Bro supplements his jigging activity with a deadstick setup. “Sometimes, the bigger crappies drifting through will inhale a small dorsal hooked minnow,” said Bro. “Position it a couple feet above the traffic area.” Bro generally hangs the minnow on Bro Bug Spoon.

Indeed, the dusk bite can be hand-over-fist, but not all of us can be drilled and set for sundown. But keep your chin up. Once those guys and gals are heading back to shore, you’re established, waiting on the next wave of feeding. And the lake will be yours. Enjoy the solitude…

Glo-Buster UV Lurelight



  • Croix Custom Ice 28” Tungsten Tamer (Jigging)
  • Croix Custom Ice 24” Pan-Finesse (Deadstick)


  • SEVIIN GS SERIES (700 and 1000)


  • Sunline FC Ice Clear (2 lb.)


  • Northland Forage Minnow Spoon (Jigging)
  • Northland Mud Bug (Jigging)
  • Northland Gill-Getter (Jigging)
  • Northland Bro Bug Spoon (Deadstick)




  • Otter XT Hideout


  • RAZR Synthetic Ultra Light Drill on a Dewalt or Milwaukee 1/2 inch lithium hammer drill



ABOUT Northland® Fishing Tackle

In 1975, a young Northwoods fishing guide named John Peterson started pouring jigs and tying tackle for his clients in a small remote cabin in northern Minnesota. The lures were innovative, made with high quality components, and most importantly, were catching fish when no other baits were working! Word spread like wildfire, the phone started ringing… and the Northland Fishing Tackle® brand was in hot demand! For 40 years now, John and the Northland® team have been designing, testing and perfecting an exclusive line of products that catch fish like no other brand on the market today. Manufactured in the heart of Minnesota’s finest fishing waters, Northland® is one of the country’s leading producers of premium quality jigs, live bait rigs, spinnerbaits and spoons for crappies, bluegills, perch, walleyes, bass, trout, northern pike and muskies.

ABOUT Bagley Bait Company

The personality of any company comes from its founder. Jim Bagley was an inventive, fun-loving, passionate fisherman who became one the most respected legends in the fishing tackle industry. In late 2010, Jarmo Rapala and a group of investors bought Bagley Bait Company. As an admirer of Jim Bagley for his attention to quality and of his product ingenuity and innovation, Jarmo initiated significant changes in operations, enhanced production processes and quality control. Now in 2020, Northland® Fishing Tackle, along with Jarmo as its Chief Lure Designer, maintain the legacy of creating premium balsa crankbaits and topwater lures, as well as jigs and spoons for both freshwater and saltwater anglers.


Noel Vick

Traditions Media

(612) 708-7339

Jim Edlund

Traditions Media

(612) 481-7396