Wow! What a spring we've had. I can't possibly cover everything related to weather, high water, high gas prices and crappie fishing in this little column, can I?

We've had record floods, record cold temperatures, lots of windy conditions with more than our fair share of storms and fronts. And gasoline just keeps going up and up, making us all wince every time we fill the boat tanks.

In between, somewhere, somehow, we've managed to catch a few white perch. Some good ones, too!

Big perch

Pictures never do a big fish justice, but let's take a look at some Mississippi slabs caught this spring by some of my very best fishing pals.

Yes, big fish were the highlights of this past spring. I'd say it was one of the best springs ever for big, and I mean as big as they grow, crappie. Good crappie fishermen always find a way to catch some monsters during April.

High water

Certainly, one of this spring's biggest headlines was the flooded Mississippi River. The lower Mississippi Delta really took a hit from the high water. Farms and newly planted crops were under water for weeks, and the river-connected crappie lakes were shut off.

Ever hear of having too much water to fish? Well, we did this year, brother. At least in places like Ferguson, Wolf, Chotard/Albermarle, Eagle and many others. At places like Eagle and Chotard, the roads leading to the lakes were under water, and no public access was allowed. On Wolf, the water flooded the lakeside road and all the boat ramps. Several houses were flooded, and access was denied to fishermen.

Even though I truly wish no hardship on any property owners around these flooded lakes - I am very sorry for your losses - I bet the white perch fishing will be stronger than ever when we are finally able to get back on these lakes.

I want to salute all the crappie fishermen who showed restraint and respected the property owners' wishes and stayed off these flooded crappie holes. How would you like to own a flooded cabin or house on Wolf or Ferguson or Chotard and have some jake-leg making boat wakes in your living room?

High gas

What in the world are we going to do, boat owners? I don't know about you, but current gasoline prices are putting a crimp in my style.

After fishing with me in my boat for several days this spring, my buddy, Jim McKay, said, "Paul, if you'll go to the Shell station, I'll fill your boat up - both tanks."

Not really wanting to, but yielding to Jim's insistence, I found my way to the gas pumps with Jim in tow. He went into the store to pay for the gas. When I got to just over $100 on the pump, I felt a little guilty, and cut it off. Neither of my tanks was full. Just how long of a scull paddle do I need for a 20-foot Bass Cat?

Low temps

Remember the record cold nights we had this spring? There were only a couple of them, but they hit right in the middle of the crappie spawn. The surface temperature at Barnett dropped almost 10 degrees overnight, back to around 60 degrees, and the crappie disappeared for a couple of days. Overall, I don't think this hurt the spawn. The cold nights did set it back a little, though, putting the spawners off the bank, back into deeper water.

The Magnolia Crappie Club had to move a tournament from Eagle to Barnett in late April because of the high water over the highway going into the Eagle Lake area. On Barnett, most of the good tournament fish were caught in water deeper than 10 feet - a very unusual fishing depth for that time of the year.

And at that late-April event, we fished in dangerous thunderstorms - a really dumb thing to do. You don't get but one chance with lightning strikes, you know. Thankfully, everyone returned to the very wet weigh-in, all of us just glad it was finally over.

The spring crappie season for 2008 was eventful indeed. We had challenges we'd never faced before, and we still caught 'em as big as they grow.

Summertime tip

Well, now, summer is here. The crappie are dispersed, scattered and headed toward their deeper-water summer homes. Paddle or troll on out to the deep-water stumps and ledges. As the water heats up for summer, don't fish too deep. That's the common mistake made by lots of crappie fishermen.

We mistakenly think crappie go deep in the summer to escape the heat. That just isn't so on many Mississippi lakes. You see, the thermocline that develops in the heat of the summer traps the oxygen within a few feet of the surface. So, even though the fish head out over deeper water, they aren't always real deep. On many larger lakes and reservoirs here in Mississippi, you'll find the best action no deeper than 10 feet.

Give it a try the next time you head to your favorite fishing hole.