Just when the stage was set for one of the best crappie spawning seasons ever on Barnett Reservoir, Mother Nature had a different idea that has many fishermen concerned.
She has thrown a one-two punch — heavy, heavy, heavy rains and gusting winds — that have anglers reeling.
Seriously, of the past 10 days, about two would qualify as decently fishable, and those came during times when the big lake was in the midst of either a rapid fall or a rapid rise due to about 10 inches of rain in the past two weeks.
Add all of that together and the dreams of freezers filled with filleted crappie have fizzled — or at least have been put on hold.
“It’s just been tough,” said Rabbit Rogers, of Fannin, one of the most respected crappie regulars on the lake. “Seems like something happens every day, either with the wind or rain, or the water jumping up or down. We haven’t been able to see any consistency.”
At the first of April, on the new moon, the main lake shallows were showing the promise of what most had expected — a shallow water bonanza around the vegetation.
“We caught a bunch of nice males, already dark in their spawning colors, in there for two days, then, wham, they were gone and they haven’t been back,” said Bryce Weems of Brandon. “We got one of those little cool snaps and then it started blowing in out of the west over on those Rankin County shallows where we’d been, and the fish just moved out. The surface temps haven’t been back above 60 since.
“And since it started raining two weeks ago, the water has been just too messed up. We can’t fish the river because of the current. We can’t fish the open water because of the wind. We can’t fish the shallow vegetation because the fish have just moved. That has left us the few protected areas like the protected side of levees and the dam on a south wind, and those areas have had so much pressure, I bet every rock has been fished five times.”
In other words, the only way a crappie has survived on the dam is to have been on a diet?
“Yeah, sounds funny, but you’re right,” Weems said.
The Magnolia Crappie Club held a tournament Saturday on the lake and Charles Lindsay and Charles Lindsay Jr. of Pelahatchie found one good area, and oddly enough, it was upriver.
“They fished back in the clear, calm waters of the old Hamilton Lakes area and they had a tournament limit (7) of females,” Rogers said. “They were full of eggs and nowhere near ready to spawn.”
That’s good news for fishermen.
It still could happen.
“I’ve always said that April 15 is always around the peak of the spawn and with the full moon Tuesday (the 15th) I thought we’d be ready for it,” Rogers said. “Now, I bet it’s at least next week or maybe even two weeks. Most of the males we saw in our tournament Saturday were as light colored as the females.
“With near freezing temperatures expected early this week (Tuesday morning) it is not going to happen. The water needs to settle. The water needs to warm. Then, the fish will spawn. It is going to happen. It’s not like the fish won’t spawn.”