Man, time flies when you're having fun, doesn't it?!? This spring has come and gone in a blur for me - just one crappie right after another, all season long. I hope you enjoyed the height of this year's crappie spawn as much as I did.

You do know how you can tell when you're catching lots and lots of crappie, don't you? It's the bloody thumb syndrome, my friend. You aren't wearing 'em out until you wear a hole in the side of your thumb, and it starts bleeding from taking so many crappie off the hook.

Until then, you're still in the bush leagues. And, brother, I want to tell you, I used up lots of Band-Aids the last few weeks. Let me recap a few highlights for you.

For lots of my Magnolia Crappie Club buddies, Christmas came early this year with the crappie season. In fact, one of the highlights of our year was the crappie tournament we had in March at Lake Washington.

For some reason, the crappie in Washington get revved up a little earlier than most other Mississippi lakes. Washington crappie start thinking reproduction when the water temperatures reach the high 50s. And, man, when the surface temperature breaks 60 degrees, Lake Washington crappie have only one thing on their little minds, and you know what that is.

We had an unbelievably successful event with the winning weight of 10 fish coming in at over 18 pounds. All the fishing teams found success in water depths no deeper than 5 feet.

My personal treat was fishing with my daughter, Deanne New, on a pre-tournament day. Deanne and I wore the big ones out! Actually, Deanne, who has only crappie fished twice in her life, outfished me, catching the Big Mama of our day at 2.75 pounds. Great fun. Great day for ol' Dad.

Then, with great anticipation, I turned my attention to the upcoming spawn on the Rez, and I wasn't disappointed. You know that sense of urgency you get when you're doing something you love? You know that weird little smile (or is that a smirk) you just can't seem to wipe off your face? That pumped-up feeling that keeps you from sleeping all the way through the night?

Yes, you do, if you were on the fish like lots of us were from mid-March through practically the entire month of April on Barnett.

And, Grenada - man, don't let me forget Grenada. One of the absolute best crappie runs ever. More 3-pounders than I have ever seen were pulled from the shallows on Grenada in mid-March and early April.

I got my share when I fished our Magnolia Crappie Club tournament the first Saturday in April. Last year the state Game and Fish boys put some new crappie fishing regs in place at Grenada to help produce real trophy crappie, and although we won't know for sure if the "Grenada Plan" will produce more record-sized fish for a few years, certainly they are headed in the right direction.

One of my favorite lakes, Wolf Lake, Yazoo City, turned on in mid-March and stayed hot for over a month. The really big, thick slabs were caught early, before they actually dropped their eggs in mid-March.

I don't have a clue where the really big fish go after the spawn, but for lots of us, they disappear at Wolf until the same time next year. Oh, you can catch crappie year-round at Wolf, lots of 'em, but the really big monsters over 2 1/2 pounds only make an appearance just before they spawn. Don't sweat the really muddy water at Wolf. Just dive right on in. These fish love muddy water.

Lakes all over the state of Mississippi seemed to get an early start on the annual spawning run this year. Unusually mild temperatures in March jump-started things a little early this year. But, do we care? Didn't we have a blast anyway? I sure did. I hope you did, too.

For me, May becomes the calm after the storm. Naw, that's not right. For me, May is the great disappearing act of crappie. I've fished all my life, and I tell you, May is absolutely my least favorite month to crappie fish.

I'm being truthful here, folks. I could sit here and tell you to hit the lake and go catch a mess this month, but I think I'd be misleading you. At least for me, May is the worst crappie fishing month of the entire year. The danged things just absolutely vanish in May, for the most part.

Actually, when crappie leave the spawning grounds, they migrate to slightly deeper waters, and they spread out. They suspend in open water, and become almost uncatchable.

Now, I know some of you "real crappie pros" are reading this and saying, "I catch crappie in May, why can't you?" Well, I can catch a few, relatively speaking, in May. But, my catch is of worn-out, spindly little skinny crappie not worth keeping. So is yours.

My advice to you in May is to take a break from crappie fishing. Work in the yard. Garden. Take a vacation. Visit your in-laws. Give the crappie the month of May off, too. Hey, they just spent the last six weeks making babies, and you know that can be a tiring experience. Come on back this summer. Crappie fishing is great beginning about June 1. See you then, and you and I will go catch some "as big as they grow."