Let's talk about some half-truths, some fishing myths and some surprises, if you will, that I've experienced in the last year or two of crappie fishing. What ever you call it, things don't always work out like we expect when we grab a bucket of minnows or a bag of jigs and head to our favorite crappie hotspot.

And, I understand, as I hope you do, that perception or perspective is everything when declaring absolutes regarding the sport of fishing-especially crappie fishing. Your perception is different from mine. Things that are first-time experiences for me on the lake may have been happening to you all the time and vice versa, right?

My point and my goal this month is to discuss things that I've personally found surprising or myths that I have dispelled or half-truths that turned out to be whole truths or whole untruths. What I already know is that crappie fishing will surprise us all at some time or another in both good and disappointing ways.

 

Crappie don't bite year-round. I find it surprising that there are crappie fishermen out there who still haven't come to the realization that the crappie bite is not limited to the annual spring spawn. From my perspective, fishing for crappie year-round has become a given, a matter of fact.

Just a few days ago, I had an outdoor writer contact me to get some input on crappie fishing. He was particularly intrigued with fall and winter crappie fishing. His crappie article was scheduled to come out in - you guessed it - April.

Look, I was glad he called, glad to talk with him, hope I was of some help. But this young writer had only fished during the spawn, and from his limited crappie fishing perspective, he assumed that every other crappie fisherman followed the same pattern.

Actual fishing patterns and techniques certainly change - thank goodness - from one season to the next, but the fact is that crappie bite every day, all 365 of them.

 

Crappie bite best (or least) on a full moon. Again, our personal experiences dictate where we fall on this argument. This one has been a tough one for me to decide for a long time. Mostly, from my personal experience, the full moon detrimentally influences the crappie bite. I've scored too many "zeroes" on days that I learned after the fact - after I came back from the lake shaking my head and swearing at those "damn crappie" - were full moon days.

I've stated to any and all who would listen that you're wasting your time if you try to catch a crappie during the three to five days around the full moon date every month. Indeed, on the calendar posted in my office, the day of the full moon is "Xed" through. That's a "no fish" day for me.

Then it happened. My crappie tournament buddies ignored my pronouncements and proceeded to wax 'em over and over, again and again, on the full moon. They take great delight in informing me of their success on full-moon days. I can hear the glee - that's right, the glee - in their voices. Seems the full-moon problem may be between my own two ears rather than in the heavens.

 

Cold water shuts the crappie bite off. Yes, I know this may be close to the first myth discussed above concerning year-round crappie fishing, but bear with me a minute. Here, I'm specifically addressing how cold water temperatures influence our favorite fish.

Here in the Deep South, we have become accustomed to mostly warm water fishing, agreed? But, let me ask you, how do you spell "ice auger?" I was watching one of those fishing programs from "up north" recently, and I became intrigued with the "fishing the hard water" concept of catching crappie.

Look, our black crappie pale in comparison to the slabs I saw those boys from Michigan catching through 3-foot-thick ice with little-bitty short poles. And, the bream? Man, Eagle Lake bream couldn't swim in the lake with those monster ice fish.

So, don't tell me cold water temps shut off the crappie bite. We just don't know everything we need to in this regard. We don't have the experience those northern cousins of ours have in these extreme conditions.

I was impressed. I'm thinking about trading in my 8-foot jig poles for 2-footers.

 

Black crappie don't chase open water bait. Most of us crappie "experts" would tell you that black crappie orient to heavy structure and the edges of open water on the drops and creases. And, that's true, but it's not the whole truth.

Currently, several of us who have enjoyed a banner fall and winter on Chotard - a lake known for its huge "specks" (black crappie) - will testify that the black-crappie pattern on this paradise changed this year.

We've caught so many black crappie slabs "out in the middle" drift fishing minnows, long-lining jigs or pulling crankbaits that we never got off the "in-the-middle" pattern.

Don't tell me a black crappie won't inhale a 3-inch crankbait or tackle a live minnow right out in the middle of the lake as far away from the nearest structure as you can get.

More than half the slabs that I've caught this year at Chotard have been thick black crappie, and I haven't fished the first top or laydown yet. And I'm hearing the same thing from the best Chotard jig fishermen I know.

The weigh-in for the Jan. 16 Magnolia Crappie Club tournament held on Chotard featured a long list of over 2-pound specks - all caught away from structure. They were chasing massive balls of shad, and the tournament competitors figured that out pretty quickly on T-Day.

Other crappie fishing myths:

 

Crappie don't bite in the current. Ever fish below the spillway on any Mississippi reservoir?

Crappie are shallow-water fish. Go with me one day in the late fall or winter. Tie some more string on your reel before you come to the lake.

Red hooks trigger fish to strike. Or is it that red disappears under water? You decide.

Crappie won't hit a big crankbait. You and most crankbait manufacturers share this belief.

Tournament fishing is too much work and not a lot of fun. Shoot, I find the whole tournament experience to be great fun, both on and off the lake.

Half-truths, myths and personal surprises will always exist in a sport where so many variables and dynamics are in play. What one fisherman believes as fact may only be a myth to the next guy. The one thing that is for real is happening right now. The time for warming temperatures, longer spring days and monster white perch are upon us. Go catch you some as big as they grow.