Writing a monthly column on crappie fishing ties one's thoughts to seasonal fishing. That is, from month to month, one can't help but think of how fishing seasons and patterns change.

This month, I'm loving it because we're coming into one of the very best crappie fishing seasons - autumn. Some of you know how I love to crappie fish this time of year.

I want to recall some really good fall fishing trips I've had in the past. In my mind, I'll try to work backwards, chronologically speaking. I've been told more than once that I tend to get things backwards a lot, so this ought to work out just fine.

Last fall, in fact it was right about the time you'll be getting this October issue in the mail, Jim McKay and I traveled to Grenada the last weekend in September. We geared up at the very last minute because a couple of fellow Magnolia Crappie Club members who were fishing the Crappiemasters National Championship tournament called on Friday after the weigh in to tell me how great the crankbait bite was in deep water at Grenada.

I called my buddy Jim and asked if he wanted to go drag some cranks up at Grenada the following morning.

"Yep", he said. "I'll meet you at my boat shed at 4 a.m."

Once, loaded and on the road, I began to tell Jim about the conversations I had the afternoon before.

"They say as long as they're in water deeper than 25 feet and fishing close to the bottom, they're catching monster-size crappie!"

Jim and I had had some success pulling crankbaits in our club tournaments; in fact, Jim and his regular MCC tournament partner, Tommy Moss, had won a couple of tournaments pulling crankbaits they borrowed from me. I had come in second or third a time or two using the same strategy.

We waited until the tournament teams had plenty of time to get out on the lake before we put in. From the north end of the Grenada dam, we ran toward the middle of the lake. As soon as we hit 30 feet of water, I shut down the big motor, and we cast out six rods with Wiggle Warts tied to the end of our lines.

We caught the first 2-pounder right off the bat. Shoot, we hadn't trolled 50 yards. Then we went a long time before getting another strike, and we didn't get catch another fish until I started changing out lures trying to find a color they liked that particular day.

Once we found the "right" color - that day it was fluorescent orange - we hammered 'em. The early morning drive was well worth the result. Look, we had half a livewell full of some of the biggest crappie I've ever seen. All came on cranks swimming about 14 to 16 feet deep in water depths from 25 to 35 feet.

Later last fall, I had two of my personal best days on the Rez - ever. Again, pulling Wiggle Warts on six poles behind my boat in the main-river ledge north and south of the Highway 43 Bridge. It was absolutely amazing, and I'd say unbelievable if I hadn't had 50 or so witnesses - some bragging on my technique and results and some just grumbling things I couldn't quite make out as I trolled close by where they were not catching any on minnows.

I was by myself this time in the boat, and the fish were so aggressive I couldn't manage all six poles. So, I quickly found myself pulling four Wiggle Warts instead of six, and several times I had multiple fish on. And I'm talking about good fish, too. I didn't catch a crappie for those two magical days under a pound and a half.

Having four giants on at the same time, 100 feet behind the boat, is a rare but outrageously fun thing to experience.

Still later in the fall - it might actually have been early winter - in the rain over at Chotard, Jason Eichwurtzle and I had a really good day pulling crankbaits. We fished right out in front of Chotard Landing toward the Tennessee Chute. The gar were non-existent, and the white perch were cooperating. And, the rain? We didn't even notice the rain, we were having so much fun.

You are getting a pattern here, right? Lately, I've been doing a lot of crankbait fishing. It is a blast.

But let me tell you one other outstanding fall fishing story that comes from two or three falls ago - before I got so crankbait smart. As I recall, it was right around Thanksgiving time. Shelton Culpepper called to tell me about the bite over at Chotard.

I was glad Shelton called. I learned that the bite had been on for the last month before he called, but, nonetheless, your buddies will eventually take care of you.

"Get you some minners and get yore butt over here! They're slammin' it!" Shelton exclaimed.

So early the very next day, I showed up and got a lesson real quick. The white perch, the great big ones, mind you, were out in the middle chasing shad, and were as aggressive as I've ever experienced.

And they were only 4 to 5 feet deep in water depths from 12 to 25 feet. And they weren't just biting. They were, as Shelton said, "slammin' it."

I'm here to tell you, it was like those great big monsters were backing off a step or two and then getting a running start at my live bait.

The bites were so fast and aggressive that the first thing I'd see would be a 2-pound slab doing a back-flip on the end of my short string - that, or if she came from the other direction, my 14-foot minnow poles bent double toward the back of my boat before I could react. Man, I can't wait until November again.

Here's why fall crappie fishing is so danged good. It's biological. Fish have to feed up for the coming winter. Healthy crappie gorge themselves, mostly on shad, and put on a protective layer of fat for the cold, lethargic winter days ahead. Plain and simple, and it's just as predictable as the spawning season in the spring.

Man, it's great to be a crappie fisherman here in Mississippi, catching as big as they grow during the fall months.

Go to any crappie lake from right now until it turns so cold you can't stand it, and I promise you'll fill the freezer with crappie fillets.