For those who knew what they were looking at and could appreciate it, this was a sight to behold. The scene took place on Ross Barnett Reservoir.

A tournament-style bass boat picked its way gingerly through the edges of the grass and weed beds that blanketed the east side of the Rez. The two anglers who occupied the boat, each with a single long jig pole in his hands, were intently watching the water while dunking a jig in and around every broadleaf patch and lily pad stem they could find.

On occasion, one of the anglers in the boat would haul back on the rod and flop a nice-sized crappie into the boat, unhook it and return to fishing. The scene went on for several hours. While what was taking place may not be out of the ordinary on Ross Barnett, the "who" certainly was.

The two anglers in the boat were Bo Hudson and Brad Chappell. No doubt about it, Hudson and Chappell are great crappie anglers; in fact, the pair won the 2010 Magnolia Crappie State Championship. But seeing each of them with just a single pole seemed downright strange because Hudson and Chappell are dyed-in-the-wool trollers.

"I'll admit it, Brad and I long-line troll for crappie most of the year, but when March rolls around and those fish move up into the grass at Barnett, it's time to grab the jig pole," said Hudson. "To me there is nothing like easing that jig down into the lily pads and feeling that solid thump when a big ol' white crappie nails it."

True to their roots, the last couple of weeks of February will still find Hudson and Chappell, both of whom guide for crappie on Barnett under the name of Slab Crappie Guides, pulling some kind of Bobby Garland plastic bait behind the boat.

When Barnett crappie move from the deep river ledges and old lake beds where they've been most of the winter and start shallowing up closer to the shoreline, long-line trolling is still a highly effective tactic for pre-spawn fish. A shallow flat that holds 10 feet of water and lies adjacent to a weedy shoreline makes for ideal prespawn fishing grounds.

"Probably the best example I could give of this type of location is an area known as Clear Lake," said Hudson. "It's about halfway down the lake and has deep water near the channel, but it runs all the way up to the bank where there is a big field of marsh grass and aquatic weeds. We troll along the outside edges of the grass and catch specks first."

According to Hudson, specks, or black crappie, are not as prominent in Ross Barnett as white crappie but do spawn a couple of weeks earlier than their cousins. He says the specks prefer cooler water in the 58- to 60-degree range for spawning as well as deeper water than white crappie. He also states that the last of February and first of March is a good time to catch big specks at Barnett while waiting for the real action to begin.

"When the water temp hits 65 degrees, white crappie will move in to the grass and spawn," he said. "They'll be as shallow as a foot of water, and they can be anywhere in that grass, but 99 percent of the crappie we catch in the grass will be white crappie."

For fishing the spawn, both Hudson and Chappell opt for a 12-foot rod. While feeling the bite is seldom difficult, feeling your way around the grass and weeds can be. Hudson spools his reel with 50 feet of Vicious braided line in 15-pound test. The small diameter line telegraphs the bottom topography back to the angler, letting him know when his 1/16-ounce Bobby Garland Mo' Glo' jighead is resting in the weeds or swimming in an unseen hole in the weeds.

"Braid has no stretch; you can feel everything the jig touches," said Hudson. "I hardly ever break off with braid; usually the hook bends if I get hung in a stump or piece of hard cover, and then I can just bend the hook back."

Hudson suggests anglers take their time and use a methodical approach to fishing the grass. He uses the trolling motor sparingly and avoids putting prop wash into an area he's going to fish. The presentation is to vertically dip the jig in any hole and alongside any piece of vegetation that might be holding a fish.

"You might catch a fish 2 feet away from the last spot you dropped the jig," he said, "so it pays to work an area thoroughly. If you come across any wood structure in the weeds - stumps, logs or an old tree limb - that's a bonus and will likely have a fish or two around it. The same goes for a slight depression in the bottom, just a depth change of a foot or so will likely congregate fish."

Although the team gravitates to the grass when crappie spawn at Barnett, they may not start the day out in the produce section nor will they end the spawning season there. Chappell has found that the first hour or two of the day is better spent fishing along the rocks.

"It's a timing thing," said Chappell. "The northern part of the lake has a lot more vegetation than hard structure, and it seems to warm up faster than the southern part of the lake, down near the dam.

"The first hour of the day is the best along the rocks. In fact, if you can get on the water before daylight, you can fish the rocks as long as you want till the sun comes up. There is very little cover to shade the crappie from the sun, so they'll move up on the rocks at dark and stay till daylight. A lot of anglers do very well fishing around rip rap by only fishing at night."

Chappell's theory is not that crappie move from the rocks to the grass after the sun gets up, but that the rock-loving fish move off deeper and are harder to catch with a jig pole, while the grass fish are there all the time. He has also found that since the south end of the lake warms slower than the north end, the last of the spawning fish to be found will usually be on the south end along rip-rapped banks.

"The southwest corner of the lake has more development," said Chappell. "Much of the lake shore is rip-rapped with rocks.

"Places like the Yacht Club, the Madison County Landing and another spot called Red Top are either lined with rock or have rock barriers that crappie will spawn around."

A typical day's fishing for Chappell and Hudson might include putting in at either the Rankin or Madison county landings before sun up, fishing the rocks on the south end of the lake for a couple of hours, then making a 6- or 7-mile run and fishing the grass on the east side of the Rez in such localities as Clear Lake, Oil Well Woods or Gilligan's Island.