Crappie are one fish specie that most anglers will readily agree can bring great satisfaction when they are biting but can lead to frustration when they refuse to bite. Crappie have earned the description “finicky biters” honestly, but anglers have come to better understand why these fish will bite with abandon one day and then suffer complete lock-jaw the next day.

Crappie live their lives mostly in deeper water or at least away from shorelines except during the spring when they return to shallow shoreline cover to spawn. It is during the spring spawn when crappie are caught in the greatest numbers. During the spawn, the crappie will readily hit jigs and minnows for even the most novice angler.

During late winter and during the period leading up to the spawn, even the most experienced crappie angler can suffer frustration and tough fishing. The novice crappie angler can become so frustrated that he/she will just opt out of fishing until the spawn actually begins.

We are currently in the late winter period when the experienced angler knows that larger crappie can be caught and large numbers of crappie will readily bite; however, this is the time when crappie are especially susceptible to weather changes. These weather changes include fronts, seesawing water and air temperatures, sunny and cloudy conditions and changing moon phases.

All of those conditions impact the crappie, their movements and their desire to feed and bite. Anglers can become frustrated trying to figure out from day to day where the crappie are located and what they might bite. It might help if the weather were a little more predictable.

Stable weather with warming temperatures can signal excellent crappie fishing and if you throw in an approaching full moon in February and March, you might be looking at a crappie fishing bonanza. Unfortunately this is the time of year that is not known for weather stability.

This brings to mind two fishing trips I made to Lake Oconee a few years ago. The first crappie trip I made was alone and I had an outstanding day. There had been several stable warm days and the crappie reacted positively to those weather conditions.

The following Monday was supposed to be sunny and cool but it was also to be preceded by a significant front that included rain. The forecast for that Monday would have seemed like a great day for the novice angler, but I should have known better than to schedule a trip after a passing cold front and especially a trip that included my wife Wanda.

I knew the passing cold front would likely shutdown the crappie bite but the day was supposed to be beautiful. I convinced Wanda to drive up to Lake Oconee with me and give the crappie a try. She had listened to me brag about the previous trip and I know now in her mind she expected the same results on my second trip with her in the boat.

I should have known better than to take my wife crappie fishing after a passing front. Wanda loves to fish when the fish are biting but when they are not biting she would much prefer doing something else. I had also convinced her to accompany me on a day when she was not feeling well.

She did manage to catch three nice crappie that day and that was better results than the other dozen boats that were fishing near us. I was fishing the same exact place that I had caught so many crappie the week before but this time with no results. Wanda kept asking me when was I going to take her to the place where I had caught all those fish the previous week.

I tried to explain as best I could all the scientific reasons why the fish were not biting and I tried to assure her that we were fishing the same exact spot where I had fished a week earlier. Unfortunately that was not what Wanda wanted to hear. Once I finished my explanation as to why the fish were not biting, she simply asked me one biting question. Why did I take her fishing on a day when I knew the fish were not going to bite? Now she was not supposed to ask me that question!

I finally decided that the day was lost as far as fishing was concerned and I needed to minimize my losses from that bad day of fishing. If I ever hoped to get Wanda to go fishing with me again, I needed to back out of this situation as quickly as possible.

I figured if Wanda survived the long cold ride back to the boat ramp, that maybe visiting the local nursery and buying a few azaleas might do the trick. The idea worked and the azaleas were bought and planted but it was still a while before Wanda went on another fishing trip with me. Believe me; I am much more careful now when I pick days to ask her to go fishing.

That story illustrates just how frustrating crappie fishing can be. Anglers will do well to pay attention to the weather and other conditions as they pursue crappie. I “usually” have a great time even when the fish do not bite. I enjoy the good days and readily concede that the crappie will win out on some days.

For anglers who fish often and just love fishing, the good and bad days are just part of fishing but for the occasional angler including wives, they tend not to be as forgiving when it comes to a bad day on the lake. Well I better stop right here and finish my wife’s order for spring flowers. Who knows she just might decide to take another fishing trip with me. Good fishing and see you next week.

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