I’ve heard about how good a crappie fisherman Rick Hill is since I started chasing the white perch myself. Rick lives on the lake. I mean he LIVES on the lake. He has a house on the side of the lake that he stays at some of the time, but he spends all of the time he can ON the lake. In his boat. Fishing. For crappie.
Rick almost always fishes by himself, but I told him if he ever wanted to go give somebody a lesson, I’m a willing learner. So I was happy when the text message came through from Rick telling me the time just might be right!
We headed out up the D’Arbonne arm of the lake with the idea of fishing some of his best spots. The first big cypress tree we pulled up to in about four feet of water didn’t disappoint.
It literally had thousands — okay, at least hundreds — of crappie swimming around in a bunch. I’d never seen anything like it.
“We will be wasting our time fishing here,” Rick said, pointing out the thousands of crappie to me.
You see, the crappie that had nested by that tree in a group of cypress knees had probably already left. The last of the male crappie guarding the nest had probably left, too, or weren’t eating. That’s because all those crappie swimming around in a wad were this year’s fry. They were about a quarter-inch long. The had hatched out and were swimming around the tree in a circle trying to figure out what to do next! Hopefully they were on their way to becoming part of next year’s crappie population.
In all my years of fishing, I’ve never noticed that before. Probably because I wasn’t looking. I’ve talked to several other folks who have never seen it either, but have now witnessed that phenomenon as well.
We went on and found some other areas that didn’t have little quarter inch crappie swimming around in bunches. Some of those spots had some big old crappie that didn’t leave in time, so we let some of them come home with us for supper. As I expected, it was a learning experience and just plain fun.
With the growing trend of tournaments and crappie competition, some wonder why Rick doesn’t enter. That’s easy.
“I fish when I want to,” he says. “I don’t need anybody to tell me when the start or when to quit or what day to fish. I let the fish do that.”
Every time I go fishing I learn something, but one of the greatest takeaways from this trip (other than how to spot thousands of itty bitty crappie) was one of the simplest lessons of all.
When Rick is fishing jigs, which is all Rick fishes with by the way, he keeps the bait in the water. All the time. While I was raising mine and moving it from spot to spot, he was slowly swimming his from spot to spot. There’s no need to to into details, but yes, he caught more than I did.
“Those fish you caught…” he said. “Where was your bait when they hit it?”
In the water, Rick.
“Exactly,” he said. How simple is that?