Rick Hill lowered the trolling motor into the water and headed into the light southwest wind. He fiddled with the nobs on his depth finder and got focused in. In a minute, we were slow cruising the edge of a Lake D’Arbonne flat in about 15 foot of water, hunting crappie.
No, not fishing. I literally mean hunting crappie. Not fishing. Hunting.
“There’s a couple about 20 feet out,” he said, staring down at the screen on the LiveScope. They were small fish, so we moved on. Soon we came to a stump about five feet under the water. There on top of it was a big orange blip. An orange blip in that spot is usually a crappie. Three casts later, watching the bait fall right beside the small orange blip, the blip turned and ate the Crappie G hair jig. Rick’s rod bowed and a pound and a half orange blip crappie was boat flipped right up amongst us. In fact, Rick believes in those orange blips so much he fishes with an orange fishing pole made by Todd Huckabee rods. We eased around that flat and several others “hunting” and finding crappie. We didn’t catch a single fish that we didn’t see first. Weird.
Except one, that is. I admonished Rick to move me closer to a lone cypress tree where I could drop my jig down and feel the “thump” in about two feet of water. Most fish have moved from the trees, but I had hopes of getting one more cypress thump this spring.
Sure enough, it didn’t take long. Thump! Made my day. You CAN still catch a fish without an underwater camera! It just made me feel like I had been transformed back to the good old days. You know. 2018!
Now for all you folks out there that know Rick, you know actually getting in his boat with him is like, well, the Saints winning the Super Bowl. Doesn’t happen very often. He just likes to fish by himself. But on occasion he has a weak moment and takes some poor, hungry fisherman like me to teach me a lesson.
And as usual, there were several.
* For starters, fishing is different every day. Some days the fish like this. Some days they like that. But it’s always fun. And even when you see one on your underwater electronics and can see your bait fall right by it’s head, it doesn’t mean you can make them bite.
* LiveScope? It’s a blessing and a curse. We cruised several areas that have been heavily fished and saw no big fish. It’s a concern on D’Arbonne, where pressure has increased 10 fold and technology 100 fold, while some regulations and management practices are still stuck back in the days when three wheelers were popular.
* We kept 11 on our trip, but could have kept a lot more. The limit in Louisiana is 50 per person, so if one is so inclined, he and his partner can keep 100 a trip. Most folks are being responsible with their numbers, but even tournament fishermen now are starting to keep larger numbers of big crappie. As I said, it’s a concern. But on with the trip.
* Post spawn crappie are spooky. You can see that on the LiveScope. if you get too close, get your bait to close, bump the boat or do anything to let the fish suspect you are there, they will turn and swim away. They’ll avoid you like Biden’s press secretary avoids answering a simple question. Sometimes they drop to the bottom of the lake like a lead balloon. Again, kinda like …well, never mind.
* We did learn one new technique that you can only employ this time of year. We fished the pollen line. Not the one on top of the water, the one in the water. Seriously, this new technology is so vivid, you an see pollen in the water. The photo above pretty well proves that for any skeptics.
* We did also learn that the fish don’t seem to like the pollen-filled areas, but will lay up on the edge of it, kind of like they do on the edge of a grass bed. Perhaps the pollen explains why fish are so spooky. Maybe it makes a fish sneeze and then all the others scatter?
And maybe that’s a good place to end this fish story. Gesundheit!