Jet airliners roared nearby, either screeching to a halt or powering up for takeoff – seemingly just a few feet away.

They didn’t scare a juvenile eagle or a majestic red tailed hawk as they floated effortlessly nearby, searching the surface of Lake Whitehurst’s frigid waters for an easy meal.

It was late February and it was cold, just like you’d expect it to be.

Lots of folks stay off the water when it’s freezing outside.

Trust me, as I’ve gotten older, I totally get that.

But string together a few sunny, warm days in the upper 40s or better and it’s time to hit one of the region’s freshwater lakes or ponds to see if the crappie have turned on.

Usually they have.

You see, true crappie – some folks call ’em speckled perch – anglers know that this is the time when this beautiful and tasty panfish are starting to think about the late winter or early spring spawn.

Sure, the fishing is slower than pre- or post-spawn and the bites can be difficult to detect, but finding fish this time of year will be a huge benefit when they head to the shallows.

This particular midday Saturday fishing with Harvey Caldwell proved advantageous. He had found fish in a small cove of deeper water close to a timber-filled flat where fish most likely would head to spawn.

Live minnows and a good fish finder proved good tools to get on and stay on the fish. Some hit with that thump all anglers love to feel, but most simply mouthed the bait and made the line feel heavy when you worked it along the bottom.

The catching was just like the temperature – far from hot – but it was good enough to provide a good meal and valued information for the spawn.

In other words, there was nothing crappy about it.

Editor’s note: crappie have long been my favorite fish to target. I like going after them with microlight tackle that includes 2- or 4-pound test line because, when you get one closing in on a couple of pounds, you and your equipment will be tested.

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