You have to be a little dedicated, or a little crazy, or some of both, to fish year-round, in Kansas. But that's all I know and some of the best fishing trips of the year, especially for crappie, take place in December, January and February.
Granted, I'm not as die-hard as I once was as I used to fish in snow and sleet, provided the wind didn't howl. Wind is the biggest limiting factor and too much is exactly that in the winter. Now that I'm older and wiser (maybe tired and lazy), I don't fish in those conditions any more. But in Kansas, even in the middle of winter, we have enough nice days to pick and choose and find at least a couple a month to hook up the boat and head to the lake. Granted, we're often bundled up in full winter gear of coveralls, coats, stocking hats and gloves, but you have to when the temp's are still in the 20's and 30's. I prefer 40's and 50's, but you have to work with what Mother Nature deals you.
Ice is also a limiting factor. While some anglers love ice fishing, I'm not a fan. Actually, I'm not a fan of BAD ice fishing. I love GOOD ice fishing, but when it's not it's far-fetched for me to believe something good is going to happen in that 8-inch column of water I'm covering. That's why I'd rather be sitting on the front of my boat. It's comfortable and way more mobile.
That's exactly what a few friends and I decided to do recently just prior to this round of winter weather. We loaded up a couple boats and headed out to a nearby reservoir shortly after lunch. My buddies had been catching plenty of crappie and this would be my first trip out in a month or so. I would soon be glad I made the trip.
We had to break rotten ice much of the way to our intended destination in the upper end. Our plan was to fish river channel breaks and finding a brush pile on said location would be a bonus. We hit a couple spots where they'd caught them previously and caught only a handful of smaller crappie with one decent-sized 11 incher.
It wasn't long and my buddies in the other boat managed to find some hungry fish. They didn't mind sharing and we eased up and started catching crappie, too. We were fishing 13-17 feet of water as we dropped 1/8-ounce jigs to the bottom and reeled up one crank. The color of plastics didn't seem to matter as black and pink, blue and chartreuse and several other combinations produced fish.
Each boat had dozens of crappie to clean and a mess for everyone to take plenty home. None of the fish were huge and my boat had nothing over 12 1/2 inches. Most crappie were 10-11 1/2 inches and in my book those are perfect eaters. One small fillet, dipped in Andy's Yellow or Shore Lunch batter and deep-fried, is a bite-sized morsel fit for a King. I'll have to savor the flavor of these last few fillets until I get another chance to go as it's always fishing season!