While this isn't a fly fishing story, well . . . you'll get the gist:

Winter crappie fishing has been catching on
A couple of pros say that you can catch a lot of fish this time of year.

The Kansas City Star

LAWRENCE | Winter used to be the offseason for fishermen.

No longer. For many, it?s more like prime time now.

Take it from Tim Martin and Todd Lewis, two pro crappie fishermen who will speak at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday at the Kansas City Sportshow.

They learned long ago that the frosty days of December and January are no time to stay inside. That?s when some of the year?s best crappie fishing can be found, they will tell you.

?This winter fishing isn?t much of a secret anymore,? Martin said with a laugh. ?More and more fishermen are finding that the crappies will bunch up along the river channels in the winter, and that once you find them, you can have some great fishing.

?If you can stand the cold, you can catch a lot of fish.?

Martin and Lewis didn?t have to worry about the cold on a recent weekday. The temperature was a balmy 55 degrees. But the wind? Well, that was a different matter.

It was blowing hard out of the south, sending whitecaps rolling across Clinton Lake ? right where Martin had caught big crappies the day before.

So Martin and Lewis went to Plan B. They launched their boat in the Wakarusa River above the reservoir and started fishing the calmer, more protected water of the tributary.

?A lot of fishermen think of these rivers as spring spots,? said Martin, who lives in Olathe. ?But they?ll hold fish in the winter, too.

?We?ve had some real good days on rivers like the Wakarusa, the Delaware, the Marais des Cygnes and the Neosho. People associate winter crappie fishing with the big water, but when it gets windy, these rivers are a good option.?

The Wakarusa certainly was last week.

Not long after Martin and Lewis, veteran tournament fishermen and co-directors of the national CAST America crappie circuit, started fishing the brush that choked the river, they started catching crappies.

Martin used his 10-foot rod to drop a bright-colored marabou jig into a tangle of branches. When he did, he felt a slight tap, then a dull weight.

He set the hook, and pulled an 11-inch crappie to the surface.

?We?re fishing the edge of the channel, just like we would on the main lake today,? Martin said.

?The only difference is that the water?s a lot shallower in the river.

?On the main lake the other day, I was catching my fish 20 feet down in 32 feet of water. Here, the deepest water we?ve seen is 12 feet.

?But the crappies act the same way. They?ll be in the cover right where it drops off.?

Fishing those dropoffs, Martin and Lewis caught plenty of fish ? and not just crappies. They also found a big school of white bass and enjoyed a flurry of non-stop action.

By the time they were done, they estimated they had caught and released close to 100 crappies and white bass ? more proof that winter is no time to sit inside.

Martin, Lewis and others already have had a winter to remember.

They?ve enjoyed outstanding fishing on the main lake of Kansas reservoirs such as Clinton, Perry, Melvern and Hillsdale ? and occasionally on tributaries when the wind kicks up.

And as long as the water stays open, they anticipate more good days ahead.