Question Asked on another Board:
About the last ten years I've had great fun right after Ice-Out Catching Crappie in ponds. Using a tiny hair jig(various colors but yellow/black seems best)of 1/64 oz or smaller just 6 to 12 inches under a float. Mainly over a 10 to 15 foot bottom. I've been hammering Crappie like that but I've always wondered why they are there. This is even before the migration to the shallow northwest bays begins, days after ice out. I've suspected that the surface water may warm a degree or two and that they follow the bait fish into that tiny warm zone. That could be totally wrong, which is why I was wondering what Daryl or anyone else thinks about that scenario. It works like a charm, really consistent fishing, very early season but I know of no one else who uses that technique. So I was wondering if anyone could confirm my suspicion?
Answer Given: (by fisheries biologist in area if that matters )
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>You're asking for speculation, I can do that. In a pond I'm guessing the 10-15 feet may be close to the deepest, if not the deepest, water in the pond. Certainly the crappies will spend the winter in that area of the pond and that is where you are finding them shortly after ice out. Even after they begin moving shallower in the the early spring they will still drop back to deeper water following a cold spell (and we always get lots of those each spring).

Are you catching them just under the surface over that deep water on nice days? And I would guess that you are fishing those jigs S-L-O-W, like just letting them sit much of the time?

Even just after the ice leaves a water body, on warm days, often you can see some kind of insect hatches occurring. So the crappies or baitfish the crappies are feeding on could be rising to the surface over deep water because there are some aquatic insects of some kind there. Or there could simply be some zooplankton there that rise towards the surface on a warm sunny day, and then the baitfish are feeding on those zooplankton. One thing is for sure, a few degrees of warmer water in early spring can be the focus of the entire aquatic food chain. Your observation about the little layer of warmer water near the surface is probably right on.

I would guess that unless the water is dirty, the crappies are actually sitting deeper in the water column and then rising up to feed on natural prey or your small jigs. If you ever watch crappies in an aquarium you will see that they are master "sneakers." They spot a prey item at a distance and then they just kind of nonchalantly drift over that way ("don't mind me mister minnow, just a friendly ole crappie drifting around here in the water enjoying the day" ). Then they get within striking distance, especially if they have that prey item pinned up against some type of cover or structure or the surface of the water where they cannot get away, and all of a sudden the gills flare and the mouth opens and BYE-BYE prey item.

Don't get me wrong, when crappies are really "on" they can pursue prey and put on a good feeding frenzy, but they are masters of the slow sneak, habituation, plan of attack. That is why slow presentations and keeping your baits at the same productive level are so important in most crappie fishing.

I'll quit rambling now. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Now, what do you think of the question and answer?