Knowing the rivers are open to fishing and that I can wander along in search of brookies, browns, and bows, is a wonderful thing. However, by the Sunday of opening weekend, the fish are a little shell-shocked and much more reluctant to bite, so passing up the rivers in favor of the lake just makes sense. With that in mind, Darrell and I packed up the boat, gathered our crappie gear, and headed for Fairy Lake. Of course, I couldn’t resist a quick stop at a creek along the way, and was lucky enough to land my first brook trout of the season.
A full parking lot, shore anglers, canoes, kayaks, and other boats greeted us at Fairy Lake. No one wanted to miss out on the chance to enjoy another beautiful spring day. The first angler I spoke to wasn’t having much luck catching crappie, but out-of-season pike were eager to snap up the bait. Another angler was catching crappie in between fending off the bass. Ah, good old spring fishing, you never know what you’re going to get.
With the wind blowing from the south, we found the water had warmed up to 55F. The wind made boat control tricky and sight-fishing impossible, but only a few casts in I managed to hook into a scrappy sunfish. As we continued to work along, the sunfish decided the Berkley Micro Power Nymphs were too enticing to pass up and they made frequent trips to the boat. I would have been happy to call it a day after playing with these feisty fish, but we had yet to land a crappie, and dialing into what the crappie want on any given day is usually how we judge the success of a trip to Fairy Lake. Off we went in search of those paper-mouths.
The lake isn’t setting up the same as last year, not surprising given the complete difference in weather from one year to the next, so our first plan of attack yielded nothing. When the fish aren’t biting, my favorite thing to do is lay back and take a nap. This is why Darrell normally drives the boat. After my brief power nap we decided to move along and try one last spot before calling it a day.
We looked for an area where the weeds were starting to show a hint of green, the depth seemed right, and we found plenty of baitfish. A couple of sunfish inhaled my jig, including one that was chased to the boat by a pike. It made no sense that we weren’t catching crappie, everything just seemed to fit. Darrell had switched to a white curly tail grub and we slowed our retrieve right down. Then all of a sudden, Darrell hooked into a crappie – the bite was so light that he wasn’t sure at first if he had actually hooked a fish.
Casting in the same general area I felt a slight weight on my line, as though I was running my jig into a weed. But the weight stayed and I reeled in a little crappie. The bite was so incredibly light that had we been reeling any faster, or using anything more aggressive, we would have missed them altogether. It was a lighter bite than anything I have ever experienced, even during the ice season. Now that we had each managed to hook into some crappie, it wasn’t hard for us to pick them out. They started coming to the boat, one after another, getting the hook removed, and being released so we can catch them again later in the year.
This was our third straight day of fishing and it has been absolutely fantastic. We haven’t been able to fish this many days in a row in far too long. Fairy Lake continues to be good to us, and the crappie there keep teaching us new lessons. I’m happy for the chance to learn, and for the great time I have each and every time I am on the water.