BY Judy McIntyre

My first two articles dealt mostly with the birds on Sibley Lake, but there are many more residents in my cove that teach me things about life.  As quarantine drags on, I find myself spending more and more time on my dock.  I love to be there for sunrises and sunsets, but most of the time, I follow the fishing times posted according to the Solunar theory, and I fish.  The Solunar theory posts major and minor times which tell fishermen when the fish are most active and most likely to bite.  Over the last ten years, I have created a list, “What I Learned From Fishing” on my iPhone.  So today, I would like to share with you what I have learned from the Crappie (aka White Perch, Sac au Lait) in Sibley Lake.


  • There is a veritable zoo around my dock for me to enjoy while I am fishing. (And this makes being quarantined much more bearable.)
  • Unlike some fishermen, I don’t have to catch anything to have a good time!
  • In the spring, God teaches me patience (I am a slow learner!) as the Crappie (Pronounced Croppie) start towards the bank to spawn, the weather changes and they move out to deeper waters.  So I wait!  They start and stop multiple times. I have to wait on the dock for them to come to me.   Patience is painful to learn.
  • If I don’t get to fish I get a “crappie” attitude!  (I have this T shirt!)
  • A fool and his/her money are soon parted in WalMart’s fishing department.  
  • If you leave your minnow bucket lid up, the blue heron will throw a party on the dock and your minnows will be the appetizers!
  • Every sunrise and sunset is the prettiest one I have ever seen!
  • The lake water wears many different colors.
  • I have learned that the minute I look away from my cork, I get a bite!  Always!
  • White Crappie and Black Crappie wear their stripes differently.
  • Crappie are like small children, sometimes you have to work the bait to get their attention.
  • There is nothing quite as pretty as warm lake water and cold air—the wisps of evaporating water makes the lake look like the meringue on a pie!
  • Toward dusk, the tree frogs all start singing at the exact same moment.  I have determined that they must have a conductor.
  • I can doze on the dock with a crappie pole in my hand and still catch a fish.  I have skills!
  • Red eared turtles sit on a log and watch me fish.  They tease me by chasing my cork and eating my minnows.   They are not my friends!
  • Alligator gar and big carp are the mafia families of Sibley Lake.  When they visit the cove, every creature in the cove goes into hiding.
  • It is tough to be a minnow.  When you are the lowest one on the food chain, your life is spent running from danger.  They live every minute under a red alert.  Now that is stress.
  • Crappie are picky about their jig colors (jigs are artificial baits with a head and a fancy tail that hides the hook).  Crappie prefer obnoxious colors spiced up with feathers, a little glitter, and silver tinsel!  They are fans of Lady Gaga’s wardrobe.  
  • Male Crappie have multiple roles to play in the spawn as they have to go to the shallows and use their tails to make a round nest for the female to lay her eggs in.  The first fish to come to the bank are the males.  As a fisherman, early in the morning, I can spot where they are working on their nests.  There will be mud swirls in the water, and if I throw a minnow in their direction they will take a work break and eat it up.  And then there will be a tug of war!
  • The first fish I catch during the spawn are males with tattered tails.  I guess that is where we got the saying “work your tail off!”
  • A lake can get all whipped up over nothing but a little bit of hot air.  A gossipy woman can do the same thing!
  • Just like the government is watching people’s temperatures during this Pandemic, fishermen start watching water temperature as a clue to when the Crappie will spawn.  Because I am fishing from a dock, I don’t have access to a GPS which would tell me the temperature of the water, BUT I have this cute hippo with a digital temperature indicator on his belly.  It is a baby bath thermometer and it works just fine.  I tie a string to it, drop it in the water and I get excited when the water is approaching 65 degrees!  Take that Bass Pro!
  • Nothing beats fishing on a clear, starry night with a lighted cork.   
  • When my cork goes under, my adrenaline goes up.
  • Crappie like to hang out close to a hiding place (sunken tree tops), sort of like sticking close to a storm shelter during a tornado alert.  
  • When you pull up a fish basket full of your day’s catch, be prepared for a violent protest and a shower of water.  
  • When I catch a Crappie, the bigger the fish, the wider my grin.
  • I have learned that if I want to be a fisherman, I need to practice observing everything at the lake:  the weather, water temperature, wind direction & speed, egrets gathered on the shoreline, preferred colors of jigs, the Solunar theory, the clarity of the water, the depth of a catch, and the wonder of it ALL!  My God is an awesome God.  And He loves fishermen!

6 thoughts on “MUSINGS FROM THE LAKE

  1. Judy, your article makes my mouth water for fresh fried fish, which I haven’t had since we lived in Lake Charles. I also remember the times Charles and Evans would go to Lake Martin to fish. Long,long time ago. Enjoyed reading all of your articles. Sending them to the kids.

  2. Hi Judy. Really enjoyed your articles. We were wondering if you might be interested in catching 8 white perch and we would give a gratuity and even clean the fish. Ken can’t fish anymore but we still love the taste of fish. We see you at your church senior luncheon. Please let us know. Thank you.

  3. Amen. As an old Crappie fisherman myself and one who grew up on a lake, you nailed it.
    Your writing brings back some memories of fishing with my dad.

  4. Judy, I enjoyed your article! Hope you are managing through these trying times.
    Sharon W.

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