Crappie anglers, put the ice auger and other ice-fishing gear in the shed and come on down to fish where it's warm. Crappie fishing is already red hot in many Florida lakes and it's still considered early season here.
Last year, 15,960-acre Crescent Lake in Flagler County got rave reviews from tournament crappie fishermen. A 2.63-pound wish won the big fish award, and the winning weight for seven fish was a whopping 14.5 pounds.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission uses a variety of data to publish a list of the state's top crappie lakes. But these are just the larger, better-known lakes and don't include myriad other waters where the species is abundant. Residential lakes, creeks with deep oxbows and even farm ponds are holding.
There isn't a better-eating fish in fresh water. We fry them up with heaping helpings of cheese grits and collard greens. If you like some heat, add jalapeno peppers to the cheese grits, and put some cayenne pepper in the collard green pot liquor.
Night fishing around portable lights or dock lights is often best. Throw a spinner bait such as the venerable Beetle Spin during the day. This lure is a great fish finder, and works well trolled.