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updated: 5/8/2013 2:17 PM

Watching a fishing master make sweet music

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  • Spence Petros displays a hefty crappie, a bounty of spring fishing.

    Spence Petros displays a hefty crappie, a bounty of spring fishing.
    Photo by Mike Jackson


There are no trumpets blaring, nor are there any illuminated blimps circling the area. No overt signals announcing the development, mind you.

But there are battalions of swimming creatures priming themselves to do their part to ensure the future of their species.

Spawning time for crappies is also the unofficial signal to all of us humans who have suffered through agonizing winds, frigid temperatures, and out-and-out excuses from those television happy talkers calling themselves weather predictors.

Like faithful and dedicated employees, we are on the clock, investing precious moments while treasuring the warmth of the newly arrived sunshine along with those speckled-bodied fish called crappies.

It's the thoughts of those filets sizzling in that new Teflon-coated frying pan that take us from pond-to-pond.

Have any of you ever been to Orchestra Hall to witness and listen to the spectacular music coming from the stage? Have you ever found yourself mesmerized by the conductor's arms with his motions setting the tempo for the orchestra members to follow?

I know this is rather melodramatic, and I suspect I'll hear from one of my angling pals, A.J. Paul, who will be sure to offer his critique.

The conductor in this case is none other than Spence Petros, the venerable maestro of fishing with his own sweet symphonies honed over a lifetime of on-water performances.

I sat on one side of the boat while I watched his wrist flick the tiny jig to a slice of watery real estate, knowing full well there was going to be a fish ready to eat.

No slip-floats on this foray, but rather tiny, fixed bobbers, 6-pound mono, and a chunk of fluorocarbon line attached to a micro-jig tipped with a tiny "Wedgie."

In past years I would scour the ponds in Cook and DuPage Counties, discovering pods of slab-sized crappies and big bluegills. There were no secret spots in all those industrial park holes, where cars and trucks would zip by them without even a glance to catalog the exact locations of future bonanzas.

There was one pond in Hoffman Estates that I was invited to fish by a homeowner who claimed he never missed a Thursday column.

It was one of those special times when every cast with an ultralight setup hooked up with a fish, both crappie and bluegill. Once in a while a small bass had to share in the action as well.

I remember catching close to 65 fish in just over an hour.

There was another industrial park pond in Itasca that gave me an afternoon's worth of joy with 10- to 12-inch crappies and bass just over 1 pounds.

And in DuPage County's Blackwell Lake to be more specific, it was a treasure trove of pike, crappie, bluegill and bass tossed in for good measure in these first warmer weeks of the new season.

Petros had the natural touch on this day.

He knew the crappies would keep moving around in the shallows, so we did the same.

"We won't need minnows," he explained, "because these fish are on a plastic bite."

Not too long ago there was one excursion with him on a large local pond where we founds scads of aggressive fish in deeper water.

We used 1/32-ounce Mini-Mites and 4-pound mono for our attack.

These fish went crazy for the micro jigs and tails. We finally tired of the continuous routine and moved on.

But now it was pure, classical Petros -- performing his own routines without any applause, to an audience of eager crappies.

•Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at

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