By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

Longing for a bit of crappie fishing?

If so, said Paul Miller, a former game warden with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and a frequent fishing guide, there are two things to remember: staying in the zone and keeping control of the boat.

Miller, now living in Manhattan, offered a few hints about how best to chase crappie this spring. He was the featured speaker at Monday's Fishing Information Night, an annual event that attracted nearly 75 people.

Fisheries biologists from northwest Kansas lakes were on hand to detail the outlook for the upcoming fishing season.

Webster and Kirwin -- filled to the brim with water that continues to flow into the lakes -- are showing promise because of the flooded vegetation now under water and the ready supply of food for fish that anglers like to pursue.

Among them will be crappie, rated as good at Kirwin and fair to good at Webster.

"You can catch crappie on almost anything," Miller said, "if you can fish with it."

And there should be plenty of anglers in pursuit of the fish.

"Crappie are probably the most sought after fish in the state of Kansas as far as what I think," Miller said.

While Miller favors three colors when he fishes for crappie -- silver, chartreuse and white -- he said the important thing is that anglers pick a color they have confidence in.

And above all else, he said, pay attention to the depth you're fishing at.

"Those fish are going to be in a 1-foot zone," he said. "The thing that upsets me the most is when that guy in the boat catches the first fish and he doesn't' know how deep it was."

Keeping track of the depth will lead anglers to other fish.

Boat control is also necessary, he said, because it will keep anglers in that crappie-catching zone.

"Keep that line as straight up and down as possible," he added.

Miller said he uses 6-pound test line in the summer, switching over to 4-pound line in the winter.

After the fish spawn, he said, they move out into the middle of the lake and suspend.

"And you can catch them," he said, by either trolling or drifting in the area.

Once again, he said, it's important to find that zone to know where they are.