By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

ANTELOPE LAKE -- For years, Don Deines faithfully made his way to the Law Enforcement Center in Hays where he served as captain of the Hays Police Department.

He's up and on the road earlier these days, especially when it's time to head up to what has been called one of the crown jewels of northwest Kansas -- Antelope Lake.

It didn't hurt any that the crappie just happened to be biting.

Deines and his son, Tim, were on the water early on this particular day, chasing after the crappie, about 30 of which were already in buckets ready for cleaning.

"Seems like when the wind kicked up, they quit," said Tim Deines, fishing from the rock-strewn banks of Antelope Lake.

It's wasn't the first time they've been up to the lake this year.

And they brought along a couple dozen minnows for the fishing.

"But we went through two dozen so we had to quit that," he said.

Well, they quit using minnows and went to lead-head jigs under bobbers, still catching a few crappie and a saugeye -- returning it because it was below the legal length limit.

The crappie, said Don Deines, started biting about three weeks ago in April.

"They're still biting some," he said.

No matter, Deines would be out on the water if given the chance.

"I just like to get out," he said of his fishing expeditions. "Every chance I get. Sometimes two times a week, sometimes three, like now when they're biting."

Although on this day he brought his son, he frequently is joined by friends and relatives.

"Saturday, I had to bring my grandson," he said. "Then I went to Webster, and check out Plainville (fishing lake). And I went yesterday."

In his off-time -- when he's not fishing -- he's doing a bit of pest control work.

"Hard to believe it's 12 years," he said of when he retired from the Hays Police Department.

Today, it's more about fishing than working.

"We already caught more than I thought we would," he said.