Fishing After Ice Melts

Locate And Catch Ice Out Panfish

Locate And Catch Ice Out Panfish

Not all anglers tread on ice to catch panfish, but they don’t waste time beginning their pan fishing when the ice melts. Ice out is a term used to explain the time when all the ice has melted. This is the time early spring tactics come into play. There are a few more weeks of cold water and even though the air is warm it takes a while for the water temperature to rise enough to start the transition. This is the time when ice fishing techniques work well and can fill your cooler with tasty ice out panfish.


Locating ice out panfish can be difficult if you fish large bodies of water. They will move around as the spring weather fronts move through and the water temperature changes sporadically. If your only option is large bodies of water then your best bet is locating transition routes from deep water into spawning areas. Ice out panfish will usually be in deep water, but if you know their spawning grounds you can follow creek channels or just simple contour changes out to the nearest deep water. With a good fish finder you will see the fish stacked up in a certain area at a certain depth. They’ll move up as the water temp rises.They will follow those contours and channels making their way into position to spawn.

Another option for the panfish angler that can’t wait to get out there and search for a few ice out panfish is to seek small bodies of water. Small lakes or ponds offer the earliest action after the ice melts. If you have access to several of these smaller lakes you can eventually come up with a seasonal plan. The plan will be based on which body of water warms the quickest. This warming offers more active panfish. A boat is nice, but often not a necessity on these small lakes. Where the shoreline is swampy or the brush around the lake is thick try donning some waders to get to some great panfish cover and maybe take your fly rod, small flies are great at this time.


Panfish are so much fun to catch through the ice, but as soon as the ice is gone

panfish will leave their icy locations and head for new ones and while locations

might change the techniques used through the ice will continue to work.



Just because the ice has melted doesn’t mean the fish are active. In some cases the lack of an ice cap can actually cause a more fickle bite. Don’t put those tiny do nothing ice jigs away. They will continue to trigger bites from those moody cold-blooded panfish for another couple of weeks. A great way to present these tiny jigs is under a bobber. This works especially well if you are fishing from shore. If you are using fly fishing gear try a dropper off the back of a popper to keep the fly in the strike zone longer.

Artificial baits are always a good bet for panfish. However, when the water is cold and the fish are cruising, a live minnow or worm is hard to beat. Remember while brush and other cover are always a great place to start during the early season panfish are moving around a lot and will follow transitions from deep water to shallow. Locate creek channels and ditches leading into spawning areas and be patient as the fish come to you. Keep moving along these channels until you find the optimum location where the fish are biting.

Keep A Ice Fishing Journal To Track Panfish After The Ice Melts

I mentioned a seasonal plan above. If you want to extend your panfish season by targeting smaller lakes first, then moving to larger bodies of water as the temps rise for more active panfish, then a journal is essential.

Journaling has become easier than ever with technology and the perfect electronic journal is the Scoutlook Fishing App. The Scoutlook Fishing App is a powerful tool and right at your fingertips at all times. You can check the current conditions or look at the forecast to see what is heading your way. You can also check to see just where you are on the water with the map feature as well.

The Scoutlook Fishing App has a great journaling feature. It allows you to input your information along with a photo of your catch. The entry will automatically save the weather conditions at that moment. Now you have an entry right into your phone or tablet. You can pull the journal entries up on your computer as well. This allows you to compare notes from the season. Even one year to the next can make a difference but several season’s worth of your personal observations can help you narrow it down precisely.

I have tried to journal with pen and paper and even the waterproof journals and they were just too much trouble. A fishing journal app makes it easy and more importantly quick to enter my information and adds so much more than I would normally record making it a must for serious anglers.

Panfish On Ice

About Ken McBroom 307 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.