Try These Tips For Panfish
By Chip LeerTips for panfish in the grass. It’s no secret that panfish gravitate to aquatic vegetation in the summertime along with bass, walleyes and pike. Unless you’re armed with the right lures and tactics, however, fishing the weeds can be a frustrating affair. Here are five timely tips for panfish to help you avoid the hassle and catch more panfish on every trip.
Choose The Right Jig
Here are a few tips for panfish success.Jigs are wonderful weapons for plucking fish from the greenery, but not all jigs fish weeds equally well. Look for jig heads designed for jungle duty and check out these tips for panfish in the grass. Northland Fishing Tackle’s Weed-Weasel is a prime example. The tapered wedge head, eye positioned at the nose of the jig, and Y-shaped plastic weedguard help it slide through grass without snagging. Weed-Weasels work wonders on the cast or when vertically jigged below the boat. Tip with an IMPULSE plastic or securely skull-hooked minnow.
Fish A Weedless Bouncer
Bottom bouncers excel for taking spinner rigs, crankbaits and other lures down to the strike zone. Bouncers with an “R-bend” design, like Northland’s Rock-Runner, are my pick for the weeds. They glide over moss and weedy bottoms on the drift and troll. Plus, they prevent grass that catches the mainline from sliding all the way down to the lure.
Assess The Bed
Searching for fish in a sizable weedbed can feel like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, unless you attack the bed with a plan. First off, avoid unbroken tangles in the middle of the bed. Instead, focus on ambush points along the deep and shallow edges, where predators prefer to waylay prey. The edges of open pockets within the bed can also be hot zones.
Control Your Fall
When fishing panfish with float rigs, choose jigs with a slow fall and natural gliding action—like Northland’s IMPULSE Helium Waxyfly, Mayfly and Stonefly. Slow fallers tempt super-sized sunfish and crappies into taking the bait better than jigs that drop like a rock. In deep water, pinch a split-shot a foot or two up the line to bring the lure down to the desired depth range, then twitch the bobber to let the jig work its magic.
Swim Like A Pro
Swim jigs aren’t just for casting and winding. With the right setup, you can swim a jig and soft-plastic trailer around below a bobber. One of my favorite summer combos is an IMPULSE Water Bug threaded onto a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce horizontal-hanging Northland RZ Jig. When you pop the rod tip, the bait grabs water, glides forward and swims around under the float.
Tips for Panfish: Where To Fish First Ice
WHERE TO LOOK
Early winter offers savvy ice anglers some of the hardwater season’s best panfish fishing, for a variety of reasons. First, hungry panfish prowl predictable places that are often overlooked by other anglers. Plus, fish are active for longer periods of time. They are more willing to chase baits, and eagerly swim farther to get a meal than any other time during winter. These tips for panfish during early ice will help you catch some of those active first ice fish.
Since panfish are on the bite, finding the fish is half the battle to sliding them onto the ice. A variety of structure and cover may attract fish, but healthy green weedbeds can be panfish magnets, especially for broad-shouldered bluegills and other sunfish.
Productive depths range from as shallow as three feet down to the deep weed edge, which may lie in 10 to 15 feet of water. Keep in mind that all areas of the bed are not created equal when it comes to attracting fish. Use sonar and an underwater camera to find sweet spots such as points, open pockets, holes and travel corridors within the bed.
TACKLE TO USE
Active panfish hit a variety of presentations. Northland Fishing Tackle’s 3/32-ounce Forage Minnow Spoon (https://shop.northlandtackle.com/spoons-and-swimming-lures/forage-minnow-spoon/) is a great choice right now, loaded up with a piece of plastic, waxworms or eurolarvae. Horizontal jigs like the Bro Bug (https://shop.northlandtackle.com/jigs/bro-bug-jig/) and pint-sized heavyweights like the tungsten Mitee Mouse (https://shop.northlandtackle.com/seasonal-tackle/ice-fishing/mitee-mouse-jig/) are top picks, too. To cover your bases, pack a manageable variety of your favorite panfish lures and tippings and see what the fish prefer.
The downside of the first-ice blitz is the fish can be more vulnerable to the effects of cold fronts and other adverse environmental conditions—so time your trips to coincide with stable or otherwise favorable weather.
Based in Walker, Minnesota, noted fishing authority and outdoor communicator Chip Leer operates Fishing the WildSide, an outdoor sports marketing and communications company. For more information look to www.fishingthewildside.net