Clare County Review & Marion Press Columns

Outdoor Experiences: Three ways to summer panfish

8 year old caleb with double of bluegill

I got one yelled eight year old Caleb. Indeed he did, another double of bluegill ended up in the livewell. For the second week in roll young Caleb was putting a hurt on the bluegills and showing us adults up.
During the summer three methods work the best for us anglers when chasing panfish. Crappie, bluegill or perch, we have a few things that we do each and every summer outing.
First is finding fish. Today, June 18 we found the fish in less than three minutes. The fish will be in two locations. They will either be alongside the deep weeds or staying cool in the deeper water.
Ninety percent of the time we focus on the deep water. Take a look at your lake map and search out the deepest water. The perch will be near the bottom but the crappie and gills will be suspended at or just above the thermocline. On most lakes you will find the thermocline in depths between 16 and 20 feet.
If you have side scan on your graph cruise slowly at a speed between 3 and 5 mph. Schools of panfish will show up as a cluster of white specks. We drag a way point over the cluster and continue our search. It only takes a few minutes to search out at 400 square yard area of the lake.
Once a school or two of fish are located one of three methods are used. I am not sure which method is my favorite. Slip bobbers, slow trolling or fishing vertical and drifting with the wind.
The past two weeks we spent considerable amount of time slowly drifting much like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. Trolling is on tap for our next outing.
We will start with the drifting technique. Any graph that is tuned properly will show the thermocline but you can trust me on the depths stated earlier. When drifting or slow trolling at a speed of .3 or .4 mph anglers need to use enough weight to stay vertical.
Here is a tip to share. Unless the winds are really brisk skip the sinker and instead use a Hali or Sitka Smelt Stick. We tie on two hooks using a loop knot or my favorite, the fast snaps or quick change clevis with the loop knot.
Another tip or two to share with you. First, add a glow bead, we use the soft glow beads or soft glow eggs. Place this glow bead above your hook. If I drift I will have on at least one hot leg rubber spider tipped with a wax worm or a spike.
Other lures that we use would include glow in the dark teardrops such as the Moon Glows, Small Gnats and or flashy flies. Once again tip them with some type of meat. One of my fishing buddies tips one rod with a small piece of red worms and wax worms on the other rod.
You can use a total of six hooks between three rods. We tie on two of the mentioned baits and then either a Hali Jig or the Sitka Smelt Stick. That makes a total of three on each rod.
Perch Pounder rigs work great on the panfish. The Perch Pounder Rig with a size 8 hook is way better than a size six when targeting gills. Perch Pounder rigs have a glow bead in front of the fish skin flies. Tip them with a wax worm, piece of a red worm or a spike. If perch or crappies are your target then consider adding a minnow.
Sleeper bait would be cut up scented shrimp. A cheap bag of raw shrimp will last a long time when chasing the panfish. Cut the shrimp to mimic the live bait. An example would be a small sliver to mimic a wax worm and a longer wider piece to mimic a minnow. Soak the pieces in anise oil.
Part two will cover the other two techniques that we use while fishing the same areas and locating the fish in the same manner. Remember to visit the folks at Bobs Gun and Tackle Shop.

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