Summer is almost here, which means many anglers will pack away their panfish gear and look for different fishing opportunities. While panfish do become more difficult to locate during the summer months, once you find them they usually do not hesitate to bite. Here are some tips to help you fill your basket with panfish this summer:
Find deep structure. It is no secret that panfish like structure, even more than other gamefish. Whether you’re fishing from a boat or from shore, this is crucial for finding panfish during hot, summer days. Look for points or trees sticking out. If you are fishing from shore, find shaded areas or look for piers that will hold fish against them. Before heading out to find deep water spots, do your homework.
Drop shot. This technique has been a staple for bass fishing over the last decade, but is also extremely productive for panfish. Typically, I will use a jig like VMC’s Tungsten Nymph Jigs as my weight as opposed to something heavier. Adding a single hook a few feet above this with a minnow or plastic works great as well. This will give you more opportunities to catch suspended fish or multiple fish at once.
When all else fails, drift. Drift fishing is an excellent way to cover water and find the fish. Once you locate the fish, you can drop the trolling motor and stay on them. Bags like Amish Outfitters Drift Bag will help slow your drift to present baits to the fish more naturally, giving them time to bite. Typically, minnows on a jig or a Trigger X Curl Tail Minnow work great for this application. Spreading rods out and covering different depths will help produce more fish. The Driftmaster Spider Rigging Round T-Bar System is the ultimate rod holder system to use while drift fishing for panfish. This rod holder will allow you to use several rods and cover all of your bases.
Panfish chop. Anglers who walleye fish know about a “walleye chop,” but during the summer, look for a small chop for targeting panfish. A light chop will help cool the water down, even one or two degrees, and will sometimes trigger the fish to bite. A light chop will also help give more action to your baits when drift fishing.
Pull out the ice jigs. While panfish do continue to feed during the summer, they usually look for smaller meals. Using small ice jigs will help produce higher numbers around less aggressive fish.
Fish at night. It is no secret that crappie fishing can be phenomenal during the moonlight hours, so you should keep in mind that this is the prime time to target them during the summer months. At night, crappie move in around lily pads and shallow weed edges to feed on minnows and insects. Using a submersible light, like Berkley’s Submersible LED Fishing Light, helps attract baitfish to you which, in turn, helps attract more crappie. Make it a plan to try night fishing for crappie this summer.