I absolutely love fishing for bream and crappie on the weekends. Every week I try to go at least once when I’m off work. Sometimes a busy work schedule can prevent me from going as often as I would like, so catching a good amount on every trip is a must! Here are some quick tips I put together to help you catch more fish for the frying pan!
- Try an assortment of live and artificial baits. Most of you will read this tip and think “that’s obvious” , but are you bringing the correct assortment? Good live baits for panfish are crickets and worms, do you grab both when you go to your local bait store? With artificial baits are you just grabbing an assortment of colors of your favorite lure? I recommend bringing beetle spins of a light and a dark color, a top-water bait of a light and dark color and a few different tiny jigs. This may seem like a lot but for artificial baits once you purchase them they will remain in your tackle box until you either lose them or wear them out. So make a trip to Walmart and pick some out and then you will be set. Just this assortment will allow you to fish at whatever depth the fish are feeding at( beetle spins run deep and a tiny floating stick bait stays on top of the water). Or if you aren’t getting many bites on artificial baits you can vary your bobber height from your live bait to produce different results. To sum this tip up don’t over-fish one bait presentation. If after 5-10 minutes you haven’t caught any fish or very few fish switch up the color of your current lure. If that still doesn’t work, switch to a different lure that fishes a different depth and continue this until you find one that works the best on that day.
2. Bring an assortment of rods along. By bringing different length rods such as a 4 ft micro zebco, a 6 ft spinning rod, a fly rod and a 10 ft bream buster, you will be able to fish in whatever conditions are presented to you. Just last weekend I took my wife fishing and we found a great spot on the Sawanne River where the blue gill were feeding really well. The problem was we had to bring the boat under an old Oak tree that had a series of vines hanging down to the water. This made it very difficult to cast a full-size rod so we broke out the micro rods and kept right on fishing. This leads me into the next tip.
3. Don’t underestimate the usefulness of a 10 ft bream buster rod. Most serious fisherman keep some sort of cane pole handy. A long pole that you don’t have to cast can be used to reach over obstacles such as thick cat tails or deep under a dock. The best places to fish are hard to reach and by bringing along a retractable pole such asthis one found on amazon you won’t take up much boat space and you will give yourself more opportunities to reach those hard to cast spots.
5. Don’t try to fish a place the same way every time. My favorite place to fish this year has been Orange Lake in Hawthorne Florida. Every time I go I have to see how the fish are feeding and what they prefer. Don’t find a great spot and assume that because you caught a bucket full of Bluegill last time on a green beetle spin that you will have the same result again. If it was a great spot before it can be great every time as long as you find the bait they like THAT DAY, depending on water temperate, PH level, how clear the water is and what time of day it is. You can familiarize yourself with a spot over time but by trying different presentations in different conditions I always find that I am continually surprised by how much the same species of fish feed differently throughout the year.
6. Use your trolling motor and outboard as little as possible. This may seem simple but running your troller on high will scare fish away! If you’ve ever fished a clear lake you can see this effect. Remember that everyone else is trolling fast and casting hard so if you use the current or wind to move you along the fish will be more likely fooled into thinking your bait is their next meal. Try to disturb the water as little as possible if you want to land a boat load of fish.
7. Use the smallest size tackle possible. This especially goes for bobbers. The only bobber I use with live bait are the small styrofoam bobbers that barely disturb the water when cast. If you toss a small cricket out attached to a round plastic bobber not only will the impact of your cast scare the fish away but bigger bobbers are less sensitive. Most of my bites occur within 3 seconds of my bait touching the water. This is because the soft landing of tiny tackle looks more realistic when it impacts the water. Using small baits is critical when going for panfish. Use the smallest bait you can cast, see tips 2 and 3 and remember that a micro rod can cast a tiny rapala 40-50 feet.
8. Don’t be afraid of a fly rod. Using a fly rod out of a boat is my favorite way to catch big Bluegill. Most people don’t give a fly rod a chance because they’ve never tried it. The biggest advantage of a fly rod is the speed in which you can cast the rod and hit the same spot before you get pushed away by the wind or current. I love hitting a spot with a fly rod and not getting anything and then casting back 3-4 times and finally getting a fish on the final cast because if i had to reel in my line and re-cast I know I wouldn’t have been able to quickly enough. A fly rod will catch more panfish out of a boat even if you aren’t great at casting it at first because you have a greater number of casts which just increases your odds of hitting that perfect spot. Buy a cheap started fly rod like THIS ONE off Amazon and give it a try. I guarantee it will be the best investment you’ve ever made towards catching more panfish.
I hope this helps you catch more panfish from your boat. If you try a fly rod for the first time and catch more than you usually do, let me know in the comments below. I love converting new fly fishers over and I love hearing about it! Get out there!