A Simple Way to Find Panfish on a New Lake

Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith

December 28, 2016

So what do you do when you hear about a hot panfish bite on a lake you’ve never fished before. It can be a daunting task if you need to break down a lake without any prior experience on it. Whether you’re chasing crappies or big sunfish, there are a few things you can do to consistently find fish even if you’ve never fished the lake before. The two key areas to start searching are the basins and the weed lines. It’s as simple as that.

In the video above, Jeremy Smith and Mike Hehner share how they go about breaking down new water in search of wintertime panfish. They share a simple recipe for finding fish in that basins, as well as finding fish up in the shallow vegetation.

Basin Panfish

Hunting for Basin Panfish

When looking for panfish in the basin, you’re going to rely on two tools: GPS mapping, along with sonar technology. The basin areas that you’re exploring will typically be somewhere around 20-45 feet deep. Once you’ve isolated a basin within that depth range you want to investigate, pull out the auger and start trilling holes all throughout the area. GPS mapping technology will help you find and cover the basins very quickly. After you’ve Swiss cheesed the basin, use your sonar to check hole-to-hole-to-hole until you mark fish on your screen. If you don’t see fish, don’t wet your line — it’s as simple as that.


Searching the Weed Line

If they aren’t in the basin, they are probably up on the weed line. The one-two punch for panfish up in the vegetation is GPS mapping technology, as well as an underwater camera. If you’re using a Humminbird Helix unit, use the depth highlight feature to easily illustrate where the weed line is on the lake, and then drive to the area, cut a bunch of holes, and start peaking your underwater camera down below the ice. If you can spot fish swimming around on the screen, you’re in a good area. Don’t fish a hole unless you’re seeing fish. It sounds simple, but they’re either there, or they’re not!

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