During those frigid cold weather stretches throughout the winter, sitting on panfish and waiting for them to come to you can often be one of the most effective methods.
One way to increase the number of panfish you bring topside is by setting a dead stick next to you.
With the addition of an extra line down there increasing your chances it also helps keep the school around longer. Panfish are very inquisitive and a live flickering minnow will often draw them in.
These do a great job of calling in the fish and targeting the largest fish in the school.
Now I also try to use these spoons in Glo colors because I am a firm believer that it helps attract in the panfish, especially at night. I will often tip the spoons with a small crappie minnow head or a few wax worms.
The third bait I will have tied up is a small tungsten jig with a plastic. I prefer to use plastics because of the really delicate and finesse action you can get with them.
Some of my top go to plastics would be the VMC Waxtail Jig or the Northland Impulse Bloodworm. Both of these plastics have a ton of action and can really help trigger lethargic crappies or bluegills into biting.
Now generally I will always start with the Jigging Rap, but you can’t be afraid to switch depending on the mood of the fish. Ultizing a deadstick and these baits will help you catch more panfish.
In this article, we join two experienced anglers, Mike and Phil, as they set up their wheelhouse on a flat adjacent to a deep water basin. They are targeting crappies and sunnies for the evening bite. While panfish are known for their constant movement, sometimes it’s beneficial to sit on a group of fish and fish them. Mike and Phil have had a successful day of fishing and are hoping to continue their luck into the evening.
Setting Up for Success
The wheelhouse is positioned in an area that is 23-24 feet deep, where there is a lot of fish activity. Mike explains that panfish in flats and basins tend to move around a lot, so sitting on a spot like this can yield good results. However, to increase their chances of success, they also have a couple of minnow lines down. These extra lines can keep the fish in the area longer and attract higher riding crappies.
Mike sets up a dead stick rod on which he puts a crappie minnow. He explains that a dead stick rod is a rod without a cork, with a soft tip that serves as an indicator for the bite. He lowers the rod to the bottom, lifts it up a few feet, and lets it ride like that. When a crappie grabs the minnow, the tip of the rod will bend, signaling a bite. This setup allows for an easy hookset and a smooth fight with the fish.
Meanwhile, Phil has a rattle reel set up. He explains that a rattle reel is a common feature in fish houses, and it can be customized for different types of fishing. In this case, Phil has exchanged the heavier leader for a six-pound fluorocarbon leader with a small hook and a small split shot. This setup is ideal for crappie fishing. While Phil focuses on jigging, he also has a crappie minnow line set up on the rattle reel to increase their chances of catching fish.
Experimenting with Baits
Mike and Phil like to try different baits to see what the fish will respond to. Phil starts with a little spoon, usually glow-in-the-dark, and tips it with a waxy or a couple of euros when targeting bluegills. He also uses a puppet minnow or any darting type lure, which he tips with a wax worm or a gyro. Lastly, he uses a tungsten drop jig with a plastic bait, starting with pink. If the fish become more negative or if there are more bluegills, he switches to a wax worm or a gyro.
Mike, on the other hand, rigs up a couple of rods with smaller baits. He uses a vertical bait, such as a fire eye minnow, with a big wax worm. He also uses a horizontal bait, a tungsten drop jig from Clam, with a couple of maggots. By keeping a variety of options open, they can try different presentations and see what the fish prefer. Sometimes, fish will only bite if something different is presented to them, so it’s important to experiment with different baits and techniques.
Using Longer Panfish Rods
Both Mike and Phil are using longer rods for panfish fishing. Panfish rods have been trending towards longer lengths, and in this case, they are using 32-inch tuned up custom rods. These rods have a soft tip with a fluorescent tip and a stiffer backbone, which provides more leverage when fighting bigger fish. The longer length also allows them to get their tip down in the hole farther for fishing. These rods are ideal for both shallow and deep water fishing and give them an advantage when battling larger fish.
Catching Quality Crappies
Mike and Phil have had success catching quality crappies throughout the day. Mike hooks into a nice crappie using a smaller jig with an extra-large hook. The larger hook is important for catching crappies, as they have a big mouth and can sometimes suck in a bait without getting hooked. Phil also catches a decent-sized crappie using a puppet minnow. They both appreciate the quality of the fish they are catching and decide to keep a couple for a meal.
Adjusting to the Fish’s Preferences
Throughout the day, Mike and Phil have been adjusting their tactics based on what the fish are responding to. They have tried different baits, presentations, and techniques to see what works best. They have learned that fish can be fickle and finicky, and it’s important to be ready to adjust to their preferences. It’s not about what they want to catch the fish on, but rather what the fish want to bite. By being adaptable and open to trying different approaches, they have been able to have a successful day of fishing.