Why Winter Panfish?
Over the years, I have had many people ask me why I prefer to chase panfish during the hard water season. This is never an easy answer for me as there are many reasons for my winter panfish addiction.
I suppose it starts with something as basic as a daily routine. I don’t like to get up early when it is cold and dark and venture out onto the frozen tundra in hopes of snagging a walleye or two before sunup. Nor do I like staying out until after dark, getting home late, and then cleaning fish.
Without a doubt, I like being at home in the winter evenings. I appreciate a good glass of wine while gazing into the memorizing flicker of a fire. I enjoy a quite conversation with my wife or watching some news on television.
I have also found that I have little trouble locating and catching fish during the daylight hours of winter. Because of the successful routine I have developed, Getting up early or staying out late is not usually necessary.
There is no doubt that the low light hours of the day are the premier moments for catching winter crappies and bluegills. However, on many lakes they can be caught during the day, also.
The first key is to realize you are dealing with neutral minded fish. They are not going to aggressively hammer everything you throw at them like they often do at sunset. They need to be coaxed into biting most of the time.
I do this by using a combination of plastic tails, Euro larvae, small tungsten jigs, and very light, two-pound-test Berkley Micro Ice line. I utilize both tightline jigging and spring bobbers for my presentation. Spring bobbers are very effective when fish are super finicky.
Locations are extremely important when fishing during the day. Not every lake has fish that will cooperate on a midday bite so picking the right spot is essential.
The problem with this is it takes time to find these midday hotspots. However, once a honey hole is located, it is a place I return to time and again.
Many of my midday locations are associated with lakes that have a deep basin, dingy water and little weed growth. This scenario brings the fish into deep water for most of the winter.
Midday fish are real roamers. Some days, I will look for and chase suspended fish for hours as they move throughout a basin.
When I do catch up with them, I rarely get more than a few fish from a single hole before I am off and searching again. I am constantly moving to where the fish are and never wait for the fish to come to me.
On some lakes, all of the suspended fish are crappies. At other times, crappies and gills will be mixed. Occasionally, I find the sunfish are close to the bottom and the crappies are suspended higher. You may have to move shallower to target just bluegills.
Last of all, I find winter panfish to be about the best table fare a person could ever ask for. I never get tired of frying or eating golden brown panfish fillets.
Chasing winter panfish is one of my favorite pastimes. With an extended season and multiple location opportunities, it seems there is always a place to go for some midday entertainment.