By: Tyler Brick
Panfish during the summer out of a kayak seems like an easy feat to some, but for others, the challenge of exploring different water and trying new techniques is very intriguing. A kayak is a very versatile tool for finding panfish because you can squeeze them into any nook and cranny on just about any lake. Floating into the shallow bays in the early summer can be deadly. Up north, most bluegills are spawning in the shallows by June or gradually pushing out more profound to the weed lines. Paddling around shallow bays with thick cover adjacent to a steeper break will be very productive this time of year. Fish spread out all over, and being in a kayak gives you access to every one of them!
Where To Find Summer Panfish From The Kayak
Look for the deepest growing weeds in the lake and fish along the line from grass to open water. Slab crappie, jumbo perch, and big bluegills use the aquatic grasses to shelter, feed, and absorb that precious oxygen not easily found in a hot lake. You can anchor up your kayak and pick apart each juicy-looking spot, one at a time. Or you can use the wind and make long drifts over high potential areas. Both applications have their effectiveness, and a good way to start is by drifting or slowly paddling around while searching out panfish and then anchoring up in the hotspots once you’ve detected active fish. This method will help you break down the panfish bite quickly from the kayak throughout the summer.
If you’re fishing a river, look for backwater sloughs, dams, eddies, and deep sloping banks. Anchoring up near logjams or deep holes will allow you to fish the best spots thoroughly without being swept away by the moving current. It might be easier to slide your kayak up on the bank and fish from the shore in certain spots.
Best Baits And Rigs For Summer Panfish
Suspending live bait like minnows, crickets, or worms under a bobber is likely the most popular and usually the most effective way to target panfish in the summer but don’t be afraid to change things up. Small plastic grubs rigged on a jig head, in-line spinners reeled slowly along the bank, or drop shot rigging with micro-soft plastics are all viable options.
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