According to a recent study, panfish were the second most sought after freshwater species by U.S. anglers – with over 39% of total fishing trips dedicated to panfish. That’s a whole lot of effort, and there are several reasons why summer panfish dominate so much of the angling effort.
For one, they’re extremely abundant, and found coast to coast – making them accessible to all anglers.
For two, they are willing biters and excellent table fare – which combines perfectly for those of us looking to turn our efforts into a meal.
The one period of the year, though, where panfishing can get tough is the midsummer period – when warm water temps make just about every fish species a little tougher to catch.
Here are 3 tips for catching more panfish when it’s hot:
1. Cover Water
Just like gamefish, summer panfish will often cluster up in the hot water period, making it a bit more difficult to locate schools of active fish. Combat this by hopping quickly from spot to spot if you’re not getting bit. Warm water equals high metabolism, and the fish have to feed – so if your area isn’t producing, pack it up and try somewhere else.
2. Go Deep
Although many panfish stay shallow all year, the groups of bigger fish will often head deeper to escape the hot waters up shallow. In bigger northern lakes, it’s not uncommon to see vast schools of giant bluegills and crappies suspend in 20 to 30 feet of water near a shallower feeding area. These fish are tougher to find, but when you do they usually jump all over your presentations.
3. Use Your Electronics
To help find deeper schools of panfish, become an expert at reading your electronics. They’ll show up as a big cloudy mass somewhere in the water column, so cruise around and pay attention to the depths that you’re marking the schools. Once you’ve got that pinpointed, drift with slip bobbers set to that depth, or if the school is large enough, hold yourself over them with a trolling motor and fish vertically with a small jig or live bait presentation.
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