Bluegills and other panfish flood fast-warming shallows to feed in the spring, offering winter-weary anglers a great chance to enjoy some of the year’s fastest fishing. Here’s how to get in on the action.
Weather can be key to timing the best bites. Sunny spring days with balmy air temperatures draw waves of hungry bluegills, pumpkinseeds, crappies and other panfish into fast-warming shallows to strap on the feedbag.
Lindy pro Paul Fournier recommends targeting bays rich in soft, mucky substrates, particularly when seeking sunfish. “Crappies are roamers and can show up anywhere, even on sand and rubble shorelines, but ’gills and other sunfish like to root around in the mud,” he explains.
“Big bluegills can be extremely skittish, especially in hard-fished systems, so stealth and silence are key,” he adds.
To avoid spooking his quarry, Fournier makes long casts and favors light jigs suspended under small bobbers. His outfit includes a 9½-foot steelhead-style rod spooled with 4- to 6-pound monofilament mainline and three-foot leader of 2-pound fluorocarbon. Top jigs include Lindy Little Nippers, Watsit Jigs and small ice lures such as Lindy Bugs.
For suspension, Fournier recommends a Thill Wobble Bobber. “The extra-dense construction fuels long casts, while the pear-shaped design imparts a rocking action to the jigs,” he says.
Be forewarned, cool nights and punishing cold fronts often force panfish back into deeper water. If the bays are a bust, look for slabs on the closest primary drop-off leading into deeper water. Soft-bottom flats near these breaks can be good, too.
In deep water, try a 1/16-ounce Lindy Watsit or ice-fishing jig like a Lindy Toad or Ice Worm, tipped with a waxworm or bit of nightcrawler. To tempt deep-water panfish with these offerings, follow the lead of Lindy pro Jeff Sundin and hold the jig as still as possible, either while tightlining or with the jig suspended below a bobber.