By Dan Johnson

Walleye fishing may have taken center stage for many anglers around much of the Midwest, but panfish options abound as well. In fact, right now is a great time to get out and chase crappies, bluegills and perch on a fishery near you.

In southern Wisconsin, for example, Lindy pro-staffer and veteran guide Dave Duwe reports excellent bluegill action in 13 feet of water around deep weeds in Lake Delavan, and says sunfish averaging 9 inches remain active in 8 to 10 feet of water on nearby Lake Geneva, too.

Duwe’s top sunfish rigs include an angleworm suspended below a small Thill Pro Series Slip Float or Crappie Cork.

jon“Keep the bait off bottom or above the tops of emerging weeds,” he said.

On the crappie front, many of the fish are making their way toward summer haunts in deep water. When they stack up, they’re easy to spot on sonar. But on many lakes, the fish take their time on this migration, and some crappies never leave food-rich areas near shore.

Lindy’s Jon Thelen offers great tactical advice for tapping this bite on his latest online edition of Fish Ed. While Jon is best known for his walleye pursuits, he’s also a lifelong panfish fan. Earlier this month, he ran into postspawn slabs hanging out along the first break outside of the spawning grounds, and captured the action for us to enjoy—and put into practice ourselves.

The good news about Jon’s first-break pattern is it produces fish all summer. Often, you can locate a great mix of crappies and bluegills in near-shore feeding areas throughout July, August and into September.

It’s worth noting that even lakes with strong offshore crappie bites in the summer often have a shallower bite going on simultaneously, so it’s always worth checking out, no matter what the calendar says.

To see Jon’s tactics for yourself, click here.