Overlooked Spring Panfish Hotspots:
Spring is a great time to get your fish on—as schools of hungry crappies and sunfish swarm into shallow water to feed. Unfortunately, fish-hungry anglers also flock to popular fishing areas, creating “combat” conditions that fray your nerves and spook skittish slabs.
If you want to avoid the mob scene this spring, find overlooked hotspots by following the advice of veteran panfish hunter and Team Northland Pro Chip Leer of Fishing The WildSide.
“You don’t have to hike deep into the backcountry or drive cross-country to find overlooked pockets of panfish, because they can be found in just about any lake,” says Leer.
“To find them, look for areas similar to community spots that hold fish,” he continues. “Key considerations include shape, structure, cover, water depth, water temperature and bottom content. For example, if one dark-bottomed, narrow canal with 55-degree water temps in the afternoon and easy access to deep water holds panfish, it’s a safe bet that a similar waterway a mile down the lake will produce fish, too.”
Leer notes that electronic aids like sonar, GPS chartplotters and mobile mapping can help you identify fish-holding areas. “However, since this is largely a shallow-water game, your eyes and a good pair of polarized sunglasses can be the best tools to help locate spring panfish,” he adds.
When Leer pinpoints a potential panfish nirvana, he tests the waters by visually scanning for fish while cruising the area with his trolling motor. “Watch for telltale swirls and fish darting away from the boat,” he says. “In water too deep or dark for visual recon, fish a search presentation like Northland Fishing Tackle’s Mimic Minnow Spin. Bobber and dropshot rigs work well, too, especially for slowing down once fish are found.”