Spring Panfish Tips
May 18, 2018
Long before they push into the shallows to feast and spawn, early spring panfish linger along nearshore breaklines and associate with nearby cover, including deep weedlines and submerged wood. These fish can be targeted effectively with artificial baits, particularly compact soft plastics rigged on light jigs.
St. Croix Panfish Series rods, like the new 6’4”, light-power, fast action PFS64LF, are excellent choices for these cold water presentations. Spool up with thin diameter, 4-6 lb. test fluorocarbon or a comparable, smooth-casting braided line, and tie on a 1/16 or 1/32 oz. jig. The best jigs for this application have a thin wire “keeper” to ensure that the soft plastic bait remains pinned tight to the head of the jig. Tip the jig with a 1 to 1.5 inch soft plastic. High action baits like curly tail grubs work well when the water is warming, but cold front conditions call for finesse baits with more subtle action. Black, white, and red color patterns are highly effective in the spring.
Long casts and slow retrieves are the norm when targeting early season panfish. Resist the temptation to impact significant action to the bait with the rod tip; rather, focus on swimming the bait just above, or even in contact with, the weed or wood cover. The sensitivity of the St. Croix Panfish Series Rods effectively telegraphs even the lightest of bites, which could come during the steady retrieve or during a pause, as the bait flutters down into the cover.
This spring, leave the minnows and worms at the dock. Instead, rustle up a mess of early season panfish with light jigs, soft plastics, and St. Croix Panfish Series rods!