An Early Morning Panfish Adventure

Posted by MNAngler On March - 14 - 2011

Mark, Rob, and I decided to try Bluegill Bill‘s lake to see if we could catch some of the slab panfish that has been reported to be in that lake. In our three hours out there, we managed less than 10 fish total. I caught two crappie, Mark caught somewhere around 6, and Rob got none.

We tried everything. Euro larva, small minnows, large minnows, hooking through the mouth, hooking through the back, you name it, we pretty much tried it. It was a lot of work for the few fish we got. And not that big. Most of the time was slow, but there were two or three flurries of activity where we caught most of our fish.

I was amazed at how often and how quickly Mark switched techniques to try to get the fish to bite. He didn’t even really try his grand master technique from our last outing because he saw really early on that it wouldn’t work.

The ridiculous thing about the whole outing was that we got up at 6am the night of the daylight savings time changeover. While it was still dark. To go out in 15 degree weather. To catch panfish. And small panfish at that. I almost didn’t get up. I went over the little sleep/out in the cold/for panfish scenario and wondered what kind of crazy I had taken the night before to agree to do such a thing.

None of us had been on the lake before. When we got there, it was still dark and we were driving around just trying to figure out where to set up camp. The whole lake was pretty much 10 ft or less. We first parked about a 100 ft from a truck with a permanent shelter. The graph showed fish and we were hopeful with a guy so confident that his permanent shelter was not far from us.

After setting up, Mark went to get some coffee from the truck and saw a pile of people about a quarter mile away. We decided this permanent guy really didn’t know what he was doing, so we moved closer to the village. Within minutes, I got the first fish of the day and Mark got a couple as well. But things never really got going after that. We graphed a ton of fish, but none that were interested in anything we were offering.

The funny thing is, one time, Mark’s bobber bobbled a little and he missed the fish after his minnow. He reeled up and I went to check out his graph when Mark yelled that I had a fish on my spring bobber. I managed to grab my rod in time to pull up my second and last fish of the day. I guess Mark’s fish was after more food.

While the spring bobber was really handy when fishing with euro larva, it is quite a challenge with an active minnow. It would bounce continuously. Mark said that when there is a fish, it will go super crazy, then point down. What he didn’t say is that the pointing down part can happen in a split second. I missed a third crappie that way. It was a real challenge. I think I’ll stick with euro larva on the spring bobber from here on out. But it was really fun to watch it dance. Sometimes it would pause as if the minnow got tired. But I would twitch it and it would start bouncing again.

I think I’ve regained my sanity enough after this weekend that I will only go out on the ice after a good night’s sleep. Being that all fish seasons are closed except for panfish, I’m not finding the value of getting up early for these little guys. The next time I get up for fishing before the sun rises will be for bass or walleye.


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