Whether targeted for fun or for the table, panfish please most anglers– especially lunker crappies and hand-sized bull bluegills. Fall is a great time to catch them, but with variables like changing vegetation, cooling weather, turnover, and fall bait migrations, how do you crack the code for consistent success?
We asked four of the nation’s top panfish specialists five questions about fall crappie and bluegill fishing. Their answers will help anyone become a more successful fall panfish angler.
The swimbait is a lure type that has gone from trophy hunting bass anglers to something used for many different species, including walleye. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be fished all year long, making them some of the most versatile lures used today.
Everyone is throwing bladed jigs these days so sometimes you need to give the fish a different look and sound.
The downsized Chatterbait MiniMax has a downscaled hex-blade and other componentry, but it has the punch to handle big, tough smallmouth, spotted and largemouth bass.
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By Louie Stout
River smallmouth are home bodies.
That is a bit contradictory given the common belief that smallmouth bass are nomadic. That may be the case in lakes, but not necessarily in the St. Joseph River.
At least that’s what Dar Deegan, aquatic biologist for Elkhart and St. Joseph counties, has been discovering in his analysis of an ongoing tagging study his office has conducted since 1998.
Deegan spends his time monitoring water quality and the health of fish life in St. Joe and its tributaries. While conducting on-the-water research, he collects some gamefish with electro-shocking methods and records growth data and their overall health condition.
River researchers have placed tiny tags in the backs of smallmouth, walleyes and a few largemouth that measure 12 inches or bigger before the fish are released.
The tags have small print that alerts anglers to contact him when they catch the tagged fish. Each fish carries an identification number. The Michiana Walleye Association has helped finance the project through a donation.
Over the years, Deegan has tagged 4,000 smallmouth, 900 walleyes and 100 largemouth.
By Louie Stout
Lake contour maps have long been one of the most valuable tools fishermen can use to find potentially productive areas.
Those topographic maps will show you instantly where the big flats lie, where the lake bottom plunges into the abyss, and fish holding structures like underwater points and submerged islands.
Game fish use bottom contours as highways to and from feeding or comfort areas. Often times they will school on an irregular feature, such as a point, an inside turn of a drop-off, or on offshore humps. If you have knowledge of the seasonal patterns of each fish species, map study can lead you to those most productive areas.