Fishing tips: Move outside the weedlines to catch more summer bluegills and crappies

Nice bluegill caught and released just outside the weed edge. Photo by Jason Revermann

When panfish inhabit the shallows during the late-spring spawn, they can be an easy angling target. Now, in mid-summer when water temperatures have climbed, crappies and sunfish move to deeper water into the weeds and outside weed lines making them a little trickier to catch.

We can always find some fish in the shallows, but the best fishing this time of year occurs in deeper depths.

Look for mid-summer panfish lurking on the outside of weed lines in depths from 10 to 20 feet of water or more. These fish often suspend in schools usually a couple feet off the bottom to about 5 feet below the surface. In the evening these fish often rise towards the surface and feed on bugs that have hit the water.

School of bluegills just outside the weed edge with crappies scattered beyond them. Photo by Jason Revermann

Use your sonar units to locate the weed lines, then troll up and down the outside weed edge searching for schools of fish. Bluegills usually congregate tighter together, and crappies will scatter along the weed edge.

Now that you have found fish, how do you catch them? Use small jigs with worms, leeches, or plastics. I like to target these fish using a vertical approach in deeper water, and I avoid bobbers. Bluegills often strike quick and are great at stealing your bait. By fishing vertical on a tight line, you’ll detect the light bites.

If you have your sonar set up properly, try vertical jigging them under the transducer almost like you’re ice fishing. You can see the fish in the water column and how they respond to your bait. For repeat success when fishing with multiple people in the boat, set a bobber stop on the line to make it easier to drop your offering to the correct depth.

Consider dropping an anchor upwind and drifting back over the fish or just using your trolling motor to hover over your desired area.

Crappies are more likely to hit a moving lure. Troll or employ a cast-and-retrieve approach using small jigs with tubes or tails to entice suspended crappies. Using a small spinner can also work very well.

Make some time to get out there and fish! Stay safe and good luck fishing!

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