Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Improve fishing success by understanding predators and their prey

Blanking with bobbers and live bait is embarrassing. Worse is when it happens and you’re on the hook for keeping things exciting for a pair of 3-year olds. My goal was simply to put the girls on some perch, sunfish, and maybe crappies. I did not think it would be as difficult as it was. 

Our first stop was a bay filled with lily pads. It yielded a single perch and one sunfish. By the time I had snapped a few photos of the sunfish, the girls were ready to go in. To avoid another boatful of disappointed ladies, my wife and I decided a divide-and-conquer technique might work better.

So I took one daughter, Lila, out to a weedy point later in the day. Aside from the light-green rice on the surface and a long line of pads, pencil reeds poked above the surface about as thick as pencil reeds can get. We plied the outside edge for a while without much luck before I lifted the anchor and maneuvered the boat into the salad.

Within seconds, our first bobber had plunged below the surface and Lila held up a legitimate 9-inch sunfish. After that it was game on, and perch, sunfish, and rock bass bit nearly nonstop. It was a smack-your-forehead moment for me because I knew the lake was full of northern pike, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass. The predators were probably cruising the weed edges, which pushed the panfish into the cover. It’s not always rocket science when it comes to how fish think. Eat, don’t get eaten, eat, don’t get eaten…

Once we started picking apart small pockets in the weeds, we caught fish nonstop and it was a blast. If you’re struggling to find good panfish fishing right now, you might want to dig into the vegetation until you’d almost be better off with a cane pole (actually, that’s not a bad idea either). You might find the fish tucked in deep enough to avoid being on the menu. And you just might save the trip, fish-wise, for any youth who happen to be wondering about your skill level as a fisherman.

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