Fishing tips: vertical jigging for panfish during the dog days of summer

We always can find some smaller panfish along the shorelines in the weeds, but with the water heating up over the past few months, larger bluegills have moved deeper. They’re seeking cooler water. You may find these fish on the outside edges of the weedlines and as deep as 28 feet of water. That’s quite a spread, so use your sonar to locate the outside edges of weeds, then look for panfish schools.

I like to target these fish with a vertical presentation using a 1/32- to 1/8-ounce jig tipped with a plastic right over the side of the boat with no bobber. Drop your lure down to the depth you are marking fish, but pay attention to your line as the lure falls, if your line jumps, quickly set the hook. Bluegills quickly will suck in and spit out a lure, thus giving you only a brief moment to hook them. If small fish grab your lure before your presentation can reach the larger fish, you may need to add weight to get down faster. Small bluegills often will rise up in the water column in sort of a feeding frenzy. I usually will drop my lure all the way to the bottom and slowly lift and jig the bait to create a subtle action. Keeping a tight line allows you to feel bites and react quickly to set the hook.

Experiment with different sizes, profiles, and colors of plastics to determine what works best. I like to begin with larger baits and work my way down if necessary. Bulky plastics work great when fish are aggressive, but when the bite deteriorates, you may have to downsize your presentation to increase your hooking percentage. Tungsten jigs are also a good option because the heavier but smaller profile makes it easier for bluegills to fit it in their mouth.

Good luck fishing and stay safe.

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