Even though panfish launch into some wild feeding sprees, catching them isn't always easy. Like any fish, they sometimes seem to disappear. When that happens, think small.
Let's say you are full and don't feel like eating. If someone offers you a big, sizzling steak do you feel like eating it? Not really. It's just too much. But if offered a small dish of ice cream or sliver of cheesecake, well, that's different. You probably have enough room for that.
That's how panfish are. A 1/16-ounce jig tipped with a big minnow is too much for a crappie with a so-so appetite. But offer it a tiny minnow on a No. 12 hook, or larvae on a tiny ice fly, and it might bite.
The first thing to do if panfish are around but not biting is to switch to smaller tackle, lighter test line, smaller hooks and jigs and tiny live baits. Monofilament of 2-pounds or less isn't too light. You can land a pretty big fish on very light monofilament if you're careful not to let it rub against the side of the hole.
When using a No. 12 short-shanked wire hook, hook the minnow just behind the head. The tiny hook will just about disappear. Seldom will you miss strikes with small hooks because even small panfish take the entire hook and minnow and hang on.
At this time of year use the smallest minnows you can find. Golden rod grubs, maggots and other tiny baits are excellent for finicky panfish. Fish these baits below a slender bobber, or use a sensitive graphite jigging rod to detect subtle hits.
Panfish are hearty eaters and that often go on a good biting spree. But when they decide to eat light, tempt them with something small, something they can't refuse.
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