Whether you are an adult or child, take note: With the arrival of springtime, yellow perch, bluegill and crappie go on the prowl as biological urges to spawn kick in. This means concentrations of aggressive fish in shallow water, the perfect recipe for a fun-filled day on the water.
Yellow perch are the first to spawn, moving into likely areas shortly after the ice goes out. Male perch arrive first, using brush or vegetation where available. Once the females arrive, spawning typically will occur in water temperatures ranging from 44 to 52 degrees.
As spring progresses, crappies move shallow to spawn. Crappies actually will build their nests in water depths greater than any other panfish, with peak spawning activity taking place in water with temperatures ranging from 61 to 68 degrees.
Water temperatures approaching the upper 60 degree range also find bluegills moving shallow to spawn. Again, males move in first and begin building beds in groups known as colonies.
Identifying likely spawning areas and being aware of water temperatures is the first step in keying in on the action. A good surface temperature gauge, whether as part of a fish locator or stand-alone model, is worth every penny and is critical to early-season success. Begin your search by probing vegetation and timber along the shoreline. I prefer to work with a 7- or 7 Ĺ-foot ultra-light or light-action spinning rod coupled with a spinning reel spooled with two- to six-pound monofilament.
Presentations for spring panfish often do not need to be any more complex than live bait suspended under a float, and thus anglers need to have an assortment of small hooks, split shot and bobbers at the ready. Whereas smaller minnows are shown preference by yellow perch and crappies, anglers looking to catch bluegill will do better on grubs, worms or small pieces of night crawler. In addition, jigs ranging from 1/64 to 1/16 ounce, depending on the water and wind conditions, and tipped with panfish-sized trailers allow an angler to search an area quickly to locate concentrations of fish.
Spring can be one of the most productive times of the year to catch panfish; therefore, we as anglers need to be responsible with our harvest. Just because you caught it, doesnít mean you need to kill it. I continue to be both saddened and disgusted at some of the pictures I continue to see on websites and blogs; respect the resource! Be mindful of possession and daily bag limits, and donít take home more than youíre going to be able to responsibly consume. Letís all work together to keep the excellent fishing opportunities in our area top-notch!
Iíll see you on the water Ö
Read more from Joel DeBoer.
Joel DeBoer is a Professional Musky Guide, Author, Internet Personality, Outdoor Educator, and Tournament Angler. He can be reached through his website at: http://www.wisconsinanglingadventures.com. Joel will be sharing hunting, fishing, and other outdoor-related information through the perspective of one of North-Central Wisconsin's most successful and accomplished guides.