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Corey Bechtold

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Well I hope to get out today and chase some of those early season Panfish. The boat's ready, reels have new line, and I have some new plastics to try. All I need now is for the fish to cooperate. I'll probably have the kids along so I'll have to hope for some action to keep them interested. I hope to have my report up later.

What kind of luck has everybody else had? Colors, sizes, shapes?

Lets get it started! grin.gif

Corey Bechtold

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Hi Corey, We have done real well using 2 inch Puddle Jumpers on a 1/32oz jighead. The best color combo was pink head/pearl white body. We found our fish on the edges of some main lake shelves, where they were hanging out during late ice. The crappies were tucked down in he cabbage weeds in 6-8 feet. The key was to fish right down in the weeds, bobber set at 6 feet. We hit some real dandies the day after the ice went out. I'm sure that you can start getting them in shallow too.

crappies04134xv.th.jpg

Twin 14 Inch Slabs

"C & R Puddle Jumpers"

Jason Erlandson

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Here on Tonka I'm finding the crops in the shallow bays, however they are tight lipped as of yet. I'm thinking the females are doing their thing because all we have caught so far are males. Any how, they don't seem to want live bait so we've stuck with beetle spins and similar types. This has provided reaction bites.

After dark it's another story. I'm hitting some of my late ice spots with the good old minnow/jig under a float. It's pretty much to the point where you throw it out and reel it back with a fish. I wouldn't say it's anywhere near "peak" yet so I'm excited to see what's in store!! Good luck to you.

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Today the bite was definitely the paddletail for me. I don't know how many fish I caught but did keep three in the 11 inch range for my lunch.

Colors were variable today. Junebug/chartreuse in the Culprit bait but the "other" paddletail with the ringed body was hot in the blue/chartreuse and chartreuse.

Most of the fish came off deep water at about five feet and were definitely preferring to hit "up". The amount of activity dropped way off if the bait was lowered even a foot. Fickle fish.

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We found the prespawn crappies!! Hit the spot up a few times and have been nailing them in 2-3 fow. Using 1 1/2 inch tube jigs on bare hooks. Red body, chartruese legs and a black head. Letting them just slowly sink. Nothing like prespawn crappies cause they are just vicious! They also seem to turn off when the sun hits the horizon, we probably need to try some live bait then. Gotta keep that C&R practiced otherwise we might not get them here next year. Goin out tonight and we will see what happens. grin.gif

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I was out tonight in a proven early crappie spot, but the water is just a touch too cold yet I think. Although I did see what appeared to be minnows dimpling the surface. Oh yeah, I had a battle royal on the ultralight and 4lb test with a fat, porker of a 27" walleye. How in the heck am I gonna beat that this season? Oh well, it was a great night out, even though I didn't catch any crappies. I did catch one little gator too. With the warm weather this weekend, hopefully the water will warm up a touch. I may have to convince my wife to go with me on Monday evening and try it again.

Brian

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We hit the spot and the crappies were just like the night before but we tried using some live bait. Caught some really nice gills mixed in with the crappies. We easily caught our limit with 3 people but didnt keep any of those sucker cause they were just full of eggs. Its a common misconception of how big the fish is and how big the eggs inside them are. We caught crappies from 6-12 in. and a few really nice ones that got off. It seemed like all the gills that we caught we no smaller then 8 inches with a couple that had to go 9" There were There were 4 other boats in the area that were fishing and they were all keeping fish. I know i have seen a couple of them in that area before and they all must go home and eat fish every night. smirk.gif

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Well my report isn't so great. I searched all over for some warm water and the warmese I found was 55 degrees and all that was in that shallow water was small Northerns, Bass, and timy Sunfish. I moved around and found some emerging weeds in 8 feet of water but the Crappies weren't there. Although the kids didn't have too much action for Crappies they did have a blast reeling in a couple of those Bass. Right at sunset there was a brief Crappie bite and I got the fish on Berkley 1" Power tubes, white on a 1/32oz jighead. I tried Paddletails, Puddle Jumpers, and even flies on the flyrod. The Crappies seemed to be inactive last night. I have a thought that these fish are taking advantage of the major hatch of insects that happened right after dark. Hopefully they will bite better today. I'll try and report later. Here is a picture of one of the Crappies Brooke landed last night.

springfish0028hn.jpg

Good Luck this weekend,

Corey Bechtold

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I like to focus primarily on plastics this time of year, as well as most of the open water months when targeting pannies. Profile is most important right now. Panfish will feed aggressively during spring periods and the use of larger baits shouldn't be shunned upon either. 2-inch plastics are not uncommon for even bluegills at this time of year. A variety of styles can be put into play right now, not to mention colors. CrappieTom (to be honest) has just about perfected the art of pitching plastics for pannies and knowing when, where and how to fish them. He will emphasize color, profile, size and action during this time of the year, and his techniques change as the open water season progresses. His contribution to this topic is almost invaluable.

Right now I'm tossing plastics in two different color patterns (broad category). Natural colors and vibrant colors. Whites and glitters are producing, as are purples and hints of chartruese and high-light. Pinks are also a good choice. I know BDR has been landing panfish pretty consistently as of late with a gold jighead and a white twister-tail for a body. Seems to reflect well in the water and also gives off an excellent profile with the white contrasting in the darker water causing it to appear slightly bigger than it is. The twister-tail also provides action and triggers a response from fish both near and far.

Many panfish are indeed looking for food right now and as the water temps continue to warm you will see an even higher activity level. The recent, and present, rains will also provide some nutrients into the shallows as well. I was just talking with Corey Bechtold (another FM staffer who I would consider to be an expert on panfish) and we both like the concept that spring rain brings to the panfish bite. Seems to only trigger the bite in some situations and rains like we're seeing now I'd consider to be one of those situations. Temps are still holding and by adding a warm spell like we're going to see tomorrow should result in a pretty decent bite.

With the huge variety of plastics we have available to use today, we can just about mimic anything. Plastics can be trimmed down to match profile, size and action, and colors can be implemented for the desired look. The versatility of plastics is incredible and to be completely honest, it has been over a year since I've used livebait for open water panfish. The demand is just not there if plastics are thrown into the equation. Under the ice is a different story, because panfish will examine a bait much longer and tend to feed smaller and with less of a kamikaze approach. But, during open water, the importance of profile, color and action play more of a role. I've also noticed a size difference (in regards to the size of fish) when using plastics vs. livebait. The fish taken on plastics, on average, are larger than those taken on livebait.

Confidence is the key here. It's tough to shy away from livebait when targeting panfish, and that's understandable, but once you acquire that confidence that plastics can (and will) work, you'll be a more versatile panfish angler and you're success for catching quality fish will not decrease.

Just like any fish, at any given time there are plastics that will work on panfish and there are plastics that will not. If one style or color isn't working, try another one. It doesn't mean the fish don't want plastics, it just means they don't want that plastic. I'm not tossing livebait out of the equation either, and in now way is it wrong to use livebait for panfish, I'm just offerring up a different approach that works for me, and I believe that it is something that will work for you as well with a little bit of time and practice.

In my opinion, there is no better source than CrappieTom on the topic of plastics for panfish, and there is an almost endless amount of information on plastics that you can read and soak up in this forum that Tom has posted. This is an excellent opportunity to ask whatever questions you have and to get an answer from one of the most knowledgable anglers on this subject. And then you throw in the knowledge of Corey Bechtold, United Jigsticker and the other panfish diehards, and you have a very valuable tool. There isn't a quesiton that they can't answer and they each have their own insight on every topic (and might I add, insight that has worked for me and insight that I use everytime I hit the water). I've learned an incredible amount of information from these anglers and I'm always looking forward to what I can learn next.

This time of year brings a lot of excitement and opportunity. We get to finally drop the boat in the lake again after a long winter, and we get to partake in the aggressive feeding frenzy that the panfish bring to the shallows. This is one of my favorite times of the year and it's a time when anglers, both young and old, can cash in on some excellent fishing.

Good Fishin,

Matt Johnson

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Great post Matt. I plan on taking my wife and boys out later today if the rain lets up. I have a question for you or anyone else that might be able to help. I hear the talk about crappies in shallow water this time of year, but would I be able to find them deeper as well? I had a lot of success fishing crappies in a certain spot during the winter and I'm wondering if they might still be there this time of year? I was fishing in about 26ft just outside of some structure. I'll try shallow and deep, but I hear a lot of talk about shallow water.

Thanks

Ole

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I don't think I'd tossing all of my fishing eggs in the shallow water basket just yet. A cold rain , a cold front, or a string of very cool days will pull the heat from the water and the fish will do the proverbial disappearing act.

If the water you plan to fish has some deep water adjecent some shallower water, like a small bay, I'd begin by running the electronics over the deep stuff to see if anyone is home there. If there is a bit of structure (weed re-growth or wood), so much the better. later in the day, if the sun shines, look in that shallower water for the fish. In most ares it is too early for the fish to be set up for spawning even if eggs are apparent. The eggs only indicate that the fish is a female. If you want to determine the stage of of the fish to spawning, look at the testes of the male fish. Until these gland swell and occupy a good portion of the gut cavity, the spawn is not going to happen soon.

Right now your best fishing will be in that trnsitional water between deep and shallow. It takes a long time for the fish to give up on deep water after ice-out.

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i hear a lot about plastics, so i went out and bought a kit of paddletails, and was going to get one of tubes, but had to get a rod/reel instead. How are you guys fishing these plastics? if your casting, are you just using the jig and plastic, or adding weights to it?

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I managed to get 7 crappies that went 10.5"-12" the other night in about 2 feet of water. They were more active on the fatheads under a float and a green jig although I had a few hits on glow pink they preferred the green. Mud bottom areas with a few weeds seemed to concentrate them a little more. The water was ultra clear so it was mainly a nite bite.

GOOD FISHIN!!!

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Not!!! We have been planning all week to get out today. We monitored the weather and thought that at only 20% chance of light stuff in the morning we would be safe.

We loaded up everything and hit the road. It was a nice calm morning and we had high hopes. We got to the landing, put the boat in the water and the first sprinkles started comming down. We motored across the lake to our spot and the rain continued, then it got harder and continued somemore, then it was just steady rain. We fished for a while because we were there, 4 nice LM Bass, 4 slimers, and that was it, no Crappies. It was 52 degrees when we went out and 46 when we came back in...we got over 3/4 inch of rain today.

After an hour or so, we pulled the plug, we had had enough fun for one morning!

But hope springs eternal....I never unhitched the boat, we are going to give it another shot in the morning! grin.gif

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The temp was 45 today. The rain was cool. But the sunnies were biting. Smaller ones in the shallows today. Did see a couple large bass cruising around. Also saw one northern cruising around. In with the sunnies were perch.

I started with waxies and switched to plastics. Matt, you're right. Until I switched to the plastics, I was catching all tiny guys. It was all the bigger ones once I switched.

Would you say the fish will be on large flats or in areas where there's a slow sloping? Where we were today, it was a fairly large flat area.

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Lost....The sunnies will be a couple weeks behind the crappies. The crappies will .or should be , looking at some structure getting relative to the pre spawn areas. Your sunnies on flats is no surprize then. If you can find some new-growth weeds on these flats I'd be looking to fish near them...maybe not in them but right next to the weedline. If they are not too tall yet, the tops of weeds might hold real active fish too.

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We got rained out yesterday, but we more then made up for it today.

We went out in the fog this morning and it was thick! We left the launch and you had to keep it throttled back because you could see nothing for more then a boat length or so in front of you.

I set my trusty internal compass, assured my nephew we were headed in the right direction and ended up on the wrong side of the lake!

No problem, I had just neglected to adjust the interior compass for daylight savings time!

Hard to port we went and I aimed her toward the spot, we were on our way, this time I had it bagged! About 10 minutes later, we were back in front of the same lakeside cottage again and we were laughing harder then the Loons that were on the lake in numbers today.

The third times a charm they say, (Or is it the third guy on a match gets shot?) whatever, the third time we hit our targe area almost literally! The shorline came up alot faster then what I would have liked!

For the better part of the morning and early afternoon, we hunted like hounds and had little to show for our efforts, except a few little sunnies and a couple little Crappies.

We did get on them for a little bit in one area, bagging 4 of them in the 12 inch range. We finally found where they were congrgated about 1:30 and proceeded to have a grand old time!

We bagged about 15 or 20 bass for the day and the biggest was about 3 pounds. We also got a half dozen slimers. Had our 4# test cut afew times also. Those bass and pike sure like to bite before the season opens.

We got some pretty fair sized sunnies also, all of them guys went back, we were after Crappies. The Crappies did'nt seem to be interested in the little tube jigs and curlytails we were throwing at them...put a little crappie minnow on a plain wire hook, 2 feet below a small float and it would barely hit the water and down it would go.

The same with the little ball head jigs, a minnie through the lips and it was lights out! We were fishing the Crappies in about 4 feet of water, over a very fertile bottom, was probably heating up nicely. There was what I believe were Lilly Pads shoots growing, at least that is what they looked like to me? We were right over the tops of them, in a little cove and I swear that the plants grew throughout the course of the day, because when we first set up, we would'nt snag them...toward the late afternoon, we started snagging the weeds and had to go even shallower.

All in all a very good day, we caught about 30 Crappies, released most of them, but some made the trip home with us to!

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dockehr...you know, I thought about that when we were out in that fog, but it sits where it usually sits, in my top dresser drawer at home!

I don't know why I don't use it? They are fun to mess around with, but most of the time I have a good idea of where I'm going and it is'nt foggy!

Had I not been so sure I could find my way, in retrospect, I should have hugged the shoreline, right to the destination. Oh well, it was an adventure!

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Tom writes about the "disappearing act" and that is what Matt Johnson, Bailey and myself found on Sunday. We decided to hit some lakes that typically produce larger than average Bluegills and Crappies. It was a shot in the dark because neither of us had spent much time on these lakes other than winter months. When we arrived we found very high water conditions and fluctuating water temperatures. We hit a lot of high percentage spots where the fish should have been to no avail. We tossed everything we had at these fish that obviously weren't there. Water temps were anywhere from low 50's to 59.5 degrees. Still no fish. I watched the locator out in deeper water and still saw no sign of life. The lakes we fished didn't have real deep water to speak of but we did check the basins (16' max). Where were the fish? I certainly don't know. Maybe the previous rain moved them off the for sure spots and made them suspend high enough in the water column where the locator couldn't pick them up? I don't know. For all our efforts we only managed to boat one small Pike while I lost a nice Smallie and Matt lost either a Pike or nice Walleye. We did however have a fun day considering the fish didn't cooperate. Good company, good weather, and good laughs made up for the poor fishing. There is another good side to this bad day though. Even though we didn't catch much I feel that I learned more with this bad day than if we would have had a good day. Sometimes fish can tell us a lot about what they can handle weather and water wise even if we can't catch them. I can't wait to get back out and try and learn more about these Panfish. smile.gif

Better luck next time,

Corey Bechtold

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