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Two Pound Crappies, One Pound Bluegills


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I try really hard every winter to catch these guys, but it never seems to happen.

Rainy, Red, South Dakota, Nebraska and everywhere in between. Not one yet.

I would like to catch (and release) one in Minnesota, though. So…

Do you catch panfish this size through the ice? Do you know where I would have a reasonable chance to do so? Have access to some kick butt private water?

So maybe I’m begging, but I am willing to make it worth your while. I have for barter:

Fully guided trophy bass fishing on little fished waters (several over 6# last year), fully guided late-fall trophy muskie fishing (or any time after mid-July) (fish in mid-40# class last year), cash-money, secret lakes, or basically whatever.

Willing to go to lakes in a blindfold or do whatever it takes. Strictly catch and release and very tight lipped.

Let’s talk.

[email protected]

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I think your chances of catching fish that size is much better through the ice than during most of the open water season. Granted you can tie into a few monsters during the spawn, but most of my larger pannies have come through the ice.

A 2 pound crappie and a 1 pound gill are both phenomenal fish, especially the 1 pound gill. To say a lot of lakes have them would be difficult (at least in readily catchable numbers), but they are around, no doubt about that.

Oftentimes I turn to smaller lakes that are less pressured. And this goes for both crappies and gills. Yes, the larger lakes play host to some monster panfish, but it's the smaller lakes where your shot is better in my opinion. Or else some of the back bays and areas off larger lakes.

I would first do some research and find a handfull of lakes that you know hold large fish. Then refine the search and figure out which lakes seem the easiest to fish (or break down into sections if you were to hit those bodies of water). Then it's just a matter of figuring out the time at which you target those lakes. Late ice being prime time in my opinion, namely the month of March.

The potential in MN is definitely there, so don't get discouraged. I've spent a lot of time of "trophy panfish lakes" only to fall short on my goal of seeing those trophy fish. It's not an easy task, so don't worry about it if the rewards don't come overnight. But again, my best advice would be to do the grunt work prior to hitting the ice by figuring out which lakes holds decent numbers of potential trophy fish...

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I just got back from a trophy bluegill hunt in the Grand Rapids area. I personally didn't catch any 'gills much over the 9", but our group managed a 10.5", 3 10's, and several that were close to 10". Go over the metro forum for pics. All the big guys were released. We were fishing moderate sized lakes that received pressure. The bruisers all went for hair jigs or plastics over meat. Interestingly enough, both bodies of water had experimental regulations that only allowed 5 bluegills to be kept. Seems to be working!

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If you read through the Duluth forum you will read about some good lakes, one which I have caught several Gills in that 1 lb range. I caught one a few years back will fishing for walleye during July that tipped my scale at 2 lbs even just a few ounces shy of the record. That thing was a BULL in every sense of the word. I assume my scale was a little off but the fish was way over a pound. The part that kills me is that I was young and stupid and I didn't get a tape measure on it at the time although somewhere I have a bad polaroid shot of it.

The lake I talk about holds a good number of fish in the 9-10 inch range with some going towards 11 inches. They are a ton of fun.

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A few years back URL and Pelican (Orr) I think would've been pretty good options for ya. We have got into the slabs on URL this year but I'm not sure what pelican is like anymore. Back home, north of the metro, I had access to a private lake that produced 3+ monster slabs every winter and a 16 incher every time out. Don't mean to tease but if you can find someone that'll take you to a lake like that you've got it in the bank. I haven't been invited back and have lost contact with the family that granted me the access to the lake I mentioned otherwise we'd have a deal.

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So I posted this offer approximately two years ago and had no takers. It's go time for the big muskies. If you can put me around 1# bluegills or 2# crappies on the ice this winter, I can put you around 40# class muskies over the next month. This is a first class offer. I fish from a 20ft Ranger with custom Thorne Bros everything. If you are not into that let's try to work something out.

Email me: [email protected]

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I think you are asking for a pretty tall order. You and I can go out to a lake that has 1# bluegill and 2# crappie potential but if you strike out or fall short, does that mean that the deal is no good?....Another likely scenario, I go out with you and we fish hard on the Big V, Mille Lacs, and Leech, but we didn't quite get a 40#er....the point is the same, you need things to really line up to make it work. I've chased some big bluegills in places where I know they are there...it doesn't always work out.

I think the best advice was already dispensed by Matt Johnson. Find the water, dial the fish in, hit them when they are vulnerable (through the ice or during the spawn) and you will find your trophy panfish. I don't think you are finding a lot of information swappers because it isn't the same fishing trophy predators (musky or bass for example) as it is fishing trophy secondary consumers (panfish). Trophy panfish water isn't as "easy" to find as trophy musky waters, oftentimes fishing pressure means way more than just finding good forage and enough water. I don't mean this in a bad way, but you and I can both tell people where to find trophy muskies (although you can probably get into more specific detail than I can), they're just not as scarce or hidden as bluegill waters are, for example.

I wish you luck finding a swapmate, however, the code of most of the bull bluegill and slab crappie chasers is secrecy and catch photo release, particularly with small lakes. For larger lakes, check out the special regs

Good luck

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I caught a freakin' monster once on a popular lake up north. It was released. I am not sure how long it was or how much it weighed but it definetly cleared a pound. It was about an inch taller than a dollar bill. It looked about as big as the sunnies swimming around the aquarium at that store out in rogers.

All I have is this out of focus picture that makes it impossible to tell how big it was. Every time I look at it I kick myself for not taking another picture (in focus) of it in my hand for comparison.


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Can't help with the Mn bulls but I may be able to help with one in Iowa, Crappies not sure about but I do see them in that class and lost 2 in the 16-17" range couple years ago. I only target pannies in the winter and only when I can't get eyes and perch to bite but I do fish on a world class bluegill fisherie.

Did I mention I have a muskie addiction laugh

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For big crappies through the ice I would highly suggest Rainy Lake. Some Monsters come out of both the American and Canadian sides.

We did have a lake for couple years in my neck of the woods where we were catching 10" and bigger gills fairly consistantly but it got POUNDED and guys kept them big ones and now its back to normal. They are still there but I havent seen a true 10"er in over a year.

The same lake put out a few 17" crappies during that time but again after them 2 years I havent gotten anything over 15 out of there.

URL still has some monster crappies but you really really have to work at them.

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There are many lakes in this state that can produce 2 pound crappies IMO, as far as 1 pound bluegills there are quite a few lakes but to me there are more lakes that can produce big crappies than say bluegills. Its like Matt said its just doing your homework and going out and putting your time in, cuz they are out there. I just can't believe after all the places you have been that you haven't caught a legit bluegill or crappie for the size you want. But I disagree with the winter part as I think more big crappies and bluegills are caught during open water vs. winter (even with early & late ice), because people aren't souly after pannies like they are in the winter and accidently catch a nice slab or gill while ) fishing for another species (walleye, pike, bass, etc). URL is a walleye lake now, and not what it use to be for crappies, and so talk about putting in your time on that lake or spending at least 2 or 3 weekends of your winter up there fishing hard, and not at west wind. There have been already some dead on hints from guys who previously posted before me that can work in your favor but also my best advice is do the leg work and fish lakes that don't recieve alot of fishing pressure in the winter, but if you do choose a lake that recieves alot of pressure get the heck away from the ice shanty groupies and don't be afraid to fish in the shallow weeds either..hope this helps ya on your quest.

Side note: This is just me but I'd rather catch big crappies and big bluegills any day over a 40 lb muskie...but if you could hook a guy up to catch a legit 40 lb laker now you talking!

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I have a lake that I can go to every year at certain time of the season and catch trophy gills. The only people I have ever brought there are my mom and dad. I don't even tell my close fishing buddies about this.

I fish a few lakes that grow giant crappies. I have only told two people that I can trust about this lake. Another lake the biggest we got was a true 18.125". Unfortunately, I didn't catch it smile. True meaning close the mouth all the way then measure. I guarantee you 90 percent of fishermen don't do this. On a crappie it's almost an inch difference or about 3/4 of an inch. You thought catching a 15" was difficult, try closing the mouth all the way and you will find it just got a lot harder, lol.

I fished Red during the peak crappie bite. I hate to break it to you guys, but most of the Red lake crappies were in the 3/4 lb to 1.5 lb range. The mythical 2lb crappie was caught occasionally, but it was rare and not at the rate some claim. The 15" crappies they claimed to be getting were closer to 14". Close that mouth. smile

To tell you the truth, the most fun way to find trophy fish is by trial and error. Nothing more rewarding IMO.

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*To catch trophy crappies and gills should you target bigger(500+ acre lakes) with a good panfish reputation OR start hitting the off the beaten path potholes in hopes of getting lucky???

I'm going to take a stab at this and give you my opinion, FWIW. Lakefinder is a great combing tool. A lake survey is a snapshot in time of a fishery. A lot of the small lakes, while probably not hit in the last 20 years, were surveyed, including some without public accesses, and those surveys can at least show you if big fish were present. Deciphering which lakes aren't getting the pressure and have the potential is up to you. My preference is to find the small lakes and explore them.

That said, I know plenty of guys that hit the bigger lakes and look for spot on spots...optimal feeding locations where these fish want to be...sort of a hierarchical feeding approach. The big boys get the best chow spots. Think of the mud on the old Red Lake Crappie Highway, or the back bays on Pelican a few decades back...You can still do this today on some of those lakes with special regs.

Both approaches are time intensive...you weed through little lakes or you weed through spots to fish on a big lake. If trophy panfishing was easy, everybody would be getting 2 pound crappies and 1 pound bluegills. That's why getting those fish is like getting a flush in poker or getting a 55 inch musky.

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Large and small lakes will produce trophies, it's just that the smaller ones may be easier to comb through due to size. Typically though, the larger lakes will hold higher concentrations of trophy panfish, it's just hard to pin them down.

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Might seem strange to hear the a lake that has a name that starts with a "V" up north holds quite a few trophy panfish!

I caught them fishing for smallmouth and walleyes! grin

Not to get the rumor mill really going, but its the truth up there. The only problem is numbers, if you can find a couple fish you will be doing really well. Theyre big if you can find one and catch it.

On that lake you would be much better spending your time fishing eyes and perch, and hoping you find a nice slab by accident off a weed bed.

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