Small fish equal large fun

Whoever said thatpanfishing was for kids? That might be true if you include every "kid" up to the age of 90. Regardless of what species of panfish you choose to fish for - bluegill, pumpkinseed, perch, rock bass, crappie or bullhead few brands of angling yield the enjoyment and steady action these little gamesters offer. And summer is a great time to fish for them since fishing for the more traditional gamefish species like trout, walleye and bass is often slow now.

There's hardly a water in our area that doesn't offer at least one species of panfish. Pumpkinseed and bullhead are the most common, but yellow perch and bluegill are also present in several waters, as are rock bass, particularly in our rivers. Although they're not considered panfish, I'd be tempted to add pickerel to this list since they are also very common in many waters and can provide good action during the summer months.

Just as you wouldn't use an elephant gun to hunt squirrels, adapting your fishing tackle to the fish being sought is the key to truly enjoying panfishing. An ultralight spinning rod and reel loaded with not more than 4-lb. test line is the perfect ticket. Although many anglers don't own a selection of various weight fly rods, those who want to use one on panfish might consider getting a 3- or 4-weight rod and matching reel and line. Armed with either of these outfits, any panfish caught will make a good accounting of itself, much to the enjoyment of the angler.

Small spinners and tiny jigs will entice most panfish, but so will live bait. The problem with the latter is anglers may wait too long to set the hook, and the fish may then have swallowed the bait and hook so releasing them isn't an option. That said, most panfish are good eating, so keeping a few isn't a bad thing. They're also prolific, so removing some helps the entire population and avoids stunting because they become overabundant.

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