When you target river panfish, not only do you need to be outfitted to tangle with supersized slabs, but you also must be able to go toetotoe with the inevitable smallmouth, largemouth, pike, walleye, catfish or carp.
To handle the gamut, use a mediumlight to medium power spinning combo, 51/2 to 6 feet in length, spooled with 6to 8pound monofilament. River water is usually murky, so there’s no need to go with the spiderwebthin 4or 2pound line you’d typically use in clearwater lakes. Heavier mono will give you the power to handle any fish the currents give up, as well as pull hooks free from snags.
River panfish habitat is extremely diverse, so it’s best to rig three rods three different ways, so you’re always ready for what’s next. Here are the most versatile rigs; each can be a particularly strong performer in certain situations..
Slip Float Rig: In some areas, current flow is slow or nonexistent, letting you use a float. This is especially valuable because it allows you to fish deep or skinny panfish haunts with ease. A size 6 hook is right for live bait from minnows to leeches to nightcrawlers. Shift to a tiny ice jig if you use waxworms.
to 10 fish; four other lakes retained a 30fish limit. After five years three of the 10fish lakes were producing bigger bluegills; in one lake, the average bluegill size jumped nearly an inch, from 7.3 to 8.2. In harsh Northern climates like Minnesota’s, where bluegills grow slowly, an inch of growth was considered a success.
Other experiments have manipulated the predator/prey relationship by increasing the number of bluegill predator fish (namely largemouth bass) in order to thin out small bluegills.
Unfortunately, that experiment doesn’t work as well in Northern climates, as the peak “predation season” in midsummer isn’t long enough to sufficiently weed out small bluegills. However, the practice has proven effective in Southern waters.
Protecting big male ’gills is another vital factor to the size structure of a bluegill population, scientists say. If big males are overharvested, smaller ones take over spawning duties. Because those small males’ nutrition is now sapped by the reproductive cycle, their bodies don’t grow much, leaving a lake with a healthy population of runt males.
If the larger fish are left to spawn, protect nests and keep the smaller males at bay, however, the runts are kept out of the reproductive cycle and can use their energy to grow.
Thus, an important, natural balance is achieved in a lake by allowing “bull” bluegills to survive. Without them, you’re left with something few serious anglers want—a lake with stunted panfish.