Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake Herald, Minn.

June 8, 1998

Most fish caught are panfish

Bluegill, pumpkinseed, green, or orangespotted, sunfish are the bread and butter of fish and fishing in our area and state.

Although we are known for the walleye, the fish that people catch the most are panfish: sunnies and crappies.

They are the mainstay of fishing, and account for most of the fish caught in our state. The same is most definitely true in our local area.

Sunfish can be had in just about every lake or pond that is close to home. Most aren't big, but they are easy and fun to catch and super to eat.

Around here, four-to-a-pound sunnies are common, three-to-a-pound sunnies are a treat, and if half-pounders are found, look out, that's angling heaven.

Half-pound bluegills send most local anglers into a fishing frenzy tailspin. Believe me, if an angler finds a hot spot on dandy sunnies, you'll never find out where he got 'em and on what they were biting.

Big sunnies require search and find missions that can last weeks, and following a hot tip is sometimes the worst thing an angler can do.

About 15 years ago, my Dad and I ran into a bunch of monster sunnies on a local lake. They were over the spawning beds and three-quarter pounders were common.

That same day, my Dad told a buddy exactly where to find them and what to catch them on. He went there the next day and didn't get a sunnie over a quarter pound. He thought we were pulling his leg. But we had the fish to prove it.

During the spawning season, my Dad and I have tried that same spot on that same lake every year since and have never found the big ones like we did that day.

Fishing pressure and many other factors have seen a decline in the number of big sunfish on our local lakes. However, with a few tricks and some effort big sunnies can still be found.

Lately, I've converted to fly fishing on calm days for bigger sunnies. It works. When conditions are right, the big males seem to prefer a fly on top of the water over an angle worm or waxy dangled below the water's surface.

Other tricks include using small panfishing leeches with a floating jig head just off the weedline or break from the area where the spawning beds are, and to just keep moving and cruising the shoreline.

Big or small sunnies provide the best action our local lakes have to offer.

For more information on panfish, call the the DNR at 612-296-3325 and ask for a copy of the brochure "Panfish: Minnesota's Mainstay."

Outdoor notes

A good way to find panfish in deep water is to troll with a small rig and leech. When you feel a lot of little taps, you've found the fish.

Good baits for sunfish include angle worms, small leeches, wax worms, a variety of flys, and sweet corn.

The Howard Lake Good Neighbor Days fishing contest is set for Saturday, June 27 on Howard Lake. More information and entry forms are available at Joe's Sport Shop in Howard Lake.

Due to the recent cold snap, fishing has been a bit slow on our local lakes with not too many anglers giving it a try.

If you're tired of frying fish, take your next walleye, northern, or bass fillet and broil it in a garlic, lemon, and butter sauce. It's a good change of pace and the clean up after cooking is a piece of cake.

Song birds, and upland game birds have been experiencing excellent conditions for nesting this spring. Hopefully, we'll see a nice rebound in our pheasant population.

The application deadline for the 1998 Minnesota moose hunt is Friday, June 12.

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