Plethora of panfish on inland lakes

Piles of panfish are available for the catching right now on area lakes.

The heat is on and so is the summer panfish bite.

The bluegill catching hardly gets better than it is right now on the inland lakes. Plenty of bonus crappie, redear and perch, too.

Key is finding them.

Seems to me the first steamy, 90-plus temperature wave of summer pushes the biggest concentration of big 'gills eight to 12 feet down on just about all the area lakes. As the heat wears into August and oxygen disperses, they scatter deeper or into weed and lily pad canopies.

Now is prime time along the outside weed edges. Under water humps or points on the bigger waters can be great, too.

Tossing a pair of tube jigs tied in tandem, and adding a waxworm when needed, works great. So does slip bobbers and bait. Best of all may be tight-lining with a "cane" pole.

A long rod without reel might seem elementary, but it is devastatingly efficient for summer panfish.

A lightweight 14-foot pole with an equal length of six or eight-pound line and a BB-size lead shot pinched one-foot above a No. 8 Tru-Turn hook is the most precise of presentations.

Adjust the depth of a bait's dangle by the angle of the rod above water and use the wind or electric motor to hover near active panfish.

Importantly, lifting bluegill up and away from a school with a long rod seems to keep them biting longer than casting and wheeling 'em back through active feeders. There is also little wasted effort in the quick, up and down method of catching slab 'gills with "cane" poles.

All sorts of baits tempt deep 'gills - waxworms, wigglers, half 'crawlers, small leeches and crickets. Especially crickets. They have that "buggy" look and smell that big bluegills crave, and their size seems to intimidate small fish from biting.

Or, if "cane" pole fishing tweaks your inner 10-year-old, you can always gather your own bait by digging earthworms, shaking catalpa trees or leaving bread slices under the garbage cans for crickets.

Once, I plucked a handful of those pesky "Japanese" beetles off the backyard blackberry and bean plants and caught hand-sized 'gills on them.

In other fishing, hot summer weather and top-water bass fishing go hand in hand. Rubber frogs and the newer Whopper-Plopper baits are great at dawn, dusk and during the late-night hours. Wacky-rigged Senkos are hard to beat during the day along the deep weedlines or around docks on the larger lakes.

Perch are poised to bust loose on the big lake. Anglers out briefly before Thursday's morning storms did well to the west in 20 to 30 feet of water. Steamy weather and south winds have always been the recipe for a sustained perch bite.

Keep an eye on Chief's Bait Facebook page for details on an upcoming perch fishing contest. Chief's, 1114 W. 4th Street (U.S. Hwy. 12) is the only bait shop in Michigan City and they open at 5 a.m. daily to cater to perch anglers.

Local charter boats were into lake trout along with an occasional steelhead and salmon around the 100-foot depths.

Hot weather will likely stall Skamania fishing on the pier and Trail Creek, but it also means they may start stacking up outside the harbor in the 35 to 60-foot depths for trollers.

Congrats

Captain Bill Forrest and crew aboard the 'Angry Pirate' claimed victory in the July 13-14 Hoosier Coho Club Series Tournament.

"We weighed four kings (up to 17 lbs.) and a 15 (lb.) laker," Forrest said. "One-hundred-and-10 feet of water, Illinois, meat rigs worked best."

The 'Angry Pirate' team leads the four-contest series after two events. Next contest date, which is open to all members or want-to-be members, is Aug. 17-18. More HCC Series information is at www.hoosiercohoclub.org.

Jarrett Carlson won the Chief's Bait steelhead contest on July 13 with a whopping 16-pound, seven-ounce Skamania.

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