Where To Find Post-Spawn Panfish

Crappies
When the water temperature hits the upper 50s, crappies move shallow. Look for beds in protected coves, where many nests might crowd a small area. Most nesting areas will be found in 1 to 5 feet of water. To zero in on spawners, search areas with abundant cover and a firm bottom. Hot spots include creek channels that swing near shore and intersect with spawning flats and in feeder creeks. Web Bonus Tip
When crappies leave their beds and shallow-water fishing takes a nosedive, start fishing points, creek channel edges and drop-offs bordering shallow flats. Concentrate your search in the 10- to 25-foot range. The clearer the water, the deeper you should look. The Right Rig
Use ultralight spinning tackle and tie a jig on 4- to 6-pound-test line 18 inches below a small bobber. Or use a 1/0 Aberdeen hook with a split shot above it and a minnow hooked at the dorsal fin. Best Bait
No lure entices crappies better than a small jig. Use a 1/64- to 1/8-ounce plastic tube or curlytail jig that allows quick color and body-style changes. If you prefer live bait, stick to minnows, like golden shiners and fatheads. Fast Facts
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Bluegills
As crappies move off their spawning beds, bluegills move in, usually when the water warms to 67 to 70 degrees. In ponds, fish shallow timber-filled coves, the edges of weed beds and shoreline flats. Lake fish will nest in areas with a clean, firm bottom, often between the bank and inside edge of a big weed bed in 1 to 6 feet of water. Shallow parts of points and humps also produce, especially where there's woody cover to attract and hold fish. Web Bonus Tip:
Boat docks are hotspots for post-spawn bluegills. Flip an unweighted cricket or curlytail jig into the shade beneath and prepare for a strike as the bait falls. Other summer honeyholes include pockets in weed beds, buttresses of cypress trees, creek channels crossing under bridges and edges of deep holes in ponds. The Right Rig
In clear water, use ultralight spinning or spin-cast tackle and cast to clusters of visible nests. In stained water, use a cane or jigging pole with a bobber 12 inches above a split shot and a No. 6 Carlisle hook. Best Bait
Bluegills strike all sorts of lures, but more than 90 percent of hard-core bluegill anglers use live bait, usually a cricket or worm. Keep it light "" a single split shot is all the weight you need. If you're not fishing nests, target stumps, logs and stickups. Fast Facts
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Yellow Perch
Most perch will enter the post-spawn phase in May and return to deep-water haunts. The schooling fish are always on the move and might be in-shore near shallow breaks one day and in 30 feet of water the next. The one constant is that they gather near structures such as rocks, weed beds and creek channels regardless of the depth. Perch tend to feed near the bottom but will suspend if prey demands it. Web Bonus Tip
In shallow lakes perch might summer in 15 to 20 feet of water, while in deeper lakes they'll gather around submerged islands, rocky shoals and points in water 20- to 30-feet deep. Finding soft, muddy bottom areas may help you score. That mud is full of invertebrates such as midge larvae and fingernail clams that draw perch like kids to a candy store. The Right Rig
Fish the bottom using a three-way swivel by tying an 18-inch leader with a No. 6 hook to one end of the swivel and a 12-inch leader with a 1-ounce sinker to the other end. Hook a live minnow through the lips. Best Bait:
Many anglers use only minnows and worms for perch. However, lures also nab these delicious panfish, with small jigs, spinners and jigging spoons topping the list. A good combo is a miniature teardrop spoon tipped with a wax worm. Fast Facts
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Yellow Perch
Most perch will enter the post-spawn phase in May and return to deep-water haunts. The schooling fish are always on the move and might be in-shore near shallow breaks one day and in 30 feet of water the next. The one constant is that they gather near structures such as rocks, weed beds and creek channels regardless of the depth. Perch tend to feed near the bottom but will suspend if prey demands it. Web Bonus Tip
In shallow lakes perch might summer in 15 to 20 feet of water, while in deeper lakes they'll gather around submerged islands, rocky shoals and points in water 20- to 30-feet deep. Finding soft, muddy bottom areas may help you score. That mud is full of invertebrates such as midge larvae and fingernail clams that draw perch like kids to a candy store. The Right Rig
Fish the bottom using a three-way swivel by tying an 18-inch leader with a No. 6 hook to one end of the swivel and a 12-inch leader with a 1-ounce sinker to the other end. Hook a live minnow through the lips. Best Bait:
Many anglers use only minnows and worms for perch. However, lures also nab these delicious panfish, with small jigs, spinners and jigging spoons topping the list. A good combo is a miniature teardrop spoon tipped with a wax worm. Fast Facts
Outdoor Life Online Editor

To catch spring crappies, bluegills and perch, know where they spawn.