Spring is the time to clean up on bluegills, especially large males in spawning mode. Males move from deep water to the shallows for spawning when water temperatures move above 60 degrees. Bluegill fishing in Pennsylvania is at its best in the spring during the spawn. Bluegill spawning activity is the greatest when water temperatures are between 70 and 75 degrees. This is when males dig spawning beds, or redds, in anticipation of a suitable mate. The bite during this time is intense. Males attack anything entering their redds and as soon as one male bluegill is caught another is waiting to take his place.
One of the best fighting and best eating panfish, Crappies in Pennsylvania are a rewarding fishing experience. No need to have all that fancy equipment either to catch them. A simple five or six foot rod with a small spinning reel, or even the old Zebco, will work. Bait and lures are simple too. A few small jigs or some single hooks and live bait are all you need.
Two species of Crappies are found in Pennsylvania waterways. Both black and white crappies have similar life histories but prefer different habitats. Black crappies prefer clear and cooler waters, living mostly in aquatic vegetation. White crappies on the other hand thrive is silted and turbid waters occupying water around submerged logs, brush and stumps. Crappies are easiest to catch in the spring and winter months, as they move from their deep water sanctuaries, close to shore. Late Spring is the best time to catch a bucket full of crappies as they move from feeding structures to shore to spawn. Fish shallow areas of lakes as water temperatures warm to capitalize on this Spring bite. Crappies become very aggressive at this time of the year, and will usually strike anything that comes close to them. This time of year, these fish are moving towards deeper waters especially as lake temperatures drop. Focus on deep drop offs well off shore and fish schools with your depth finder.
High success artificial lures are small jigs tipped with small twister tails in various colors. Want to land dinner? Crappies can’t resist small live minnows, making them your best bait for catching large numbers of crappies. These fish have thin small mouths, so you must be cautious when setting the hook. A hard hook set might pull your hook right out of their mouths. Black crappie tend to school more than white. Finding these schools can be challenging but rewarding once you do. Be patient for larger fish if you hit a school that only seems to be producing small crappie.
Better lakes for crappie in Pennsylvania are Blue Marsh Lake, Lake Marburg, Raystown Lake, Lake Ontelaunee, Shenango Lake, Rose Valley Lake and Little Buffalo Lake. The Susquehanna River actually holds a nice population of crappies if you can find them. With some basic tackle and hitting the right water, crappie are a great species to target and don’t forget to keep a filet or two for that next fish dinner.
- Don Manning (FISH THIS)
Do you think you are an elite panfish angler? The Northeast Panfish League (NEPL) gives all anglers the ability to prove it. Started in 2013 by Greg Martin, the NEPL offers competitive fishing events exclusively for panfish for all anglers willing to put their skills up against some of the best. The NEPL is an open league, open to all anglers, not a closed member organization. Competitions are held year round in both open and ice covered waters drawing both local and out of state anglers. The NEPL is more than a panfish tournament series, it provides a great atmosphere to meet like minded anglers, share fishing tales and learn new techniques. As the NEPL grows so does its reach. Major sponsors are now supportive to these events, providing anglers with first looks into new fishing products and existing great fishing gear.
Northeast Panfish League is preparing for its expansion in 2016 due to the overwhelming interest in panfish tournaments. The Ice Master Elite series will begin in 2016 and offer tournaments geared more towards the professional angler. These events will have higher entry fees but offer much higher payouts than current NEPL tournaments.
If your not a bass tournament angler or just looking for an fun way to meet fishing buddies and fish competitively, then join the next NEPL panfish tournament. Upcoming events can be found on our fishing events page or by visiting the Northeast Panfish League website. NEPL can also be found on Facebook and Youtube where you can keep current with panfish techniques and awesome fishing videos.
- Phil Manning (FISH THIS)