Bluegill - Big Bluegill

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Hey y'all I know it's been a long winter and we are all chompin' at the bit to get on the water and on the fish. For many of us, spring panfishing has already arrived. For some...we'll still have to wait a bit. I was fortunate to fish twice this week...once at a public park lake that just had the ice leave that very morning and another that just lost ice yesterday. Neither pond produced huge fish, but I was satisfied with the numbers.It can sometimes be intimidating when you've had a fresh 4 inch snowstorm the day before. But I went anyhow. On both trips, fish were caught using a 1.25 in Comal weighted float that barely suspends a 1/80th oz jig and will disappear with a touch. Bright color and weight of the bobber aids in casting distance and visibility. I tipped my new hairjig creation...Jimmy's Skinny Minnie...with either a tiny worm chunk or, like today, two maggots. I let the southwest winds do most of the work, pushing these tiny morsels along slowly in the slightly warmer northern sections of the ponds. I ran them 5 to 6 feet deep over 6 to 8 feet of water. On 3-18-15 I got 15 smallish gills and 3 crappies. Today, 3-21-15 I picked up 30 gills in the 7-8 inch range, one bass, 3 red ears and 6 crappie. Crappie ran 10 to almost 12 inches and 8-9 inch redears. Water was 36 when I started and warmed to 39 by 3 PM. Here are a few of todays fish...

Bobber would slip slowly out of sight...

Fish like the one above made up the bulk of todays catch.

How bout it, guys...let's share your favorite ice-out patterns for early season success!

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Until this year ive never really fished for gill before June and after October… I always concentrated on the white bass, perch and crappie and waited for the seasons to open on the preds. My eyes and ears are wide open taking all the rigs and patterns into consideration I will start off with the slip bobber like you with a tipped jig or a single hook. I will also investigate the bite on the drop shot on the deeper breaks. Thank you for sharing Jim. It truly takes a knowledgeable and skilled angler to get your target fish this early in the season.the cold water periods are the toughest times to fish.

i fished yesterday along the edges of the ice melt on a large local lake. fished 1/64oz marabou jigs tipped with two spikes. only thing i got was some white perch. its hard looking at that ice and know if i could only get on and use my vexilar i could crush some fish right now. i have found that crappies esp in cold water either pull the float under very, very slowly or you will see the up bite.

i usually fish my hand tied micro jigs in marabou or kiptail, or trout magnets, allot of times i transfer my ice stuff to open water for the early season. and tip with either spikes or wax worms. set your floats so they are nearly neutral so you can see a up bite or so they can be pulled under easily.

when it comes to craps i use the same stuff or minnies. i will not throw and retrieve lures or baits until the water really starts warming up a bit.

my best areas are shallower flats that are right off a main channel area. shallower bays. you need the big flats to warm and hold warmer water to attract early fish. ponds obviously will warm faster and produce fish better because they warm so quickly.

i have also found the fish to be very agressive and bite well about the time you can wear just a hood jacket and feel comfortable, the evenings have always been best for me. the water gets to warm all day and will be at its warmest just before the sun goes behind the mountains.

Got a pretty good 'panfish slam' today with bluegills, crappies, BG x GSF hybrids, and several red ears and three largemouths. Caught a pair of two-pound bass at another pond on Rat-L-Traps then caught about 40 panfish from a public venue, including a 10-in gill and a 20-in bass on the black Jimmys Skinny Minnie in 1/80 oz with a long-shanked # 12 hook that had a greater gap between the hook eye and the hook point. I opened up the hook just a bit to get better hook penetration. Tipped the jig with a single maggot, suspended the jig 4.5 to 5.5 ft below an almost neutrally buoyant foam bobber. Let the southwest wind push the bobber along and watch the float sink down slowly on the bites. Fished them on 2-pound test Trout Magnet SOS Green mono. 68 degrees today, calling for dropping temps this weekend.

Tapered thread bodies on the Skinny Minnie are a new try for me, black is favored, so far.

Should be some action at other local waters soon.

Jim, is that Craft Fur for the tail?

Yes Allen...that is craft fur. For some reason the black seems to lack the texture and smoothness of some of the other colors in the craft fur I have. But the fish seem to prefer black right now, so I'm gonna' ride this horse 'til she drops!

Is it possible the fish are mistaking this jig for some kind of aquatic nymph?  I've been fishing micro jigs, Starling and Peacock soft hackles, and getting into them.  Just tied up a few this morning on some sickle hooks, will have to post a pic so you can see it.  Hopefully it will alleviate the missed strikes.

Allen...they sure could be thinking my intended minnow pattern is another aquatic critter. Nothing has spawned yet, so there are no fry in this pond at this time. Then again, the tipping with the maggot may offer strike support as well.

Just for info, I tried the pink series Skinny Minnie today and the black outfished it 13 fish to 3.

I feel faint!!  Something beat out PINK!  Be still my heart!

It just keeps staying so cold here. It was spitting snow off and on today. 68 deg would be great!
Nice pics, thanks for sharing your info Jim.

I like the look of those Skinny Minnies, Jim! Congrats on some cold water fish.

Thanks, Vince...haven't heard from you in a while...hope all is well!

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