How to Catch More Panfish This Summer

Man fishing.

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Nothing is quite like camping on the edge of a river or lake and catching your meals. But if you don’t have any luck with your fishing, you might find yourself going hungry or subsisting meals with granola bars and trail mix.

If you’re heading out for a fishing or camping trip this summer, what can you do to ensure you catch enough panfish to keep you from going hungry? Here are four tips.

  1. Don’t Skimp on the Gear

Don’t try to go fishing for your dinner without the right equipment — you’ll just end up going to bed on an empty stomach. Talk to an expert on catching panfish at your local sporting goods store or grab a beer with a buddy who always manages to land their catch to find out their recommendations for the best rod and reel combos for landing panfish.

Sure, you can always wade into the shallows and try to catch your dinner the old-fashioned way, but that’s not nearly as much fun as landing enough fish to feed your entire campsite.

Okay — it is fun, but it isn’t nearly as efficient.

  1. Pick the Right Spot

Casting randomly out of a nearby body of water might be a great way to relax, but it isn’t going to help you fish for your dinner. You need to pick the best spot for each type of fish you’re looking to catch. Crappies like to loiter around bridge pilings, bluegill nest in the first 4 feet of water during a full moon, and others might be taking shelter in weed beds or under fallen trees that are dipping into the water.

Just picking the right spot can make your fishing endeavors more successful — put your hook where the fish is, instead of trying to wait until the fish come to you.

  1. Do Your Research

Do a little research before you plan your trip and try to plan your trip around fishing seasons and fish spawning seasons. Bluegill panfish, for example, spawn between April and July, and there are always more than you could ever catch in the waters where they nest.

Planning your trip around the times when there will be tons of fish in the water is the best way to improve your chances of catching enough panfish to keep you from going hungry.

4. Bring the Best Bait

Picking the right place to cast your line is important, but it isn’t the only thing you need to consider. You also need to choose the right bait.

Bluegill prefer a plastic grub lure, while others might prefer sponge rubber spiders or live minnows. Plus, if you run out of minnows, you can throw fish guts or even crushed eggshells into the water to entice these little fish to the surface so you can scoop them into your bait bucket and continue fishing.


Fishing for your dinner is an experience like no other. It can make you feel closer to the land while keeping your trip costs down — no need to stock up on non-perishables if you can fish for your next meal. Just be smart about your fishing locations, gear and bait, and you might find yourself catching more fish than you need!

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