Welcome to Panfish!

Part Eighty-five

Don't Wait for Spring

By John McBride

Now is the time of year that all I hear from most fishermen is " all I can do now is tie my flies and wait till spring!" or " now all I can do is wait till first ice!" Sound familiar?

Well now is the busy time for me, gathering bait and mapping new lakes. Yes, I said bait - got kids? Want them to fish?

Drive down your local dirt road, (if you have one nearby) and have the wife or kids, or even a pal watch the fence line along the ditch for straight stalked weeds with a ball on the stalk. (The state owns thirty feet from the center of the road here in Indiana, so getting into trouble with farmers is not a huge factor here.) Stop the car, and turn on the flashers, get out and cut the stalk above and below this ball with a pair of small hedge clippers and place into a plastic bag, and cruise for more. When you get home, tie all of your cruising stalks together and hang outside or in an unheated shed, or garage. (If they get warm the grub inside will eat its way out just like a hickory nut grub!)

When you are ready to go fishing, take a sharp pocket knife and whittle down into the stalk ball till you find the grub. Poke about a dozen small holes in a snuff box lid for air, (or use those plastic 35mm. film containers,) and place grubs into snuff boxes with a half and half mix of fine sawdust, and cornmeal. They will keep in the fridge for about a month. These goldenrod, horse weed borers are tiny and great bait all year long!

Also if you have kids it will keep them busy. Watch for the worm balls out the window, and then after you cut down to a worm in these balls have them pull them out carefully. (Their little fingers work better than our fat fingers any day!)

Just another alternate bait to out fish your buddy with! Especially great for catching panfish for the kids. They smell and taste different than their store bought wax worms and spikes, or mousies.

Watch the lake freeze for Pike! CHECK IT EVERYDAY!! Pick a lake that is real accessible to you and try and get a topographical map of it. Or troll around the break with the depth finder running and map it yourself. (A map inside a gallon Zip-Lok bag and a fine tipped dry mark works real well!)

Now as the ice comes on, watch for ice less pockets or strips on the lake. Mark these spots on your map PIKE!

When the ice is gone and you are getting the boat around in the spring, take a water thermometer, (one that has the drop line so it gives you instant readings!!) and go trolling across these spots that you had marked that winter.

If the water is colder than the rest you have found a cold water spring, and you have just found a top-of-the-line-Pike spot! Pike love these cold moving water springs during the summer.

Any incoming spring, or channel will produce Pike all spring, and fall. And when the hot days of summer come, and your buddy tells everyone "The Pike quit biting because they are growing back their teeth," you can snicker to yourself because you know you can go catch pike in your cold water spring spots now. (Isn't it great to out fish someone once and a while?)

With all the fishing traffic nowadays you need an edge to catch those nit-pickey panfish. They have seen every lure and bait you can buy, so why not try the old retro-tecniques? Outsmart them.

Tie a few, fish a lot!! ~ John McBride

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