It’s happening right now people, the Panfish are staging and/or spawning as you read this timely blog. Locally, Crappies on the Kawartha Lakes, as well as Perch on Lake Simcoe, and I’m sure Perch on Lake Erie too, are the latest reports I’m hearing about, from very reliable resources (Ang and I haven’t been out yet but it’ll happen soon).
There are a couple of scenarios that you need to consider in order to succeed in catching Panfish this time of year, the fish are either ready to move in and spawn or they are already there. By moving in I mean into the shallows, like bays, creeks, canals and so on. Those spots are the easiest to find, it’s a visual thing. The stagers are a different story. This is where good electronics come in. As for the Perch in Erie or Simcoe, you need to know how to read the sonar screen(s) and know that it’s a school of fish under your boat. In the case of Crappies in the Kawarthas, look for those weedbeds on the flats out in front of the creeks, canals, etc. mentioned earlier, possibly the ones you fish for Bass in the summer.
For deeper Perch, a slip float can still be used, but it takes a lot of time for the lightweight jig to descend to the end of the drop (the bobber stop). Try either dropping the jig down, as in still fishing or casting it out a long distance, and allowing it to hit the bottom before retrieving.
Always remember to dress warm and be careful this time of year, as the water (and air) can be very cold.