You are currently viewing Early April: Mixed Panfish

Early April: Mixed Panfish

  • Post category:Reports

After seven up and down days weather wise—first some sun, then rain, repeat, plus plenty of wind and temperatures all over the place (though mostly chilly)—it was a wonder what the water would hold for those willing to venture forth into some fishing. Usually when an early April storm fronts blow through the region, the fishing bite will turn off…and that’s usually true of predator species that rely heavier on sight feeding. But wind and rain also muck up the water, mixing it into a slurry of life with bacteria and plankton blended up, which, in turn, can kickstart the food chain into a feeding frenzy. So, what experience would this week hold—was there a chance of catching a bite? There’s only one way to find out and that’s go fishing!

Given the variables of the first week of April and some time constraints between work and extracurriculars, I kept things close to the vest. That is to say, close to home. Fortunately, I was able to sneak in three short jaunts to the local impoundment in Annapolis, Maryland. All three outings were overcast, the water was stained-turned-chocolate milk, and…perhaps most importantly…in the early evening hours (5 to 7 p.m.).

The targets were simple enough as well…panfish and largemouth bass. The impoundment is known to have several species—crappie, bluegill, pickerel, bass, etc.—and on one visit, a surprise. I outfitted myself with a light action setup and another in the medium range. I mostly threw a 1/16oz jighead tipped with a Mr. Crappie Lightning Shad of varying colors.

This 1/16oz jighead tipped with a Mr. Crappie lightning shad is a go-to lure for catching panfish species at various depths throughout small impoundments and river systems.

Trip number one was fun. A white/chartreuse shad on the jighead was plenty visible in the slightly stained water. Crappie hit regularly as I worked along the banks. Even a pickerel gave the lure a try. Very nice pull on the light gear. These were my first crappie of the year, which carries a pleasant mysticism about the experience.

Trip number two proved the pattern, although with water starting to muck up from the week’s weather events I opted for a black/chartreuse shad color on the jig. And the crappie hit with abandon. Even a yellow perch got in on the action. (Surprise, surprise—I didn’t even know they held behind the dam!)

Trip number three was the very next evening and on the very first cast…BOOM…crappie hit. I played along the banks all evening with the crappie. At about 6:30 p.m., just as my alarm on the wristwatch signaled it was time to go (I hate that but it’s life), I saw three huge bass blowups on the topwater. I immediately swapped the jig for a Rebel popper and threw it, spit it, and prayed it would catch a biggun! But to no avail. The big boys just didn’t want what I was throwing.

The first crappie of the spring season were caught in early April.

That said, I had a week of panfishing in the bag. Between crappie, pickerel, yellow perch, and even a few baby bass, there were no complaints. It felt good to try a very simple lure, figure out a very simple pattern, and play with some of life’s most simple fish! To that I say, see y’all on the water again, real soon!

Crappie become active in spring at Annapolis Waterworks Park.