We’ve all heard of panfishing and any angler has used to term “panfish” to describe something they’ve caught. These are usually the fish we catch when we’re out there trying to catch bass because we’re using lightweight lures and fast action applications along the shoreline.
Every now and then, a bluegill or crappie will take hold and we’ll end up with one of these at the end of the line.
But, do we actually understand what a panfish is and how to catch one? Panfishing in Florida is popular because not only are these fish plentiful, they’re delicious and simple to cook.
This guide to Florida panfishing will help you better understand these fish and how to catch them.
What are Panfish?
Panfish is not actually a scientific term at all, it’s more so “angler slang.” That doesn’t mean that it’s not a correct way to describe these fish, it just means that you won’t find the word panfish in any fishing encyclopedias.
The word panfish actually refers to the fact that you can fit the entire fish in one single pan and they’ll never grow larger than the size of a pan.
For example, if you caught a six-pound largemouth bass, you wouldn’t be able to fit that in a pan. A one pound crappie, will fit in a pan.
Simple enough right?
What Fish Are Considered Panfish?
The term describes a fish that is always small enough to fit in a pan. So, which fish does that include? It will include species such as bluegill, crappie, and sunfish because they’re never going to grow larger than a pan.
Panfish are also fish that when filleted, are small enough to fit in some of the tiniest pans. Keep in mind that no matter how small a bass or walleye is, it’s still not going to ever be a panfish.
This is where things get confusing because we said “a fish small enough to fit in a pan.” Following that logic, a small bass would be a panfish.
Generally speaking, bluegill, crappie, sunfish, perch, pumpkinseed, and even rock bass are the only fish that we would label as a “panfish.”
Panfishing in Florida: The Basics
Now let’s get a little more specific. This is a Florida fishing guide after all. Let’s talk about some of the panfish you can expect to find when fishing the canals and ponds throughout Florida. There’s a large assortment of panfish here and this section of the guide will break it down for you.
Florida black crappie has a few different names. Some people call them specks and speckled perch, while others still refer to them as “crappie.” Either way, Lake Okeechobee is the greatest place for crappie fishing in the state.
Contrary to what we think we know about panfish, these guys spend some time offshore feeding on smaller fish so they grow much larger in Florida than they do in other states up north. Fishing with small minnows and grass shrimp are one of the best ways to find crappie.
Many anglers also attribute a lot of their success to night fishing. Keeping a lantern or boat light can draw a lot of attention from insects forcing the fish to come closer to the surface for pitching action.
Fishing for Bluegill
Bluegill fishing is the most common panfish in Florida because they thrive in a lot of situations across many of the lakes and ponds throughout the state. They have a large population in rivers as well with most anglers targeting them at the base of dams. They eat larvae and insects but live worms are considered the best bait for most bluegill anglers.
They spawn throughout the late spring and summer and it’s not uncommon to find as many as 30 or 40 of them in the same location. They’re pretty easy to catch with lightweight tackle, finesse techniques, and fast action rods and reels.
Ultralight is the best way to go because feeling every little nibble is essential. These guys don’t strike hard like bass do so you’ll need to feel everything otherwise they’ll eat your bait without you even knowing it.
Sunfish Fishing in Florida
These guys are known as shellcrackers around here and they eat a variety of live bait ranging from worms to clams and snails. March and April is their prime spawning season and they spend most of their time around hard bottoms near rocky dams. They grow a little bit larger than most bluegill and it’s not uncommon to find sunfish larger than one pound.
Lightweight tackle and ultralight applications are best here as well. Be alert and pay attention to every little nibble you feel.
Top Panfishing Techniques
We’ve talked about the baits and lures we should use but let’s speak more specifically about the fishing techniques you should use for panfishing in Florida. We know that fishing near rocks and dams is the best strategy but how should we present our bait?
Slow Rolling – Slow rolling jigs is one of my favorite methods. It involves casting long-distance beyond your target area and returning back to that area with a slow and steady retrieval. It’s one of the simplest methods of casting but it allows you to pass right over your target.
Vertical Jigging – If you’re fishing around the structure you’ll want to try vertical jigging. This involves pitching or dropping the bait near the boat and jigging it with the tip of the rod. Being able to identify shoreline structure is key so having a fish finder like the Lowrance HDS will help you locate fish that are holding to structure.
Dabbling – This technique works best when fishing the area of a river that dumps into a larger body of water. You’ll cast out right where the river feeds in and use the water movement to keep the lure in place. This action creates a natural movement of the lure and works great with live bait.
Where to Find Panfish in FL?
The best part about panfishing in Florida is that you can find them almost anywhere. If you’re targeting them for cooking or to introduce your kids to fishing, this is a great place to start. Most panfish start spawning season in the spring with their best fishing around April. All the canals surrounding the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee, Orlando, and Kissimmee are great places to find most panfish.
To Charter or Not to Charter?
If you’re traveling to the area, we always recommend taking advantage of a panfish fishing guide. Going out on the water with a guide is the best way to introduce yourself and your family to the sport of fishing and if you’re bringing kids along with you, it’s even better.
Many guides guarantee that you’ll catch something and they turn a fishing trip into a complete experience. They’ll show you exactly where you need to go, what gear to use, and how to fish the right techniques to catch as many fish as possible during your trip.
At this point, you should understand what panfishing is and know all about the most popular panfish in Florida. These fish are a great introduction to fishing for children, they’re tasty, and fun to chase.
If you’re in need of a unique and exciting day of fishing, panfishing offers a lot more of a thrill than you think. Good luck out there!
The Indian River is 121 miles long and it runs throughout the Indian River Lagoon system in East Florida. The river system runs right along the coast and it forms the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Its name came from the Rio de Ais Indian tribe and along the river, you’ll find dozens of incredibly historic Florida towns.
So, what draws people here? Why would it be worth it for you to leave your cozy little sleepy town to visit Florida for a river?
If you stick around long enough, you just might find out. Indian River fishing is some of the best in Florida. There’s a large variety of species, really healthy water, plenty of access points, and great opportunities to fish brackish inshore water.
Indian River Inlet Fishing
The Indian River Lagoon is minutes away from the Orlando International Airport and it stretches for 121 miles from New Smyrna Beach down to Vero Beach. On the way, it passes through other highly desirable areas such as Cocoa Beach and Sebastian. This river is one of the top destinations in the world for record spotted sea trout and redfish. Not to mention a majority of state records set in the state of Florida happened on the river.
The Northern stretch of the Indian River at Cape Canaveral houses the Kennedy Space Station so if that’s your cup of tea, millions have sat along the shorelines to watch NASA rocket launches over the years.
On the Eastern portion of the river is where you’ll find the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Here you can see acres upon acres of alligators, dolphins, birds, otters, and manatees.
Indian River fishing is so much more than fishing, it’s great fun and wonderful activities for the whole family even if you’re visiting with a crew that isn’t as into fishing as you are. There are plenty of things for everyone to see.
Indian River Inlet Fishing Report: Top Catches
Alright, enough about all of that; let’s talk fishing. If you’re visiting the Indian River to snag some picture-worthy catches then you’ll want to know what you can expect to find. The Indian River is well known for having a large number of fish and plenty of different species.
Redfish are the number one catch throughout the Indian River Lagoon system and when you think of a true Florida fishing experience, this is where your mind goes. There are plenty of grassy shallow waters throughout the riverbanks so it’s the perfect habitat for redfish.
One thing that redfish are known for is having a heavy appetite and they’ll feast on everything that comes their way. They’re attracted to a lot of different lures and live baits so you really don’t have to think about it too much. Most locals recommend going with soft plastic and sight fishing along with the shallow parts of the river.
Spinning gear is the tackle of choice and it’s a great choice if you don’t have a lot of experience. Interestingly enough, most of the record size redfish caught in this river have actually been caught with flies. So, you have your choice.
I’d suggest bringing a large variety of lures with you and making your choice based on the situation that day. Pay attention to the weather, take a look at your surroundings, and talk with other anglers and anyone else you come in contact with when you reach the river.
This is a world-famous destination for speckled trout and it’s no surprise. The state record for speckled trout was caught here and weighed in at more than 17 pounds. The best part about fishing for specks here is the fact that there is a large quantity of fish in this size range. It’s not uncommon for someone to simply stumble upon one without even chasing it down.
The reason for this is the ecosystem. It’s prime territory for speckled trout because of the grassy beds and mangroves that attract tons of shrimp and mullet which is exactly what the speckled trout want to feed on. It makes it really easy to blend in and with the right presentation and lure you should have no problem being able to attract them to you too.
Locals suggest getting to the river early or right before dusk when you have an overcast sky. These are the ideal trout fishing conditions. They recommend light spinning tackle here as well and prepare for a fight when you hook one.
This wouldn’t be a Florida fishing guide without talking about Tarpon. This river is like a tarpon highway and they just fly up and down the river. The silver king is a hard-fighting, challenging, and acrobatic fish that inhabits the water year-round so you don’t have to time your trip that carefully if this is the species you’re after.
The locals recommend fishing Ponce Inlet during the summer months though if you’re really after some Tarpon. You might want to size up your tackle a little bit because tarpon put up quite a fight and they’re not the easiest fish to get into the boat unless you’ve got the right line and rod on your side.
Top Indian River Fishing Spots
Now that you have an idea of what kind of fish you’ll catch, you’ll need to get a little more specific on where you want to fish. Keep in mind that this river is huge so don’t expect to drop in on very many of these locations because the river stretches down a large portion of the east coast of Florida.
New Smyrna Beach
If you want to start at the top and attempt to work your way down, New Smyrna Beach is where you’ll start. It’s the northernmost section of the river and there are plenty of ways for you to access it. Here you’ll find some of the largest redfish and plenty of sea trout as well. If you’re looking for a New Smyrna Beach fishing charter, this is where you’ll want to look as well.
Working our way down, the next stop on the river is Titusville. It’s the ideal shallow water location and it’s right across the way from the Kennedy Space Center. If you find the Causeway Bridge you know you’ve found the best place on the water for Tarpon and Snook. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to catch a rocket launch, plan accordingly!
Melbourne is home to great Indian River Lagoon fishing because it offers great shallow water opportunities for kayak anglers. There are plenty of locations to rent a kayak from if you didn’t bring your own as well. Not to mention the fact that the water is saturated with huge redfish and speckled trout. If you’re looking for the spot with the highest concentration of large fish, Melbourne is the stop you won’t want to miss.
If you’re planning a trip around the fall, Sebastian is the place you want to go. The mullet run happens between September and October and it’s a beautiful thing to see. Not to mention the fact that the snook and redfish will be chasing down the mullet so it brings upon some excellent fishing opportunities as well.
Fly anglers, hold onto your hat because Vero Beach is the spot for you. There are hundreds of places for you to wade and find incredibly productive snook and redfish angling. There are not quite as many places to launch a boat if that’s your game but MacWilliam Park is one of them and there are many great activities for the whole family here.
Indian River Fishing: How to Do It
The last choice you have to make is how you plan to tackle these brackish waters. You’ve got a few choices but we always recommend one for certain.
Charter a Boat
We suggest chartering whenever you can, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. There are great Florida fishing charters dotted up and down the Indian River in places like New Smyrna Beach, Melbourne, Cocoa Beach, and more.
Fishing alongside a captain is always a great way to go because you don’t have to worry about bringing gear, you can piggyback off their knowledge, and they’ll make sure you catch something. In fact, many fishing charters have a “catch” guarantee otherwise you get a portion or all of your money back. If you’re really looking to create a unique experience, we highly suggest chartering a boat.
Few things in this world compare to the feeling of wade fishing on the Indian River. It allows you to get up close and personal with the ecosystem and target exactly where you want to fish. The big advantage is that you don’t need anything other than your rod and reel. If you’re traveling light or roughing it “nomad style” all you need to do is grab your waders and get in the river.
Most of the places that local anglers recommend are around bridges that run over the river. These are ideal locations but you’ll want to look out for overhanging trees, mangroves, and tall grassy areas as well. Just be careful and watch out for private property signs.
This is the epitome of Indian River Florida fishing. If you want to immerse yourself in the wildlife, kayaking is a great way to do so. It allows you to navigate the water gently so you don’t scare the fish away but you also get to target specific locations because a kayak will permit access to much shallower water than most boats.
If you’ve kayak fished before, this won’t be as challenging for you but you’ll want to make sure you have a plan before hitting the water. If you’re new to it, you might want to look for a kayak-guided fishing trip because kayak fishing requires a lot more strength, conditioning, and experience than you think.
If the trophy-sized redfish and exceptional ecosystem didn’t sell you, you’ll want to try Indian River fishing simply for the beautiful and majestic scenery. They don’t call this area the Treasure Coast for nothing. The Indian River offers some of the greatest fishing on the East Coast and we think it should be on every serious angler’s bucket list.
By Bob Wattendorf, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Saturday January 31st, 2009
If you are like me, you’ve probably heard, “You should have been here yesterday; the fishing was great,” more times than you can count. And if like me, you’re tired of that phrase, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has come to the rescue.
FWC biologists continue to give anglers the best advice on the location of some of the sweetest honey holes to cast a line in Florida. That means you might be the next one bragging about a whopper of a day spent fishing.
Fisheries biologists used a variety of clues, including the recent fishing history of various lakes and rivers based on creel surveys, Big Catch angler-recognition records and electrofishing results. They also evaluated habitat conditions, water flow and young-of-the-year survival from the previous year to suggest the top destinations for 2009. Lists of the best places to go for bass, crappie, bream, catfish and stripers are posted at MyFWC.com/Fishing/Forecast. In addition, regional biologists check with local fishing guides and bait-and-tackle shops quarterly (January, April, July, October) to get insights into how major fisheries are producing and what anglers are using successfully on a variety of lakes and rivers throughout the year. The same Web site will give you access to that information, along with local contact numbers for up-to-minute updates.
Here’s a brief overview of the sites FWC biologists are recommending to the angling public for 2009, but remember at any day the bite can be on in a different time and place – from a small community pond to 470,000-acre Lake Okeechobee. With over 7,700 named lakes in Florida and 12,000 miles of fishable rivers, streams and canals, you’re never far from an opportunity to relax and wet a line – time that is always well spent communing with nature.
Size and Counties
Apalachicola River/Lake Seminole
106 miles, 37,500 acres; Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty
striped bass, channel, flathead and blue catfish
58 miles; Okaloosa, Santa Rosa
96 miles; Bay, Holmes, Walton, Washington
striped bass, bream, channel and flathead catfish
Clermont Chain of Lakes
11 lakes totaling 8,692 acres, Lake
channel and white catfish
15,960 acres; Flagler, Putnam
Deer Point Lake
5,000 acres, Bay
541 acres, Polk
231 miles, Escambia
striped bass, channel, flathead and blue catfish
Everglades conservation areas 2 and 3
210 square miles; Broward, Dade, Palm Beach
Haines (Haynes) Creek
6 miles, Lake
channel and white catfish, bullheads
46,000 acres; Putnam, Volusia
13,800 acres, Lake
28,000 acres, Highlands
bass, crappie, bream
35,000 acres, Osceola
bass, crappie, bream, channel and white catfish, bullheads
5,700 acres, Osceola
2,990 acres, Polk
9,400 acres; Seminole, Volusia
300 miles; Franklin, Gadsden, Leon, Liberty, Wakulla
channel, flathead and white catfish, bullheads
Orange Lake/Lochloosa Lake
12,550/5,700 acres, Alachua
Lake Osborne/Ida Chain of Lakes
356 acres, Palm Beach
4,460 acres, Sumter
8,800 acres; Gadsden, Leon
striped bass, crappie, bream
1,500 acres, Collier
2-500 acres, Pinellas
5,685 acres, Marion
7,500 acres, Polk
Mosaic Fish Management Area
1,000 acres, Polk
9,500 acres, Putnam
St. Johns River
310 miles; Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Volusia
striped bass, channel and white catfish, bullheads
St. Mary’s/Nassau River
90 miles; Baker, Nassau
213 miles, Suwannee
Tenoroc Fish Management Area
7,300 acres, Polk
bass, crappie, bream
West Lake Tohopekaliga
18,810 acres, Osceola
bass, crappie, bream
Grab a friend or relative and try out one of these sites, or investigate a local water hole to create your own list of top fishing destinations. Then pass it on to whoever will listen and let them know the fishing was great – yesterday. Always remember: A bad day fishing beats a great day at work.
BassOnline.com is Florida Fishing largest Freshwater Guide Service, specializing in Florida bass fishing in the Florida lakes, canals and rivers for largemouth
and peacock bass.
To learn more about Florida bass fishing
, visit Bass Fishing Blog
Till next time tight lines and good fishing….
From Staff Writer Capt Todd Kersey Bass Fishing Florida / 888-829-BASS
Disney & Bass Fishing in Orlando, Florida
Ask any 10-year-old and they will assure you that Walt Disney World is the capital of Florida. For most families with kids or teens, this attraction is the No. 1 priority when visiting Florida. But it will take more than a weekend (or even a week) to cover Disney’s 47-square-mile kingdom. To make the most of your time, Disney has a free DVD vacation planner to help you map out the perfect trip.
“Most people don’t realize that Disney World is more than just the Magic Kingdom, says Dave Herbst, Walt Disney media spokesperson. “We actually have four theme parks the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom two water parks Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Downtown West End, Marketplace and Pleasure Island.
If you do plan to spend the majority of your vacation at Disney World, you will save time and money by staying at one of the 25 onsite hotels, which range in price and style from affordable to luxurious. Staying onsite offers several advantages: customized ticket packages, meal plans, hassle-free transportation between hotels and parks, and extended hours at the parks.
For a unique vacation experience, try Disneys Animal Kingdom Lodge. This luxury accommodation is surrounded by a 33-acre savannah with more than 30 species of African wildlife that can be viewed from your private balcony.
Some of the fun educational activities offered at the Lodge include animal tracking and safaris, African crafts and games, and folktales told nightly around the outdoor Arusha Rock fire pit. At Bomo Flavors of Africa, a family-friendly buffet offering breakfast and dinner, happy vacationers can experience cuisine from 50 African countries. Adults will enjoy the AAA Four-Diamond Jiko, The Cooking Place, which boasts the worlds largest selection of South African wines, as well as excellent multicultural cuisine.
Although Orlando is known for its great theme parks Disney, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, Sea World and Cypress Gardens (Orlandos very first theme park) the area offers a wealth of other fun and educational opportunities. Downtown Orlando is home to the Orlando Science Center with multiple floors of hands-on exhibits for kids, giant-screen films and the largest refractor telescope in Florida. And if you happen to be in town during basketball season, get tickets to see the NBAs Orlando Magic.
Interested in Biblical history? Orlando has a very unique theme park that will take you back in time 2,000 years. The Holy Land Experience explores the ancient city of Jerusalem through biblical exhibits, models and performances.
While Orlando boasts 52 million square feet of retail shopping and nine world-class malls, for kid-friendly shopping that will earn you a parent-of-the-year award, visit the 4,400-square-foot, free-standing LEGO Imagination Center and the largest Disney character store on earth, both located at Downtown Disney. Grab lunch at Bahama Breeze Island Grill and enjoy a tropical setting with an outstanding menu of fresh Caribbean-inspired dishes for adults and kids. Since you are in Florida, be sure to order their famous Rebeccas Key Lime Pie.
Several of Floridas state parks (161 in total) are within easy driving distance of Orlando and offer a variety of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Blue Spring State Park, with the largest spring on St. Johns River, is a designated Manatee Refuge and winter home (mid-November to March) for a growing number of West Indian Manatees. Bring a picnic lunch and cool off in the 72-degree spring where you can swim, snorkel or scuba dive. Cabins are also available for overnight stays.
You don’t have to go all the way to the Everglades to experience Floridas wetlands and wildlife. Several locations in and around Orlando offer airboat rides as well as full and half-day fishing trips. Orlando is one of the most popular places in the world to go bass fishing, the home of the BASS Masters Classic and just got to visit place for any fishermen in the family is fun for the whole family.
Heres a wave of grown-up-style fun redefining the Orlando experience,” says Amy Scott, relations representative for the Orlando Visitors Bureau. “From trendy restaurants and couture shopping to brand-name luxury hotels and spas and a growing cultural arts scene, adults have a variety of sophisticated new experiences to indulge in.”
The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is one of those luxury hotel resorts that aims to be for adults what Disney World is for children. This 1,500-acre resort includes an equestrian center, racquet club, fitness center, lake, pitch and putt golf course, and a one-half-acre pool with several waterfalls and a swim-through grotto and bar. With 45 acres of natural Florida terrain, including a nature area and Audubon Walk with elevated boardwalk, you will find it hard to believe you are almost next door to Disneys Downtown area. While at the resort, dont miss the superb seven-course wine-pairing dinner at La Coquina Chefs Table a perfect spot for a romantic celebration.
Want an adult vacation that will allow you to bring your extended family? The Ginn Reunion Resort, located just six miles south of Disney World, is the perfect spot to satisfy everyones vacation itineraries. Accommodations include a choice of condominiums, villas and multi-family homes. The resort is within easy reach of the theme parks, yet miles away from the hustle and bustle. Guests enjoy three signature golf courses, a fitness center, tennis courts, a rooftop pool and lounge, a full-service spa and excellent food at Forte, a contemporary chophouse. Relax or play at the resort or spend the day away.
If your’e still a kid at heart and would like to enjoy some of the theme parks at a more leisurely pace, visit Epcot in the evening and take the 1.3-mile walk around the 11 countries in World Showcase. Stop for dinner in Germany to enjoy folk dancing and an oompah band, belly dancers in Morocco, or singing waiters in Italy. Be sure to stay for the IllumiNations nightly outdoor show of fireworks, music and laser lights.
Another option is Disneys Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios, both of which offer sights and activities for those who would rather skip the zero-gravity thrill rides. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, stop in the Brown Derby Restaurant to view sketches of famous Hollywood stars and sample their famous Cobb Salad and Grapefruit Cake.
If you enjoy the nightclub scene, both Universal City Walk and Downtown Disneys Pleasure Island offer a variety of musical and comedy clubs. Two shows you wont want to miss are the famous Cirque du Soleil, La Nouba, with its mesmerizing acrobatics and stunning costumes (Disneys West End), and the Blue Man Group offering a unique evening of music, comedy and multimedia theatrics (Universal Studios).
Enjoy a traveling Broadway show or Orlandos own ballet, opera or Philharmonic orchestra at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre in downtown Orlando. The downtown area is also home to several museums, including the Orlando Museum of Art the Mennello Museum of American Art and the Orange County Regional History Center, a Smithsonian affiliate. Dont miss the Harry P. Leu Gardens, a 50-acre botanical park featuring the largest documented collection of camellias in the nation.
Take a day to get off the beaten path with a trip to the quaint, brick-lined town of Winter Park. Stroll down Park Avenue with its upscale boutiques and restaurants, and be sure to sample the famous chocolate popcorn at Peterbrook Chocolatier. Have lunch at Caf de France, a favorite with locals who appreciate its authentic French food and excellent service.
After lunch, visit The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, which is home to the worlds most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, including an elaborate chapel interior. End your relaxing day with a scenic one-hour boat tour on Lake Osceola.
Whether you plan to ride every theme park ride, explore the cultured side of the city or simply cocoon yourself at a luxury resort or enjoy a day of bass fishing on of the lakes, Orlando has it all!
Till next time tight lines and good fishing….
From Staff and Wire Reports