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!
2019 FLW iCast Cup
Kissimmee, FL is home to one of the BEST places to explore the great outdoors. The endless adventures is only enhanced in the month of July. Sunshine and big bass can be caught in this beautiful location. July also brings about the largest fishing convention of the year, iCast. The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trade is a must-see and attend for all those in the fishing industry. During this week-long event, the 2019 FLW iCast Cup was held with some amazing results.
Bass Online’s Captain Peter Thliveros won the 2019 FLW iCast Cup for the second year in a row on Lake Toho. Captain Peter, sponsored by Lew’s Fishing products lands a back-to-back win. It is the first time in the event’s 5-years that a team has won two times. Captain Peter is incredibly proud of this victory especially since his home waters are in North Florida.
Years of experience fishing Central Florida along with similar last year patterns allowed Peter to dial in on the bass. After two days of practicing, Peter determined the winning tactic. Captain Peter along with his team members John Carman and Matthew Mattingly brought home the title with a 5-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 4 ounces. The bass fishing has been incredible and will only continue to produce quality fishing for the rest of the year.
The 2019 FLW iCast Cup is a charity tournament helping raise money to support KeepAmericaFishing’s fishing to preserve your right to sustainably fish on our nation’s waterways. They raised over $11,000 for the cause and will continue to generate more donations so we have many more years of fishing to come. There was a total of 56 boats in this event helping reach the total raised. You had FLW tour pros, industry experts and representatives along with outdoor media personnel all searching for a Central Florida giants.
The Lew’s fishing team comprised of Peter Thliveros, John Carman, and Matthew Mattingly won by a margin of 7 ounces over the second-place team. The team had a great time fishing the event especially with Peter T, a beloved pro. Years of fishing professionally made a day on the water look easy.
Two days of practice led to Peter finding several schools of fish. On tournament day, the bite was quite different. The morning spot produced several smaller keeper-sized fish on topwater baits. According to Captain Peter, “In an hour’s time, they had all quit biting, and I looked at those guys and said, ”If they’re not going to bite, let’s just go where the big ones are and let them not bite; just in case.” It was this move that allowed them to win the tournament.
When Peter pulled up to the winning spot where he caught a 5-pounder during practice, he instructed his team members to hit the water and start fishing. Captain Peter went into guide mode and allowed his anglers to cull out and catch all the bigger fish. The day was topped off with a 5 pound 7-ounce largemouth bass. They brought this beautiful fish in the boat and hauled back to the weigh-in just in time.
According to Captain Peter, the most productive baits and bites came off a Zoom Mag Speed Worm, Zoom Fluke Stick, and a spinnerbait. During this time of year, hydrilla is the main source of structure for largemouth bass. If you find healthy hydrilla, you can find some quality largemouth. The soft-plastic baits were rigged with River2Sea Peter Thliveros (PT) hooks. The baits were also thrown on Lew’s Mach Speed Stick and Custom Speed Stick Lite rods with Lew’s BB1 Pro and Super Duty Spool reels.
Peter traveled all the way to Orlando in search for back-to-back titles and that is most certainly what he received.
As you can see, the bass fishing on Lake Toho is off the chain. You can really enjoy a day on the water especially right here in Central Florida. Kissimmee is the perfect place to explore with the whole family. Summer is here and the bass are feeding strong in the early morning. Get on the bite on your next vacation to Florida. We look forward to seeing you on the water next time!
Explore what Kissimmee, FL has to offer: Lake Toho Bass Fishing in Kissimmee, FL
Check out all the standings from 2019 FLW iCast Cup: https://www.icastcup.com/
Check out more about KeepAmericaFishing and their innovative: https://keepamericafishing.org/
Come Experience Kissimmee and Catch Yours Today…
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BASS ONLINE EARNS 2018 TRIPADVISOR CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE
Florida – 30, May, 2018 – Bass Online announced today that it has received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence. Now in its eighth year, the achievement celebrates businesses that have earned great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor over the past year. Certificate of Excellence recipients include attractions, restaurants and accommodations located all over the world that have continually delivered a quality customer experience.
“We are excited to announce that Bass Online has received the 2018 Certificate of Excellence award, which honours experiences and business that consistently received strong praise and ratings on the world’s largest travel site. We thank all those that have helped us achieve this amazing award as we strive to make our service the most professional and exemplary in the years to come. We believe in standing apart and providing a service of higher value on a daily basis. Our customer’s feedback is highly important in exceeding our standards and providing an even more exceptional service in the future.” – Todd Kersey, CEO
The Certificate of Excellence accounts for the quality, quantity and recency of reviews submitted by travelers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.
About iOutdoor Fishing Adventures:
Bass Online is the largest provider in Fishing and Outdoor Activities in the state of Florida. We service the state’s freshwater fisheries, with over 100 different locations. We also have a variety of other services that we can offer to help you enjoy the great outdoors while visiting the sunshine state, like sunset cruises and sandbar tours. Bass Online strives to make your experience personal with a high attention to detail, state of the art equipment and safety for the most successful and memorable fishing excursion. Each and every customer is valuable to us and we work for 100% satisfaction on every trip. When booking with us, don’t worry about a thing, hop on board and enjoy an adventure of a lifetime.
The subsidiaries and affiliates of TripAdvisor, Inc. (NASDAQ:TRIP) and Bass Online, LLC own and operate a portfolio of websites under 20 other travel media brands:
www.airfarewatchdog.com, www.ioutdoor.com, www.citymaps.com, www.lakeokeechobeebassfishing.com, www.familyvacationcritic.com, www.fishingtripsflorida.com, www.thefork.com (including www.flpeacockbass.com, www.eltenedor.com, www.fishingchartermiamibeach.com and www.dimmi.com.au), www.marathonfishingfl.com,
www.naplesflfishingcharters.com, www.holidaywatchdog.com, www.floridabassfishing.com, www.jetsetter.com, www.floridabayfishing.com, www.onetime.com, www.bassfishinglakeerie.com, www.seatguru.com, www.smartertravel.com, www.cflfishing.com, www.vacationhomerentals.com and www.viator.com.
* Source: comScore Media Metrix for TripAdvisor Sites, worldwide, November 2017
** Source: TripAdvisor log files, average monthly unique visitors, Q3 2017
Media contact: Joe LoBianco – [email protected]