Micro Baits for Panfish

Story By Pierre LaFrance

It's winter and some of us have a bad case of cabin fever, but it's also a great time to get out on the ice instead of staying indoors!

A great spot in the Ottawa area to get out and ice fish right now is out in the Petrie Islands area. Over the past few weekends, the panfishing has been decent in both Crappie and Baitshop Bays. In those areas, we've been catching a decent number of bluegill and pumpkinseed along with a few perch and black crappie in depths from 7-18 feet. Baitshop Bay is a very handy spot with Oziles' renting ice huts, having toilet facilities and selling bait and tackle. There has even been a catering service called the Meat Shack selling food out in that bay on the weekends.

Pan fish

Hot ticket baits that I've been using have been Berkley Gulp! Alive Maggots in chartreuse on size 8 to 10 Eagle Claw Aberdeen hooks underneath a small split shot as well as the Berkley Powerbait Atomic 1 inch Fry. Later this winter, I plan to use some of the other baits in that series such as the Atomic Dogbone and Wishbone soft plastic kits that come each with a jighead (1/16 to 1/80 oz sizes).

My rod of choice with these presentations has been the Berkley Lightning Rod Ice ( 2'4" UL model) paired with a Pflueger President 6725 spinning reel (4/115 spool capacity).

The reel is spooled with super thin 4 lb test Berkley Fireline Ice paired with a Berkley Micro Ice 2 lb test leader. I use a small swivel to reduce line twist.

It's a great setup when fishing such small baits and for feeling light bites.

Like with any ice fishing excursion, be safe and check ice conditions for the areas you plan to fish before going out. Remember also that ice thickness can change quickly when travelling from one area to the other due to factors such as currents, snow coverage, etc. Remember to tell someone where you will be fishing and when you'll be back. For added protection, ice picks and survival suits are great items to have.

Here's to a great weekend!
Pierre LaFrance