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Panfishing Still Hot Despite Cooler Temps!

Panfishing Still Hot Despite Cooler Temps!
Hey Everybody, spring fishing in Otter Tail Lakes Country has been well on its way for a couple of weeks now!  With every calm, warm, sunny day that we get, the water warms significantly.  With warm spurts and warming waters comes good panfishing!  I have even seen bays that have water temps near 60 degrees and new lily pads!
Unfortunately, like the rest of Minnesota, Otter Tail Lakes Country is in for a cool week or two, so the water warming streak my come to a crawl for a while. The good news about having so much warm water in place already, is that we have gone past the “critical warming point.”  What I mean is that even though shallow waters, conducive to productive pan fishing may cool down a bit, it won’t chase all of the panfish from these areas. If we had a similar cool down 2 weeks ago, it would have been different and entire areas would have cleared of fish. The big difference now is that because there are greater volumes of warm water- it simply takes more to cool the water down and chase the fish away. I think, for the most part, the fish will remain relatively active in the shallows (at least long enough until some warming sun gets back on the water again).
Take a look at the featured photo. The crappie was caught a few days ago. It was a terribly winding afternoon. I wanted to get the kids fishing so I tried to find some wind-releif in a small bay.  As it turned out, I guessed wrong and the wind blew right through the bay I chose—dang!  My kids are a good fishing crew, so we made good casts and didn’t tangle too often. I tried to stay against the shoreline where the wind was less-problematic but most of the panfish were small. My eldest daughter, Mae, was casting further out from shore to avoid tangles with the other kids—and caught larger fish in deeper water away from the shoreline.
After a few good fish away from the shoreline, we changed and concentrated on 6-7 feet of water, rather than 3-4 feet of water. The crappie in the picture was a nice female crappie—and it was large. I didn’t measure it but it was in the 13 inch range. The cool thing about that catch was when Mae hoisted it on the boat, the first thing she said was, “Dad, this ones big, I think we should throw it back.”  We took this photo and she threw it back—awesome!  My kids know that large fish need to go back. They know that often they are females—so they need to be released.
Teach kids to be selective—they are literally the future of fishing!
By Ross Hagemeister
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