Never Fail Panfish Patterns

Classic fishing patterns can be counted on year-after-year. Classic panfish patterns tend to be defined or augmented by environmental conditions that recur naturally, or through common needs. Warming water and the need for cover are two prime examples.


Patterns are repeatable. They describe why fish go where they do, and how they behave while they're there. In summer, postspawn patterns are foraging patterns. Panfish go where the food is in summer, with one overriding caveat: They want cover if they can get it. A complete pattern also suggests the primary method for catching fish in that location. Alternatives may come along, so that's up to you and 40-odd million other panfish enthusiasts to figure out.

Sometimes a pattern is so logical you wonder why you didn't think of it before (if you didn't). Sometimes a pattern is just the opposite — obscure, counterintuitive, and occasional, like finding crappies suspended over 60 feet of water chasing a massive, once-every-five-year hatch of emerald shiners on an obscure lake. Sometimes a pattern is fleeting — connected to a bug hatch, the eggs of spawning fish, or another ephemeral event. Classic patterns, however, tend to last for weeks, even months.


I contacted experts North, South, East, and Midwest to learn which patterns recur every year, for perch, bluegills, and crappies. I asked them to share the patterns they find in their region, from all kinds of environments.


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