August 23, 2007 at 8:51 a.m.
Evidently, there is a very hot panfish bite happening right now on both South Lindstrom and Chisago Lakes, so if you'd like to put some fish in the freezer - or a hot skillet, as I intend to do this evening - it sounds like now is the time to do it.
Crappies, like all fish, key on a particular temperature range within the water column, and it seems that they've found those preferred temperatures in the 15 to 20 foot range on both of these lakes.
Whenever I hear that a number of presentations and baits are taking fish, that usually indicates to me that the fish aren't fussy and the bite is aggressive. Fathead minnows, nightcrawlers and large leeches broken in half are all producing fish, so that should do away with much of the trial and error work in discovering what the crappies want.
Once an active school of fish is located, the use of a slip-bobber to keep your bait at the proper depth and on the fish's nose is wise counsel, but until those fish are actually located, I'd recommend staying on the move and shotgunning the water using a tipped jig with a bit faster sink rate. Trolling slowly with your electric motor and occasionally popping that jig up and down as you move is an effective way to quickly locate active fish.
If you'd like to tie into some toothy critters, there have been numerous reports of pike being taken on area lakes as of late. To name but one specific spot (hey, it was the only spot I could finagle on short notice), the channel between Green and Little Green has been a solid producer of three to four-pound northerns during the low light dusk and dawn periods.
My brother and I, along with our kids, are going to give the crappies and walleye a shot later on this afternoon. It sounds like a cold front is moving in from Canada later in the evening, so before the front edge of that front causes the barometer to fall into the basement, maybe we'll time it just right and nail a bunch of fish. Or, maybe our timing will stink and we'll get rained on. Either way, we'll have fun out there with the kids. I'll let you know how we did.
Dan Brown's weekly outdoor column is brought to you by Frankie's Bait and Marine, in Chisago City, and St. Croix Outdoors, in St. Croix Falls, Wis.