Early-season panfish can be scattered and not “set up” yet. Sure you might pluck one here or there, but dialing-in that first reeeeally good bite can be frustrating….
That’s why we reached out to Ice Force pro Kee Kong — to get the lowdown on his early-season (first month of the hard stuff) plan of attack for big pannies. Hit the full write-up here on TargetWalleye.com, few excerpts below:
> Kee: “I think my early-ice approach is a little unconventional compared to some guys, but getting away from the norm seems to pay off.”
Pay off is right:
Instead of drilling out entire weed flats, Kee focuses on sharper breaklines that butt up close to ’em. Less drilling = more fishing time. A lot of times ‘gills and crappies will be hanging close together in these areas. #2for1s
> “I really like the first or second break off weed flats in the 10-16′ range. The money spot is the break in between the weed flat and a basin. A lot of early-ice panfish are slowly transitioning to their mid-winter haunts, so this is a great ambush point.
> “A lot of guys will start right in the basin, but most of those fish haven’t moved deep if there’s still decent weed growth shallow.
> “Even though I’m usually not fishing right in the weeds, the kind of growth matters. Cabbage is king, but in a lake with tons of it I’m looking for irregularities within…milfoil or coontail.
> “Fishing this way is cool because as the season goes on you kind of get a feel for when the majority of the fish have vacated the shallow stuff and moved out into deeper basins.”
> “I run a 500-size Shimano Sienna paired with 3-lb Sufix Ice Magic mono…3-lb because it can handle bigger fish and saves time on having to re-tie.
> “Lighter tungsten jigs like a 1/32-oz VMC Tungsten Tubby Jig are my go-to for both crappies and ‘gills.”
Likes the smaller tungsten ‘cuz it’s 1) easier for fish to inhale, and 2) you can visually see “up-bites” better due to less pressure on the rod tip.
> “I like fishing plastics more than waxies or spikes early in the year because I’m in search mode…allows me to be waaaay more efficient. My go-to is a purple Dave’s Wedgee…super durable and has a nice subtle action.