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5 No-Brainer Cold Water Panfish Tactics

Nothing like boating a limit right at ice off.

I never understood why some people wait until the water warms up to start fishing.

Just because the water is cold doesn't mean the bite is. With a little more work, you can warm up with a fish fry. Bundle up and use the tips below to get your limit.

Fish the Shallows

fishing from a kayak

When the sun is out, the water starts to warm up and the bream follow. They are searching and feeding in the shallow water.

Concentrate your casts around structure and shallow weed beds. If you're a bass angler, think of it like flipping and pitching.

Use Live Bait

If you want to locate panfish, use live bait. Wax worms are my go-to, with spikes and mousies at a close second. String two of them up on an ice fishing jig, and there isn't a blue gill that can resist your setup.

Casting Bubbles


If you haven't guessed, even tungsten rigs are hard to cast. By hard, I mean impossible. Use a casting bubble to get to the fish.

Of course, it doubles as a strike indicator so you know when you have a bite. Give yourself a foot of line between the bubble and the bait so the fish don't pay any mind to the float.

Keep Your Presentation Moving

Now that you have your rig out to the fish don't let it sit long. Slowly reel in your bait and pause after two cranks. With even this small movement you'll be amazed with the increase in bites.

Use Flies

When people talk fly fishing, most associate this with trout or a salmon run. While it is gaining popularity for pike, musky, and now bass, I think they do their best work on bream.

If you don't have a fly rod, you need to buy one.

Dry spider flies are deadly effective, with hot pink legs (no, I'm serious). Poppers and black flies are also effective. If you don't have a fly rod, black flies can be tied to your casting bubble rig and do just as much damage.