Creature Feature

Creature Feature – Gone Fishin’

Posted by  //  March 19, 2024  //  Articles, Creature Feature

New York has a statewide open season for most kinds of panfish including yellow perch, crappie, bluegill, and other sunfish species. Spring is a great time to hang out your “Gone Fishin’” sign, especially since the ice season was a bust on many area lakes.

Pan-fishing isn’t just for kids! It’s fun for anglers of all ages because these feisty fish can keep the action going when larger-sized gamefish seem to have “lock jaw.” Panfish may be small, but they have BIG attitudes and appetites. You can entice the bite with petitely profiled jigs, spinners, and even mini-crankbaits; of course, live bait like earthworms, crickets, or mealworms fished under a bobber work just fine, too. 

As a life-long angler and passionate conservationist, I’ve switched to lead-free tackle to prevent deadly lead poisoning in loons, eagles, diving ducks, and other vulnerable wildlife. Safer alternatives include tackle made from tungsten, steel, tin, bismuth, and glass, among others. I’ve had great success catching panfish using 1/8 ounce Tin Man shad darts tipped with tiny curly-tailed plastic grubs. For ease of casting, I use an ultralight rod-reel combo spooled with 2-3 pound test line. Twitched and bounced, the darts really appeal to hungry panfish, making for some lively outings—and they also appeal to ethical anglers who want to support wildlife and clean natural resources. A double win!

Visit for up-to-date fishing regulations, including seasons, sizes and catch limits. Also, check out for a listing of online retailers who sell lead-free tackle. Tight lines!

Article & photo by Margie Manthey

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