Jason Mitchel – Productive Panfish Locations + Devils Lake Updates

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 Dec 24th, 2021 by Keith Worrall 

Modified Dec 24th, 2021 at 3:52 PM

We are seeing ice conditions improve across the Midwest. We spent some time earlier in Minnesota targeting panfish on small lakes. Found both crappie and bluegill over basins and bowls… the classic soft bottom early ice spots that seem to produce every winter.


We put together a quick video highlighting these productive locations and are also having a lot of conversations with different ice anglers about how spooky early ice fish can be when there is less than six inches of ice. Seems like forward facing sonar like Panoptix or Active Target is giving us a better understanding of just how much fish spook at times and how much fish move. In these basins and bowls that are smaller in size, it often seems like fish just swim in a big circle around the basin and there are times when it pays to just sit and run traffic. There are times when making a lot of noise and drilling a lot of holes just seems to push fish away from us.

Back home on Devils Lake, we are seeing some really good perch bites happening along with the usual walleye bites. Perch numbers seem to be up on Devils Lake. According to netting results by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, perch numbers are up. More importantly, we also saw our “incidental” perch catches jump up this past summer and fall from previous years. Often seems like we simply encounter more perch while we are walleye fishing, and the summer/ fall fishing is a good indication to what lies ahead. We are finding good perch bites on the Main Lake, East Bay and East Devils Lake.

Small tungsten jigs like the Clam Drop Kick are deadly, love the long shank hook for packing a lot of wax worms or spikes as the extra bait is an advantage over deeper water. We are fishing anywhere from 20 to 32 feet of water so far and braided line can also be a big advantage in this deeper water. We were talking in the baitshop the other morning about how many more fish we seem to catch when using braid over deep water. The bite is often light so bite detection with a noodle tip rod or spring bobber seems to be better but the hook up percentages also seem much better. If there is one tip, I believe 100% will help you catch more of these deep-water perch on Devils Lake, try a 4-8 lb Frost Braid. We often use a fluorocarbon leader on the end but in the deep water, it often isnt even necessary.

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