by Jack Payne
I hear fish stories many times about a lake that is killer on giant panfish. Rarely does this pan out for me. However we did find a little gem in Mason County. Round Lake is nearly 600 acres and sits between Fountain and Walhalla.
The very first bluegill that I caught went an even 10 inches. Over the better part of three days we only caught four gills under seven inches and the majority went 8 inches or better. Our crappies were all over 10 inches with the average nearing the 12-inch mark.
Bass were a bonus fish and all went 15-20 inches and were caught while chasing the slab crappies. Now before you hook up your boat and head there, understand that we never caught our limit of fish. We caught big fish and our best 3-hour outing produced 21 fish. We averaged 16 fish each time out.
The most productive locations have cabbage weeds and the best depth was between 6-8 feet on Round Lake. Other lakes that we like include Crooked, Pine, Gun or Miner Lake and the depth might reach 10 feet. Using your graph or your eyes you will easily be able to locate the few spots that have both cabbage weeds and the depth.
When fishing the cabbage weeds in late summer or early fall, only a few lures are needed. We rigged our rods up with an action spin snell, a 2.5 inch rival worm and the Whip R Shad or Whip R Snap jigs, all from Stopper Lures.
The mini spinner has one small hook and #0 blade. The best-colored blades were chartreuse or gold. Some of the better blades will have chartreuse on one side and gold or brass on the other. Tip this rig with a small red worm.
On the calm days, we found that when we dragged near the bottom the action was best. On the windy days, casting it and working it over and through the cabbage weeds worked well. If possible, go weightless. If a sinker is needed, one number seven split shot is best.
Action tails are hands down my favorite. Due to the shallow water and the numerous cabbage weeds there is a right way to rig and fish them and the wrong way. Trust me on this—I landed 13 fish before my partner landed one.
Go light, very light. I used two one sixty four ounce jig heads. I use the jig heads that come with the Whip R Snap tails. Tie one jig on about 18 inches up from the end of your line. Tie a loop so that your jig has the greatest movement. Tie the second jig on the end of your line.
Now comes the fun part. Place a Whip R Snap on one jig and a Whip R Shad on the other jig. These ultra-light jigs will flutter up and down and can be worked through the cabbage weeds.
A painstakingly slow retrieve is needed. Lift the jigs up and over a cabbage weed and then let it flutter to the bottom. Continue working the retrieve over and over. The majority of your fish will suck in your small jig when worked in this manner. Casting and reeling over the tops of the weeds only works when the fish are extremely aggressive. Dropping the lures into their face and teasing the fish results in many more fish.
The majority of your strikes will come on the fall. About the time that your jig disappears from view is when a hungry slab reaches up from the bottom and sucks it in.
The small rival worm is the junior bait to the original Bass Stopper Worm. This little worm with its mini front spinner lands big gills and specks. Fish it in the same manner as a jig. Work it over the tops of the weeds, drop it down in a helicopter fashion and slide it briefly over the bottom.
These three lures will land plenty of panfish from Labor Day until Halloween. Fish the tallest cabbage weeds in your lake and fish ever so slow. Watch your line and your rod tip and go as light as possible. Enjoy the fall fishing season.
For more information check out www.jackpaynejr.com or facebook outdoorsinmichigan.