Bluegill Caught on Fly Rod

Panfish are the easiest to find type of fish in Missouri. Every fishable water in the state has some panfish, and it's unlikely that any Missourian lives more than 15 or 20 minutes from a pond, lake, or stream where these tasty little fish are found. This, combined with the fact that they are eager to the point of stupidity makes them the best fish for beginning anglers. That said, the larger of the panfish can provide a challenge to even experienced fisherman.

In Missouri, a panfish is in the sunfish family. Species commonly called panfish include bluegill, green sunfish, longear sunfish, Goggle-eye (Rock Bass), Pumpkinseed sunfish, Longear sunfish, and crappie. All of these species are also referred to by many Missouri anglers as perch. This is technically incorrect, but it's a commonly accepted term for the smaller sunfish in Missouri. All of these species are easy to catch, widespread, and plentiful. Bluegill and green sunfish are the most common.

Panfishing can be ridiculously simple. All one needs is a few small hooks, some split shot, and a couple bobbers. Match that with a small spinning rod and reel, and you're set. On the way to the water you are going to fish, buy a container of worms, or dig some up for yourself. Panfishing is one of the few types of fishing where all the equipment you need can be listed that quickly.

You can also employ more sophisticated methods. Panfish are a wonderful fly rod fish, and that is how I prefer to pursue them. They will take any wet fly #8-#16 with abandon. They also love to take generic dry flies in the #10-#14 range in the mornings and evenings . Panfish are the perfect species to perfect your fly fishing technique on-you'll have plenty of hook-up opportunities even with relatively poor technique. For the larger species (primarily crappie and goggle-eye) fisherman do very well on small crankbaits, spinners, and jigs.

Panfish are best taken in the spring, summer, and early fall. The best of the season in Missouri lasts from mid-April to early October, although there is usually some decent fishing in the earlier parts of spring and the latter parts of fall. Panfish are a cover loving species. Where you find brush piles, rock piles, or weed beds, you will find the panfish. Just drop your worm and bobber rig on the edge of a brush pile or weedbed, and you'll soon see the bobber go under and the line tighten.

Panfish are one of the most basic, easy to catch fish in our state. They are good species to introduce new fisherman to, but they can also be a great fly rod fish. However you prefer to target them, there are plenty of places to catch these feisty fellows in the Show-Me state.