Panfish Ontario |

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Ontario's waters grow a variety of panfish, including, sunfish, bluegill, bullheads, rock bass, and more. They're the perfect summer fish for kids of all ages.

Black crappie travel in schools during the summer and winter. Open-water anglers get their first crack at them as ice clears from backwaters in April or early May and the fish move inshore to feed. Top spots include man-made boat cuts and canals and shallow bays with cover (wood, weeds, docks). More fish move in by late May and June to spawn. In summer, the fish are along deep weedlines or suspended farther out. They'll hit during the day, especially during overcast weather, but morning and evening are prime times. Black crappie and other panfish will take small live minnows, spinners, panfish jigs, mini-crankbaits, and streamer flies.

Perch are more bottom-oriented than crappie. Light slip-sinker rigs or split shot and a hook with a worm or small minnow are all you need to catch them. Panfish jigs, cast or hung under a slip-float, are also effective.

Ontario's record catch
Temperature and habitat: Spawn in shallow, weedy areas when water temperatures reach 68°F (20°C), usually May through June.
Biology: Males guard eggs and fry. For much of the year, they suspend offshore, but move to the edge of weedlines, points, or shoals, or rise to the surface to feed in low-light conditions.
Range: Lower Northwestern Ontario, the Great Lakes and connecting waterbodies to Georgian Bay and the North Channel. Spreading inland north to Parry Sound through connecting systems such as the Rideau and Trent-Severn waterways.

Ontario's record catch
Average size: To .75 lb (.34 kg).
Temperature and habitat: Summer habitat ranges from weedy areas to rock/sand/rubble shoals to mossy mud flats, but perch occasionally suspend to follow forage. Preferred water temperature is 68°F (20°C).
Biology: Spawn in early spring, scattering eggs in shallow water around vegetation and submerged wood.
Range: All of Ontario roughly south of James Bay and the Upper Albany River.

Two men admiring a recent catch.


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Young girl holding up a fish.


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