by Tim Moore
Warm water fish such as crappie, perch, bluegill, largemouth, and smallmouth bass all head for shallow water in the spring to spawn. Length of daylight is a driving force, but water temperature is the real driving force. The shallow waters that many panfish use to spawn are often too shallow to reach in a boat, making kayaks the perfect way to target spring panfish. This time of year I can often be found drifting around the shallows, and my favorite way to catch spring panfish is with a slip-bobber setup.
A slip bobber is a bobber that you thread your line through. A bead and a knotted piece of line tied in a knot called a bobber stop-knot are used to set and adjust the depth of your lure. The idea is to be able to vertically jig over shallow water, but to do it from a distance. Nothing takes me back to my days as a kid catching sunfish with a worm and bobber.
Old pieces of braided line make great slip-bobber stop-knots. Stop-knots can be tied by first cutting 6” pieces of braided line. You can tie stop-knots one at a time by laying the stop-knot line against the main line of your fishing rod. Tie a single uni-knot around the main line and pull the tag ends tight. Trim the tag ends of your stop-knots leaving them ½” to 1” long so you can re-tighten it throughout your fishing trip. If you wish to have extra stop-knots on hand you can tie several individual stop-knots around a drinking straw. Then you simply slide a pre-tied knot over the end of your line. Once you have a stop-knot in place, thread a small bead onto your line, followed by your slip-bobber. The bead protetcts the knot from rubbing against the bottom of the bobber and becoming frayed. Finally, tie on your chosen jig and slide the stop-knot up or down your line to set your depth.
Slip-bobber fishing from a kayak in early spring is a fun and effective way to fish the shallows for panfish. It offers anglers the chance to dust off the cobwebs with some relaxing, low-pressure fishing. You can begin fishing as soon as there is enough water to float your kayak. I can assure you that you’ll be the envy of many boat-owning anglers who are chomping at the bit to get out and fish.
Tim Moore is a professional fishing guide in New Hampshire. He owns and operates Tim Moore Outdoors, LLC, offering NH kayak fishing charters and Lake Winnipesaukee ice fishing charters. He is a member of the New England Outdoors Writers Association and the producer of Tim Moore Outdoors TV. Visit www.TimMooreOutdoors.com for more information.