The Patron "Saint" of Panfish Anglers
of river to see today."
As we drifted through the next pool, we threw to bankside cover. In the floatable stretches of the river, many of the pools are several hundred yards long, and the current is slow. Each pool is like fishing a pond - a pond with prime cover along both sides.
I caught several longear sunfish in the first pool. Adult longears average only about 5 inches long, but Victor told me to put them on ice. They yield small but tasty fillets. Victor caught another green sunfish. At the end of the hole next to a submerged log, I caught two bluegill, each about 6-inches long.
In the next pool, Victor pulled the canoe alongside a downed sycamore, the crown of which lay submerged in deep water. He dipped the plastic grub among the limbs and pulled out an 8-inch white crappie. While he unhooked the fish and put it in the cooler, I caught a white crappie about the same size. We sat at that tree for about 30 minutes and caught a half dozen other crappie, a mix of blacks and whites, all about the same size.
Victor said our success was about average for a day of panfishing on the St. Francis.
"Some days the action is faster; some days it's slow," Victor said. "But almost always, you can come off the river with a good mess of panfish."
Victor said his favorite strategy for catching panfish on the St. Francis is to cast or jig a slider grub threaded on a 1/32-ounce, horsehead jig equipped with a small spinner. Any small jig setup or Beetle Spin works well, but Victor prefers slider grubs.
For casting, he uses medium-weight tackle with 4- or 6-pound test line. For jigging, he uses a 12-foot collapsible jigging pole equipped with a small spinning reel and 10-pound test line. The heavy line lets him straighten out hooks that get snagged while fishing. It also provides leverage to work larger fish.
Whenever we found good cover, we spent 20 to 30 minutes at the spot before moving. Victor said on longer floats, or when he combines overnight camping with float-fishing, he lingers longer at spots that produce fish.
"When the fish