If you’re a fishing enthusiast, you’ve likely heard the term “panfish” before. But what is a panfish? In this beginner’s guide, we’ll explore the different types of panfish, the best ways to catch them, the benefits of eating them, and much more.
What is a Panfish?
A panfish is a term used to describe a group of freshwater fish species that are typically small and have a flattened body shape. The name “panfish” comes from the fact that these fish are often cooked in a frying pan.
Panfish are found in almost every body of freshwater in the united States. They are small in size and usually weigh between six and eight ounces, with some variation. The real variations in panfish come in their lengths – some panfish, like Bluegills, measure between 7 and 10 inches long while Shellcrackers can grow up to 17 inches. While other panfish are shorter in lakes where growth has been stunted.
Panfish can include members of other fish species like Sunfish. However, more simply put – if your fish can fit into a pan, it’s a panfish.
Why are they called panfish?
A fish is considered a panfish if it fits in a pan. The term first originated in the United States nearly 200 years ago – it quite literally meant a “fish that would fit into and be cooked in a pan”. It was first mentioned in the 1796 edition of “American Cookery” – one of the nation’s first-ever published cookbooks. Since 1901, however, panfish recipes have been a staple of the Whitehouse Cookbook.
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What are the Different Types of Panfish?
While it’s easy to look at the simpler naming convention as being the hard and fast rule as far as panfish go, there are a few species of fish that will almost always be considered ‘panfish’. These are Bluegill, Black & White Crappie, Redear Sunfish, Green Sunfish, Spotted & Redbreast Sunfishes, Pumpkinseed, Warmouth and Fliers.
What Other Species are Sometimes Called Panfish?
While not a part of the “core” group of Panfish, the following species are sometimes considered sunfish, but not panfish.
Is a Largemouth Bass a Panfish?
A largemouth bass is not usually considered a panfish. This is one of those instances where the rubber meets the proverbial road when it comes to panfish definition and nomenclature. The Largemouth Bass is a freshwater gamefish that belongs to the sunfish family and the smaller bass can fit in a pan, but generally not considered a panfish.
Is a Smallmouth Bass a Panfish?
No, a smallmouth bass is not considered a panfish. Again, it’s a case of the fish failing the biology test when it comes to the Smallmouth Bass. Technically, the smallmouth is considered to be a sunfish, and can certainly fit in a pan – though it is not widely considered to be a panfish.
Is a Trout a Panfish?
No, a trout is not a panfish. While you may think that Trout would fall under the ‘panfish’ umbrella, due to their size, weight and ability to fit into a frying pan. They are also not considered to be a panfish.
Are Bream panfish?
Most bream are considered to be panfish. In the U.S. a bream is a common name that encompasses larger sunfish species like Bluegill and Redear.
Is a Sunfish a Panfish?
Sunfish are generally considered to be panfish. Sunfishes are a family of ray-finned fish that are exclusive to North America. The Sunfish family features many different species of fish, including Largemouth & Smallmouth Bass.
In short: not all panfish are sunfish, and not all sunfish are panfish. Some are, and some aren’t. It depends on if they’ll pass the ‘pan test’.
Why are panfish so popular to catch
Panfish are popular among anglers due to their abundance in many bodies of water, ease of catching, and tasty flesh. They’re also a popular species for beginners to target, as they’re relatively easy to catch with basic gear and techniques.
Where Can You Find Panfish?
While I just mentioned that panfish live in abundance in a great many lakes and rivers in the United States, there are a few places where they’re most prevalent.
- Crappie are most commonly found in the Lake in the Woods – a huge lake system that straddles the Minnesota/Ontario border with over 65,000 miles of shoreline and 14,500 islands.
- Bluegill is most commonly found in the waters of Florida.
- Warmouth is typically in many bodies of still, fresh water throughout the US, from FL down to NM.
- Fliers are typically found in Florida in many bodies of water all across the state from north to south.
What kind of Gear Do You Need for Panfishing?
If you’re looking to get into pan fishing, there are a few reasonably essential gear items. You’re going to need a good ultralight fishing rod paired with a solid ultralight reel. You’re going to need hooks, lures, weights, and if you want to keep some to eat, a cooler. You can see a full list in our ultralight fishing guide.
What Hook and Bait is Best for Panfish?
1/64 oz Mule Jig
Fortunately, no matter what your budget is, you’ll likely find something that’ll work to catch a panfish. However, we recommend a hook/bait combination of Mule Jigs and a Donkey Tail Jr. for catching most panfish.
Donkey Tail Jr.
What is a Good Panfish Kit?
Leland’s Lures Panfish Magnet Kit
In our experience with panfishing, we’ve found Leland’s Lures Panfish Magnet Kit to be among the best kits for panfishing. It comes with 70 grub bodies in a variety of colors targeted for panfish, and hooks making it one of the best all in one kits to start panfishing.
What is a Good Panfish Rod?
13 Fishing Defy Silver Ultralight Rod
One of the best panfish rods out there is the 13 Fishing Defy Silver rod. Available between five and seven feet long, and in one or two-piece sets, these rods straddle the line between being hearty enough to pull out something heavy, but not so heavy as to be problematic to handle. These Fast Action rods have line ratings of between 2-6 and 4-8 lbs, and either 1/32 – 3/32oz or 1/16 – 14oz.
What is a Good Panfish Reel?
You already know the Shimano Sienna is one of our favorite budget friendly reels. This excellent reel reduces wind knots and allows for longer casting by incorporating their Propulsion Line Management system. This high-performance reel also features their Super Stopper II to aid in reversing.At just 0.27kg, it’s the perfect lightweight introductory panfish reel for panfishers young and old.
Are Panfish Good to Eat?
Panfish belong, well, in the frying pan! They’re fantastic fish to eat and easy to filet. Crappie is our favorite panfish, but Bluegill remains a close second, drizzle with some lemon and dill for a classic flavorful fish. You’d be best to deep-fry these babies whole!
Whether you’re a new angler or just looking to have fun catching a ton of fish, panfish are the fish to do it. Go enjoy the outdoors and start catching some panfish!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the average size of a panfish?
The average size of a panfish is typically less than a pound, although larger individuals can be found.
Are there different types of panfish?
Yes, there are several different types of panfish, including bluegill, crappie, and perch.
What is the best time of day to fish for panfish?
The best time of day to fish for panfish is typically during the early morning or late afternoon.
What is considered panfish?
Panfish are generally small, freshwater fish that are suitable for cooking and eating. Examples include bluegill, crappie, and perch.
Is crappie considered a panfish?
Yes, crappie is considered a panfish. It is a type of freshwater fish that is typically small and suitable for cooking and eating.
What is the difference between a crappie and a panfish?
Crappie is actually a type of panfish, so there isn’t really a difference between the two. However, some people may use the term “panfish” to refer to a wider range of small, freshwater fish.
What panfish are good to eat?
Bluegill, crappie, and perch are all popular panfish that are good to eat. Other examples include sunfish, pumpkinseed, and rock bass.
Are catfish considered a panfish?
Catfish are not typically considered a panfish. They are generally larger fish even though they are suitable for cooking and eating.
Are panfish bottom feeders?
Panfish are not necessarily bottom feeders. Some types of panfish, such as bluegill, may feed on the surface of the water or near the shoreline.
What is the biggest panfish ever caught?
The biggest panfish ever caught is a matter of debate, as there are many different types of panfish. However, some of the largest panfish ever caught include bluegill that weigh over 4 pounds and crappie that weigh over 5 pounds.
Why do they call bluegill panfish?
Bluegill are called panfish because they are small, round fish that are typically cooked and eaten whole. They are often cooked in a pan, hence the name “panfish.”
Is perch a panfish?
Yes, perch is considered a panfish. It is a type of freshwater fish that is small and suitable for cooking and eating.
Bluegill vs Sunfish – What Is The Difference
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Perch vs Bluegill – What Is The Difference
Learn the key differences between Perch vs Bluegill in our blog post. Find out which one makes the better catch for your next fishing trip