Fishing with Noble: The Fun of Pan Fishing

Fishing with Noble / Noble Smith

By pan fish, I mean a small fish caught that will fit in a frying pan. My brother, Jim, reminded me of this term recently. He was fishing near the bridge at Riverside Park. He caught a nice 10-inch trout using salmon eggs. At first I thought we should throw the fish back. My brother replied, “No, that’s a perfect pan size.” He was right; it would fit right into a frying pan. We decided to barbecue it instead, which is also a great way to cook smaller fish.

Along with all the years of catch-and-release bass fishing, I have forgotten how much fun pan fishing could be. This season has been great for crappie, bluegill and trout. All three species of pan fish make a great meal when cooked up in a frying pan.

Bobber fishing is a fun way to fish for crappie or bluegill. It’s also a great way to keep the young kids’ attention longer. They seem to focus on a bobber better than a rod tip. When that bobber moves or goes underwater, kids really get excited. Knowing a fish is the reason the bobber is moving adds to the excitement.
It’s very simple to set up. All you need is a light action rod and reel with 4- to 6-pound line, size #6 or #8 hook, and bait. Meal worms, red worms, a piece of night crawler, and even a salmon egg are all good baits for a pan fish.

Start off with 24 inches from bobber to hook. It’s very easy to adjust the bobber up or down for a different leader length. You can also add a BB split shot between the bobber and hook to sink the bait below the bobber.

Find some shoreline structure and make a short cast. A lot of pan fish will be close to shore relating to brush or rocks. Sit back and enjoy the scenery and keep an eye on that colorful bobber. Even us old-timers get excited when it goes under. Not only is pan fishing great fun for the whole family, it also provides some great healthy eating. The kids will really enjoy eating something they help put on the table.

Bass fishing has still been pretty good. At the last ABA bass tournament, the wind was very strong. Some very tough fishermen decided to fish anyway. A couple drove all night just to fish Isabella Lake for the first time. I was impressed with all of the fishermen. The wind blew all day long, and it was an 8-hour tournament. It took over 20 pounds for five fish to win the tournament.

My partner Ray and I tried to fish the tournament. The wind was just too strong for us to run the main lake. My weak back forced us off the water halfway through the tournament. Our club tournament on June 9 was canceled due to high winds. It seems this season has been plagued with wind, especially on tournament day. The club open tournament is scheduled for July 14.
Hopefully, we will have some calm days in the near future. June and July are great months to fish bass on Isabella Lake. The water temps are warm enough to make bass very active. Top water baits in the morning and soft plastics during the day are my favorite way to fish bass this time of year.

Another great summer fishing adventure is the upper Kern and its tributaries. When temps in the valley start getting close to the century mark, it’s a good time to head north. The further up river you go, the cooler it gets. Also, a lot more trees for shade to be found.

Water should be flowing pretty good right now in the tributary creeks flowing into the Kern. As long as the water is flowing well, the creeks should be stocked. Along with the native trout, fishing should be good this time of year.

The flow of the main Kern is starting to slow down. Flows well below 1,000 CFS create a lot more fishing holes. I like to fish the pools below a rapid. I throw my spinner into the white water and retrieve it as it approaches the calm water. The fish are waiting there facing up river for the current to bring food down to them. I have caught a ton of fish doing that.

Some of the great things I like about fishing the upper Kern: There are miles of fishing. You can jump from one spot to another. There is always great scenery. Something about the sound of the river is very soothing. If you get too hot, you can take a dip and instantly cool down. The best thing of all is that there is nothing like a pan fried trout.

See you on the water.