Panfish Fishing In Washington For 2024
Guide to fishing for panfish, sunfish, perch and bluegill in lakes and ponds.
2024 Pan Fish Fishing Options
Bluegill Fishing Basics Video
The core principles shown in this video will work for most sunfish, perch and other panfish.
What Are Panfish?
Sunfish and panfish are terms encompassing various freshwater species like bluegill, sunfish, and perch. Panfish are opportunistic feeders, consuming a diverse array of prey. Their diets commonly consist of aquatic insects, small crustaceans, and even smaller fish. However, different species of sunfish preferences may shift based on seasonal variations and local conditions. During warmer months, when insect activity is high, panfish tend to focus more on insects and larvae. As temperatures drop, they may switch to feeding on smaller fish, worms or crustaceans.
Types Of Panfish
Mostly from the sunfish family, panfish that we cover in this website include bluegill, eight species of sunfish, rock bass, white and yellow bass, and white and yellow perch. Panfish are prolific spawners and repopulate the waters as fast as they are harvested.
Bluegill, perch and sunfish generally range from less than half a pound to over 4 or 5 pounds at world-record size. The world record for tilapia is over 9 pounds.
Fishing For Panfish
Sunish are eager feeders, making them an excellent target for youth fishing outings. The most popular method is using ultralight tackle, such as light rods and small reels, paired with tiny hooks and light line - ideally 2-6-pound.
Annually, panfish exhibit predictable movement patterns influenced mostly by water temperature and spawning instincts. As temperatures rise in spring, panfish migrate from deeper waters towards shallow areas, where they spawn. This migration provides anglers with prime opportunities to catch panfish, as they tend to congregate in large numbers. At this time, they will be found in shallow bays, spawning beds, or near submerged vegetation. In summer and winter they drop into deeper water.
Pan Fish Baits And Lures
Baits like live worms, insect larvae, and small minnows are commonly used to entice bites. Tiny jigs, spinners, soft plastics, and prepared baits are also effective. Miniature size is important to mimic the delicate feeding habits of freshwater panfish. A small bobber or float can be attached to the line to suspend the bait at a desired depth. Experiment with colors and sizes to match the preferences of the targeted species.
Common Sunfish Species In Washington
One of the easiest fish to catch, all types of bluegill are eager to take most types of sunfish bait and lures. They are sight feeders and prefer slightly stained water with little or no current. Bluegill tend to run in schools and congregate near their food supply. These aggressive eaters can survive in most warm-water fisheries, preferring water temperatures ranging from 60° to 85°. Ideal hook sizes are #6 to #10.
Another species that adds variety to panfish fishing in the state is the green sunfish. While they may not be as numerous as bluegill, they are still sought after by many anglers. The green sunfish is native to lakes and ponds and prefers areas with heavy vegetation or other cover. Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 8 to size 12 hook.
Shaped much like a pumpkin seed, it often has body coloring similar to a pumpkin color. The favorite habitat of the pumpkinseed sunfish is weed-covered lake bottoms in preferably clear water. They thrive in warmer water temperatures ranging from mid seventies to low eighties. Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 8 to size 12 hook.
Native to the eastern half of the USA, the rock bass is good eating and fun to catch. You can find rock bass in streams and rivers where they prefer clear water with rocky bottom and vegetation. The rock bass, aka goggle-eye, green sunfish and sometimes branch perch, prefers water temperatures from 64 to 72 degrees., Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 8 to size 12 hook.
The warmouth sunfish has a larger mouth than most sunfish and can eat larger prey. Adult warmouths feed on insects, mollusks, minnows and small fish. They prefer sandy bottoms of quiet areas in creeks, streams and rivers. They look for heavy vegetation to use as cover. Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 6 to size 10 hook.
Yellow perch are found in ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers, ideally in clear water near vegetation. They are often misnamed as perch, rock perch and many other names. Their primary diet consists of minnows and other small fish, insects and worms. Yellow perch prefer water temperatures from 66 to 70 degrees but remain active in temperatures outside this range. They are a favorite of many ice fishing enthusiasts.
Panfish fishing in Washington is a great way to introduce kids to the joys of fishing. The small size of these fish makes them perfect for small anglers. Their willingness to bite ensures a positive experience for young anglers. Taking kids fishing is a great investment in their future. With numerous youth fishing events and family-friendly locations across the state, panfish fishing in Washington is a fantastic way to create lasting memories and foster a love for the outdoors in the next generation of anglers.
Best Panfish, Bluegill, Sunfish & Perch Lakes In 2024
Panfish are somewhere in the middle of the food chain in most fishing waters. Most predator fish delight in a nice sunfish for dinner. And, in the warmer waters they are pretty much everywhere. You can find them in ponds, parks, small lakes and rivers. The Columbia River has a nice population of panfish. They also populate many of the major lakes including Alder Lake, Banks Lake, Lake Bryan, Lake Mayfield, Lake Sammamish, Lake Umatilla, Lake Wallula, Lake Washington, Lake Whatcom, Moses Lake, Palmer Lake, Potholes Reservoir, Riffe Lake, Rock Lake, Roosevelt Lake, Silver Lake and Vancouver Lake.
Perch Fishing Lakes In Washington
Alder Lake, Banks Lake, Lake Sammamish, Lake Tapps, Lake Umatilla, Lake Washington, Lake Whatcom, Moses Lake, Osoyoos Lake, Ozette Lake, Palmer Lake, Potholes Reservoir, Rock Lake, Roosevelt Lake, Rufus Woods Lake, Silver Lake and Vancouver Lake. Snelsons Slough produced the Washington state record yellow perch.
Washington State Fish Records
World record: 4 lbs 12 oz
State Record: 2.33 lbs
World record: 2.2 lbs
State Record: 0.79 lbs
World record: 2 lbs 4 oz
State Record: 1.09 lbs
World record: 3.0 lbs
State Record: 1.38 lbs
World record: 2.4 lbs
State Record: 0.53 lbs
World record: 4 lbs 3 oz
State Record: 2.75 lbs
Click the images and links above for species details.
The state record bluegill was taken out of Tampico Park Pond.
The state record green sunfish was caught from Bailey Lake.
Lake Terrell produced the state record pumpkinseed sunfish.
The state record rock bass was caught from Steilacoom Lake.
The state record warmouth was caught from Silver Lake.
The state record yellow perch was caught from Snelson's Slough.
Sunfish fishing information in other states.
Learn the lifecycle of a panfish
There is a host of panfish anglers can pursue. Visit the panfish fishing page for details on many of these sunfish you might encounter in Washington fishing waters.