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Thinking spring? Nah, think panfish

Panfish activity perks up as days get longer and snow melt starts recharging area lakes. It's easier to be mobile in search of sunfish, crappies or perch. Tribune file photo

WILLMAR -- Feeling bruised by this week's winter storm and plunge in temperatures?

Take advantage of it by making the most of the extended ice fishing season it allows. With temperatures expected to top 40 degrees this weekend and good, solid ice still atop area lakes, no time is better than now to pursue panfish.

The panfish bite on area lakes has been sporadic through much of the late winter, but it typically picks up as longer days and snow melt starts to trigger more underwater activity.

And, there are some signs of life out there. Diamond Lake has been lighting up a lot Vexilars this winter, said Tim Damm, Atwater Bait and Tackle.

Damm reported that the southwest corner of the lake has been putting out a lot of perch during the daylight hours, and nice-sized ones at that. One group of fishermen tossed a total of 80 in their bucket last Sunday, the smallest at nine inches and the biggest at 14 inches.

Crappies are most active just before and after sundown. The northwest and northeast sides of Green Lake have seen some good, evening crappie bites a few weeks ago, and could turn on again.

Norway is always a winter favorite for crappies. It's not exactly gang busters right now, but the crappie bite there has been "okay," according to what anglers have been willing to share at Pete's Surplus. Both Norway and Andrew will also give up decent-sized sunfish to those who work for them.