How To Keep Bait Lively
Panfish experts agree that fresh, lively bait is vital for panfishing success. Keep minnows cool and well-aerated in your boat's livewell or in a bucket with an aerator pump. Night crawlers should be kept cool and moist in a container packed with worm bedding or moss. Crickets should be kept out of direct sunlight in a screened container; they'll stay hoppin' fresh if you feed them some moist bread scraps between fishing trips.
Use Lighweight Jigs
Small soft-plastic jigs are tremendous lures for all species of panfish, but don't use one that's too heavy. Start with a light (1/32 to 1/16 oz.) leadhead — this will have a slow, enticing fall, just like an injured minnow. White, pink and chartreuse are proven colors. Cast them around shallow wood cover and swim them back to the boat with a slow, steady retrieve. If fish happen to be deep, or if the wind picks up, switch to a heavier jig. Store panfish jigs in a multi-sectioned clear plastic utility box and write their weight on the lid above each section with a waterproof marker.
Twist Tail Rule
Arguably the most productive (and least expensive) artificial lure for all panfish varieties is the soft plastic twist-tail grub.
Worms are a good bait for bluegills — so good, in fact, that you'll go through scores of worms in no time unless you economize. Once you've attracted a large school of 'gills to your fishing area, use progressively smaller bits of worm on your hook — these panfish are competitive, and when there's a school present, they'll readily bite even the tiniest chunk of worm the instant it hits the water.