Five of the South’s Greatest Panfish Spots

Plus, the best bait for each location

In the South, bluegills, shellcrackers, and other panfish are serious business. These lakes are known for producing big bream—pardon me, brim.

Reelfoot Lake

Reelfoot Lake
Popeye Feather JigCliff Gardiner & John Keller

The bluegill spawn goes on all summer long on Tennessee's most famous lake, making it the premier hotspot for panfish nuts. Dabbing tiny jigs amid the cypress is a sure way to fill a cooler. Go-To Lure: Popeye Feather Jig.

Lake Ouachita

lake ouachita
Live CricketEmmanuel Lattes/Almay

Expect to catch a mix of bluegills and redears out of the deep, clear water in this scenic reservoir. Target island weedbeds, or ditch the summer crowds by slipping into one of the lake's many quiet coves. Go-To Rig: Drop-shot with a live cricket.

Chickamauga Lake

Chickamauga Lake
Red wiggler on a No. 2 Aberdeen hookAnnete/Almay

Shellcrackers here are big and plentiful, thanks to an abundance of snails. Concentrate your efforts on weedbeds, stump-covered flats, and other structure in water 5 to 6 feet deep. Go-To Bait: Red wiggler on a No. 2 Aberdeen hook.

Arkabutla Lake

arkabutla lake
Road Runner Crappie ThunderCliff Gardiner & John Keller

This lake in northwest Mississippi is one of the nation's best for pan-size crappies. Find the old river channel running off Hernando Point, where deep structure holds big slabs in summer. Go-To Lure: Road Runner Crappie Thunder.

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