Panfishing Great Now
Inside the Outdoors, August 30
, 2013

Before I get to the subject of the day, I happened to be talking to Dan Boelman, RN and BSN, who is customer service manager for Zanfel Laboratories, Inc. in Clive, Iowa. The subject at hand – poison ivy. I realize I did a column on this subject several weeks ago, but he forwarded me a folder on this plant with information that I believe is worth sharing. I was very much interested in the section “Myths vs. Fact.” There are four:

  • Myth: Poison ivy rash is contagious.
    Fact: Since poison ivy rash is an allergic reaction to urushiol (the toxin found in poison ivy, oak and sumac plants), the only ways to contract poison ivy are through direct contact with the plant; indirect contact by touching something that has urushiol on it (like a family pet or garden tool); or through airborne exposure to burning plants.

  • Myth: Scratching poison ivy blisters will spread the rash.
    Fact: The fluid in the blisters will not spread the rash. After the first five minutes to two hours following exposure, neither scratch nor skin-to-skin contact can spread the reaction. However, excessive scratching may cause infection because it allows bacteria from dirt on the hands to enter the skin.

  • Myth: Dead poison ivy plants are no longer toxic.
    Fact: Urushiol stays active on any surface, including dead plants, for up to five years in wet climates and up to nine years in dry climates.

  • Myth: Once allergic, always allergic to poison ivy.
    Fact: A person’s sensitivity changes over time, even from season to season. Sensitivity to poison ivy tends to decline with age, as the body’s immune system slows down.

Boelman suggested one visit the following Zanfel web pages to view the whole brochure (Brochure PDF) or for more information (Educational Resources.)

And now on to the subject of the day – panfishing. According to Wikipedia, “Panfish is an edible gamefish that usually doesn’t outgrow the size of a frying pan.” Two examples are sunfish and bluegill. I consider both, but especially the latter to be one of the best eating fish. Cooked in a mixture of olive oil and water touched off with a squirt of lemon, it is delectable.

A friend and I visited Lower and Upper Twin Lakes recently and found that the upper lake had much bigger bluegill than the lower. That’s not to say that the lower lake doesn’t have them as well, it’s just that both of us only caught small ones in prime areas.

Pennsylvania Outdoor News had a great article on panfishing in its recent publication. The authors, Ted Takasaki and Scott Richardson, contributing writers, brought out some interesting points and tips that one should follow to catch these fish.

One bait that caught my attention in this article was a composition of peanut butter and white bread. They say fish can’t resist that. As far as lures, they recommend Lindy rigs worked slowly along a weed edge.

I’m one of those writers who like to fish two hooks hung from a Styrofoam bobber. The hooks are spaced 12 to 18 inches apart. When I check to see where the fish hit, I can adjust my bobber and fish hopefully in a school where the bigger ones are found. Works super and usually results in a good meal.

Got a call from Latrobe’s carpmaster, Frank Miedel, who reported that he and his son, Jeff, have been catching some nice walleye in the Loyalhanna Creek a ways below the Loyalhanna Dam spillway. The creek is loaded with a great number of gamefish all the way down to and including the Allegheny River. Miedel told me he landed a beut – a 21- incher. Way to go, Frank!

Anglers, let me know what you are catching. Always happy to share success stories.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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