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Bluegill Fishing

Biuegill FishBluegill is a variety of the sunfish family commonly associated with the American panfish – a collective name used by anglers to refer to a variety of fish species that are worthy quarries but are too small to qualify as game fish.  “Pan-size” are these fish but they are highly coveted for their meat.

The bluegill variety was very common in the eastern states of America. However, this favorite panfish has been introduced in ponds, lakes, rivers and creeks with weedy beds.  Bluegills are also known in North America as red-breasted bream, yellow perch, long-eared sunfish, white bass and other cross breeds indigenous to specific ponds and lakes.Bluegill generally spawn in shallow water but the larger variety prefers deeper water from 6 to 9 feet. They spawn in May when water temperature is around 20° Celsius or 68° Fahrenheit.  They prefer fairly murky or stained water than clear water.   They are apt to run in schools and gather where there is food.

Male bluegill guards its spawning nest and is noted for chasing off any fish that might approach. There are some anglers who prefer the excitement of catching male bluegill panfish guarding their nests.  This is not a major concern as the bluegill variety is quite prolific and more often than over populate its habitat.

fishing1Tips for Bluegill Fishing

A bed of spawning bluegills can be a flyrod fisherman’s dream. If the water is shallow enough, they will usually rise to hit poppers, especially in the evening. Otherwise wet flys or ultra-lite leadheads will take them from deeper beds.

Other names for bluegills include common yellow perch, sunfish, red-breasted bream, red-spotted sunfish, long-eared sunfish, white bass as well as a host of variations and cross breeds. These fish tend to run in schools and congregate near their food supply. Panfish can be found in depths of 35 feet or more and all the way up to the surface depending on the time of day and weather conditions. Bluegill spend the majority of their active time in 1 to 10 foot depths.

During spring and summer, bluegill become more aggressive because it’s spawning time.  When water temperature reaches 75° F, expect a peak in spawning activity. Spawning beds are built in shallow water close to the shore – about 2 to 6 feet deep.

Look for bluegill in areas along undercut banks, under fallen logs, near boat docks. There are ponds and lakes that have man-made “attractions” such as tire reefs as bluegill attractors.

At the end of summer, bluegill will move to deeper water.  However, it might pay to move back to shallow water periodically as there are bluegills that spawn twice in summer. Fish “slowly” as bluegill prefer aquatic insects that move slowly.

fishing1Fishing Gear for Bluegill

A light line dangling from a cane pole hooked with a worm is an archaic fishing gear. Simple and no fuss, many-a-childhood day bluegill were caught using the old cane pole.  The cane pole still works especially for small kids just learning to fish.

An angler is better off using a light tackle and line for bluegill fishing.  The most popular rod for bluegill anglers is an ultra-lite spinning rod fitted with small reels with a 2 to 4 pound-test monofilament line.  Fiberglass and graphite spinning rods and spin-cast rods and reels are preferred though there are anglers who prefer flyrod.

The use of lures and live bait is interchangeable. The favorite live bait is the fishworm. Since bluegill have small mouth, # 6 to 8 hooks with shanks are best especially if the fish swallowed the bait.

fishing1Where to Fish

The world record for bluegill is 4 lbs. In Iowa, the record is 3 lbs.  All species of panfish reproduce quickly that there is never a shortage of bluegill.  The major lakes in Iowa that have a huge bluegill population are:  Black Hawk Lake; DeSotto Bend Lake; Pleasant Creek Lake; Lake Manawa; Rock Creek Lake and more.

In Delaware try the  Becks Pond, Ingrams Pond and Andrews Lake.  In Nebraska, bluegill are in every pond, lake, river and reservoir like Lake Minatare, Red Willow Reservoir, Lewis and Clark Lake and more. In New Jersey Lake Hopatcong, Merrill Creek Reservoir, Wanaque Reservoir and Swartswood Lake offer great bluegill fishing.

In a nutshell, most lakes, ponds and rivers in North America contain bluegill panfish.