Catching Bluegill 101

The bluegill may be the most commonly sought-after panfish in the world. Native to the United States, they have been commonly stocked in many lakes and rivers around the world with suitable conditions. As they get their name, panfish such as bluegill are fine-tasting fish, easily gutted, scaled, and fried on a pan. They also make great sport though too. Perfect targets on an ultralight rod or fly fishing tackle, they can be a ton of fun to catch because of their aggression and strong fighting abilities.


When to Find Bluegill

Being bound with their freshwater domains, bluegills can be found 365 days a year. The trick however is to know where to find them, discussed in the following section. Depending on the climate you live, bluegill spawn from late spring all the way through summer, where the males guard eggs in beds like all other sunfishes do. This is the best time to find them close to shore and hungry as ever.

Where to Catch Bluegill

Bluegill generally change their location based on water temperatures in the lakes and rivers. On the warmer days, the fish will be in shallow vegetated areas early in the morning and late in the evenings, while they will be in deeper waters during the middle of the afternoon to reach some cooler water. On colder days, the pattern is the opposite – they spend a lot of their time offshore in deep waters because the water temperatures are more stable there, but travel into the shallow vegetative areas during the middle of the day when the shallow water heats up enough for them. Of note is when the fish are spawning, the beds, or nests, they guard will be in shallow water near vegetation.

Bluegill fishing in shallow water.

Tackle for Bluegill

The tackle used for bluegill is light and fast. Bluegill are fairly small fish, generally in the range of 6 and 10 inches in length, so you don’t need large gear to catch them. Furthermore, using as light as gear possible makes catching them loads of fun, and plenty challenging for good sport.

Bluegill Spinning Tackle

Spinning tackle is the most commonly used gear for bluegill. Coming in a variety of sizes, one of the most popular methods of catching panfish is using ultralight gear – rods and reels capable of holding as small as 2-pound test line! This makes casting small lures and baits farther easier, and also makes catching small bluegill good sport and lots of fun. It also gives you a lot more sensitivity in the line so that you can feel the bite quickly.

Cane Poles for Bluegill

Cane poles may look silly to some, but are one of the most effect methods for taking bluegill. One of their best uses is for fishing hard to reach spaces. For example, when a tree falls near a steep bank along a river or lake, there is often a deep hole between the bank and the tree – bluegill love to hang out in there. A long cane pole will let you reach into that pocket by dropping your bait straight down, minimizing the risk of getting snagged on the tree as you reel past it.

Flyrods for Bluegill

A flyrod is one of the most effective gears at catching bluegill. Looking at the diet of bluegill – primarily insects and their larvae – it is a perfect situation to use small flies mimicking insects. A good setup would be around 4-or-5 weight, allowing you to cast a little ways away, while keeping the action fun using a lighter reel and line.

Fly rod for catching bluegill.

Baits for Bluegill

Bluegill are easy to catch on baits. If you’re in the right spot, you can’t even count to five before a fish is on. The best baits include small worms, of course a variety of small insects – crickets, grasshoppers, etc., hotdogs, and doughballs. For the most part, you can sort through a patch of grass near water and find plenty of small green grasshoppers to use as bait, but if you want a lot of bait, your local freshwater bait and tackle shop should have plenty of small worms and crickets. Hotdogs and doughballs are the easiest to use – simply pinch a piece off and put it on the hook. Baits are best used under a bobber, but can also be free-lined.

Lures for Bluegill

When it comes to sport, many fine lures work great for bluegill. Some of the most effective lures are the tiny soft plastic grubs with curly tails. Others that work well include small spinnerbaits like beetle-spins, and tiny jigs. Of course, one of the best lures out there is a good fly. The one thing that all of these lures have in common is that they’re small, and usually look like a worm or insect. Most of these lures come pre-weighted, and can be fished either free-lined or under a bobber to keep it from getting snagged if the bottom has a lot of debris.

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