Catching Bluegill

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All were skilled. All were, pound for pound, rough, rugged and ready. But none enjoyed the same degree of notoriety as their larger, heavier, brawnier counterparts. The bluegill can understand. Despite being common and widespread — or perhaps because of it — the fish is taken for granted.

Catching Bluegills in Pennsylvania as Autumn Approaches

They just don't want to admit it. Big bluegills — the largest, oldest, most world-wise specimens in a given population — can be just as wary as any other trophy catch. A 9-incher might only weigh half a pound, but it will be almost 8 years old, on average, according to some Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission data.

Bluegill Photo Gallery. Click on photos below to enlarge:

To get one on your line takes some special thinking. Like bass or any other game fish, they have seasonal patterns. Once near-shore water temperatures hit about 70 degrees, bluegills start to spawn.

Bluegill Fishing 101: How To Catch Bluegill

They excavate shallow, dinner plate-shaped nests near the bank. They'll be obvious. But if you're after big fish rather than sheer numbers, it pays to expand your thinking, McCaw said. Sometimes that means moving away from shore, especially after the spawn ends, he said. They just cruise.

Become a better fisherman

According to Fish and Boat Commission catch data, fishermen land as many bluegills per hour in June as at any time of year. June is the peak month on reservoirs acres and larger, while August is the top time for lakes between 50 and River action picks up a little later, with September accounting for more catches than any other month.

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Not necessarily. But the more bluegills you reel in, the greater the chance one of them will be special, right? Mention fishing for bluegills and most people probably immediately think of dangling a red worm or nightcrawler below a bobber. That takes fish, for sure. But when targeting the biggest of bluegills in particular, other presentations are better. He prefers something 1- to 2-inches long.

Sunfish: Tips for Bluegill Fishing | MDC Hunting and Fishing

Sometimes that means a crankbait like a Yo-Zuri snap bean. More often he uses a soft plastic bait, tipped with Crappie Nibbles if it's not already scented, on 4-pound monofilament or 6-pound Berkley NanoFil line. Greg Martin of McElhatten, director of the Northeast Panfish League, a Pennsylvania-based tournament trail, also likes bigger, unusual baits.

He fishes jigs that he and friends tie and often uses more than one at a time.

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  6. Best fishing is often near shorelines, docks, or other structures at depths from the near surface to 3—4 feet. Light line and tackle are the best to catch more fish and provide the most fun. The favorite live bait is a nightcrawler, while artificial lures, such as leadhead jigs with a twister tail or a grub, can be equally effective. The savvy bluegill fisherman can borrow from the fly-fishing tackle box and use small poppers with a small float set the float 4 feet from the lure for added fun. While males are on the nest, they are aggressive and will strike at any lure or bait that fall into the nest. Be careful though, it is easy to remove a huge number of males from a colony and their fry will not survive without the protection of a male. Bluegill are also lots of fun on a fly-rod and an excellent way for the rookie fly-fisherman to gain skills.

    How to Catch Clean Cook Bluegill! Awesome bluegill bait and bluegill recipe

    Bluegill will usually rise to hit poppers, and wet flies or ultra-lite flies will tease them out of deeper areas. Bluegill can be found across the state of Illinois and are in nearly every water body. Bluegill prefer clear lakes and ponds with adequate aquatic vegetation or other structural features wood or rocks to avoid predation by other fish, but can also be found in swamps, creek pools, and small to large rivers. While they prefer warm waters, bluegill will move to deeper, cooler waters when temperatures rise.

    Adult Bluegill are less susceptible to predation and thus are able to utilize more habitat types and show no preference between vegetated and open water areas.