There are literally thousands of various fishing lures in the world these days, but there’s nothing quite like the natural appeal of live bait. One such piece of live bait that has proven to be effective at catching species like bass and catfish is bluegill. In fact, Manabu Kurita, a Japanese fisherman, used a live bluegill to catch the current world record largemouth bass a few years ago. Today, you’ll learn some tips on how to use bluegill as live bait in different ways. Keep reading to learn more.

Using bluegill as bait is a tricky thing. For starters, you definitely can’t just grab a big gill off the stringer and cast it out. For the best effect, you’ll need to make sure the bluegill you use is small enough (below five inches) to appeal to a wide variety of bass. Make sure the bluegill is lively, as well, since bass will hone in on the natural movements of it and react in kind.

To rig the bluegill, use a large hook and hook the fish in the meat of its back, just below the dorsal fin. Without harming the fish’s organs, make sure the hook is secure. Hooking any organs will kill the fish rapidly and prevent it from moving naturally in the water.

There are also anglers who use cut gills as bait for catfish. Catfish prefer a lot of scent and cut bluegills can mean using two different tactics: cutting the gills up or bleeding them. When cutting up the gills, most use either the head or the body as their bait of choice. The head is good because it provides a solid anchor for hooks, while the midsection is filled with organs that emit a strong scent. Either way, each gill provides two opportunities for bait. To use bleeding, but live gills, rig them as you would for bass, but make a shallow cut along their body. This leaves a trail of blood in the water that catfish zero in on.

While using bluegill as bait is highly effective, you’ll want to make sure it’s permitted in your state before trying it out, as it’s banned in a few states. Either consult your local DNR website or office, or check the posted signs at the boat launch when you head out for the day. If allowed, spend a few moments on the water putting together a stringer of small gills and then head out. Bluegill are one of the most popular prey items for bass and other fish, so using one is a great way to fill the livewell the next time you hit the water.

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