Bluegill are one of the most well-known fish in the water today. Their great taste makes them a popular target throughout the year and they’re pretty much the first species most anglers can remember catching when they were young. Many fishermen limit their bluegill search to farm ponds and other smaller bodies of water, they’re actually abundant in bigger lakes and reservoirs, as well, and are a fun light tackle alternative when the bigger fish just won’t bite. Because they’re commonly ignored in larger waters, the gills found there can grow to big sizes, and today we’ll take a look at how to catch the big boys.
This is the time of year for big gills, but you need to know where to look. They’ll be spawning now, so a good place to start your search is the back of a cove or tributary arm. Polarized sunglasses will help you locate spawning beds near the shoreline, which look like little craters on the bottom. If the fish aren't spawning anymore, find them in the shade beneath overhanging trees and boat docks, or near submerged logs and weed patches in two to eight feet of water.
When it comes to rigging up for big gills, the rig you go with will depend on what kind of experience you want. For instance, if you want nonstop action and don’t care about fish size, then live bait is the way to go. A few fat crickets on a long-shank panfish hook, fished around three feet beneath a small bobber, will do a great job. Once you locate a school of bluegill, pinch a split shot just above the hook to get the bait into the strike zone quicker.
For big bull bluegill, small artificials like Beetle Spins and Road Runners, will do the job. If you’re fishing shallow spawning beds, 1/8oz is a good size, but go with ¼oz for exploring the deeper waters beneath docks. Both of these lures produce flash and vibration that are sure to trigger strikes from goliath gills, and they’re easy to use; cast them past your target and slow roll them back to the boat. I like to use lighter tackle, like a 5 ½ to six-foot light action spinning combo with four to six-pound line. Sometimes it’s better to go with six, just in case you get a big crappie or bass on the line.
With a high daily limit and delicious taste, bluegill have been one of the most sought-after species throughout the years. Don’t limit yourself to small ponds this season if you’re seeking them, though. Head to prime spots in bigger waters and you’ll find big gills lying in wait to strike your lures!