Summer Panfish Tips: Bluegill

As an angler, I’m grateful for the knowledge and advice that I’ve gleaned from other fishermen throughout the years. I’ve learned a lot about several different tactics and species and, believing in giving more than receiving, I’m always more than willing to share what I’ve learned with others, especially new anglers or children. That being said, we continue our series on summer panfish today by spotlighting bluegill and some ways you can fill the cooler with them for a weekend fish fry.

Bluegill may not have the same size mouths as perch or crappie, but it doesn’t mean they won’t strike hard baits. Underspin baits are great for summer gills and one of my favorite ones to use is the Road Runner. The reason such baits work well is because fish look up at them and the flash of the blade imitates the active gills of feeding baitfish. When you’re searching for fish, I suggest throwing a 1/6 ounce Runner to cover water fast. Once you find the gills, switch to a lighter lure (1/32 ounce), which will help slow things down a little, especially when you’re fishing shallow water.

The first places I target when I’m trying to find gills in the summer are stumps and weeds with a defined edge. Vertical cover tends to be a popular hideout for gills, since it offers greater protection from predators. Stumps are great for this and weed beds tend to hold a variety of bugs and minnows—perfect forage for holding gills.

When you’re fishing a Road Runner, you’ll need to lower your rod tip as the lure approaches to keep it in the strike zone for as long as possible. Furthermore, bluegill are notorious for striking a lure and then turning around to strike it again. When this happens, lower your rod tip and continue the retrieve, don’t recast your lure. Nine times out of ten, you’ll capitalize on the return strike and pull in another gill for the cooler.

Road Runners will be your best friends this summer if you’re targeting bluegill, so bring a ton of them along on your next trip. Find those stumps and weed beds and don’t be afraid to lose a few lures getting hooked onto the stumps. Someone once told me that if you’re not losing a lure or two then you’re not fishing in the right spots. Good luck to you this summer and I hope the tips outlined above help you stock up for a fish fry real soon!