Fun to catch and even more fun to eat, bluegill is a panfish that can make the difference between eating fish or eating tree bark for dinner during an otherwise well-planned fishing trip. But be prepared. Bluegills are not very big.
In fact, you are going to be rather lucky to catch something larger than a pound or a pound and a half. Regardless, you will still have something for dinner. So, how do you catch ’em? Here are a few simple tips and tricks to get your frying pan filled tonight.
1. Steal Some Insider Info
We know, it’s sometimes those sneaky, stealthy searches for information on where the fish are biting that will give you a good lead. You could ask local fishermen hanging out at the sports shop or VFW hall but you know as well as us that they aren’t going to give you precise locations. However, you do have a backup you can use. Snoop around on social media. Sooner or later you are going to hit upon some selfies with fish and all the details you are going to need related to location, lure, time of day and maybe even the color of shirt worn that helped someone limit out on bluegill within the first hour of trolling.
2. It’s Not Pond Scum If You Can Eat It
Don’t let those fishermen tell you that ponds are not worth your while in dropping a line. Truth be told, almost half of the bluegill records that have been recorded in the United States were fish that came from ponds (we’ve done the homework, so trust us on this one). The average angler will balk at the idea of fishing in a pond claiming the ecosystem isn’t strong enough or diverse enough to support bluegill populations. Well, we know differently and now so do you.
3. The Sound of Silence
You’ve been told before that if you make a lot of noise on the lake you are going to spook away the fish. Bluegills are no different. Well, that are the bigger ones that fit better in your frying pan.
The little guys are a bit more tolerant of noise coming from above the surface but the older, wiser ones are not. They won’t just scatter when your boat seat squeaks, they’ll retreat to the depths never to be seen again as long as you are out there today.
4. Minnows For Appetizers
Bluegills are fond of switching up their diet. They vary from invertebrates to small fish. Minnows, in case you were not clear on this, would be considered fitting on the small fish end of that scale. However, you really need to know how to bait your hook on this one.
Do not run your hook behind the dorsal fin of the minnow. Instead, run the hook through both lips of the minnow. This makes it far easier for the small-mouthed bluegills to swallow the minnow and your hook. You can thank us later with some pan-fried dinner.
5. Go Deep At Night
Make no mistake about it, bluegill like to stay cool. On warm summer nights that means hitting the depths of the pond or lake night. What they don’t know about this evasive maneuver is that you now know about it. So, how are you going to fish for them at night? Here’s our tip: don’t use a bobber. Use one or two split shots to drop the baited hook deep. Use live bait like minnows (as explained in painfully precise detail in Tip #4) or nightcrawlers.
6. Stay Light As A Feather
Because bluegills are not going to snatch your bait and pull you overboard, you have to play this game very carefully with the right tools. Bluegills basically nip gently at your bait and as a result you will need to use lightweight and sensitive gear. This means 2 to 4-pound test line and extremely light poles. Master this setup and you’ll be feasting on bluegill for as long as you plan to camp near the lake or pond.
7. The Bottom Line
The bigger, older and sometimes wiser bluegill will hang generally at the bottom of the school of fish. They do this even in shallow water and it’s probably got to do with some kind of fish pecking order than only makes sense underwater. Regardless, this is a key hint for your bait targets. If you can rig your set up to actually get your bait to lie on the bottom of the pond, you could get lucky.
8. Never Underestimate The Power of the Belly Boat
Fishing of any kind is serious business. We get it. That’s why sometimes you just have to unleash your secret weapon and pull out and squeeze into a belly boat. The beautiful thing about a belly boat is that it gets you up close and personal with nature. In shark-infested waters, you may want to skip that experience.
But fishing for bluegill in a pond is not only fun, it’s rewarding in a belly boat. Naturally, we’ve heard all the stories about peeing and belly boats so we’ll just say that your fishing expedition can get a lot more exciting with a belly boat stuffed in the box of your pickup truck.
9. Do Your Homework
Sure, this may have made a lot more sense if it was closer to the top of our list, but sometimes you have to slip in a Wild Card to see if anyone is paying attention. So, before you attempt to fish bluegill, make sure the body of water you are hoping to feed on actually has bluegill in it.
You may even encounter the odd spot that does not allow bluegill fishing. The point here is that deep water or not, if the spot you intend to do some bluegill fishing does not have any in it, you are wasting your time. Signs posted around the perimeter of the lake with hazardous materials notations are not a sign of trophy-sized mutations living in the sludge below the water, either.
10. Have A Backup Plan
We don’t know too many anglers who hit a lake with just the gear for what they are fishing and nothing else. That’s more of a rookie move than anything else. So if you have one of those nifty fishing vests and are actually using it for hooks and lures and assorted other fishing-related things, then if you strike out with bluegill you should be able to make a recovery and catch something other than a cold. The best-prepared angler is the one who eats the most fish at the end of the day.
Need More Tips?
Bluegill are fun, challenging, some work and mighty delicious with lemon pepper and a touch of garlic. What we are saying here is that you can do quite well fishing for dinner at your favorite pond if bluegill happens to be on the menu. It also requires some skill to catch these tiny little buggers. If you are looking for a fun time on the water, bluegill fishing is worth the effort.