The bluegill is just one member of the enormous sunfish family that so many anglers adore catching. Finding out how to catch bluegill is one thing but you will never be successful unless you follow some basic bluegill fishing tips. There are a ton of ways to put more of them in the boat and it’s up to you to adapt your approach to fit any situation. Doing certain things will hook a lot more fish for you.
Things like bait selection where you live, good rods and reels, fishing lines, and many other things affect whether you will catch fish or not. You need a good baseline for following the basics and that is what we have laid out here. There are a few things to remember regardless of where or when you fish for them and you should follow these regardless. We go over gear selection as well as techniques that you should use.
Lures, Baits, Hooks – Keep It Small
Bluegill and other sunfish are not big at all. They have some of the smallest bodies of any fish and therefore, must be targeted using ultralight tackle. You want to use the smallest gear that you’re capable of using. I am talking ultralight spinning rods, a micro spinning reel, four to six-pound fishing lines, and small baits or lures. I suggest hook sizes that range from number six to number ten. That range will be a good versatile hook size for you to use.
I also recommend using long shank thin wire hooks whenever possible too. The bluegill has a very small mouth. Using a hook that has a thinner wire allows you to remove it a lot easier. The long shank also allows you to grab the hook easier too. I typically suggest using live bait for bluegill if you can because it works extremely well.
The best baits for bluegill I have found are nightcrawlers, waxworms, mealworms, maggots, and bread. I also like crickets, grasshoppers, and flies.
Pretty much all of these options are readily available to most people. When the conditions are right, you can also use artificial lures to catch them. The best bluegill lures are small and represent actual forage like insects and sometimes even tiny minnows to catch your bigger ones.
Bluegill Fishing Tips And Their Techniques
More bluegill has fallen prey to the bobber rig than every other technique put together. There is just something about a float, a hook, and a worm that makes it impossible to resist if you are a sunfish of any kind. Providing a stationary food source allows any fish to come and get. This is often the best rig for fish that prefer not to chase prey.
Try using a very small bobber and set it above the hook about one or three feet. Pinch off a piece of worm and cover the hook with it before casting it out. Alternatively, cover the point of the hook with a wax worm or a maggot and wait for the bobber to twitch on the water’s surface.
The next rig cannot be more simple to set up. All you have to do is tie a hook to the end of your line, bait it, and attach one or two split shots a foot above the hook before casting it out. The hook falls slowly through the water. Look for bites and nibbles as the hook makes its way to the bottom. The fish will usually bite it as it flutters to the bottom. If it makes it to the bottom, sunfish will lift it off of the bottom. Always pay close attention once you have reached maximum depth.
Drifting is a technique that requires a boat and a motor. This is a form of trolling. You’ve made up a couple of rods that are ready to fish. Cast them out as normal and put them in a rod holder. Expect your line to go ten feet or more below the surface. Turn on the motor and use it to propel your boat through certain areas of water. You go at a slow speed and once you find the fish, keep riding around that area to get more.
If you have never gone fly fishing before, you should start soon. Fly fishing for bluegill is one of the most productive techniques that you can use. All sunfish fish love to eat insects. Because of this, you can use your fly rod for something other than trout and carp fishing. Effective patterns to use include the mayfly, caddisfly, spider, and minnow. Try to use a pattern that is small, black, or brown, and has appendages. You can catch fish on the fly all year and even more during the insect hatch.
It doesn’t matter if you use the right tackle, bait, and technique unless you go where the fish are. Unless you put your hook in front of a fish, you might as well be fishing on dry land. Finding the fish is the task that will require the most patience. As with any fish species, the right location often varies from season to season. The habits of baitfish in particular will change depending on what time of year it is. Just because a certain part of the water housed a good population and summer doesn’t mean that it will in winter.
Spring And Early Summer
Spring and early summer are great times to target these fish. This is their spawning season. Always make sure to cover the water with gravel beds during this time. At the bluegill look for places to spawn, they tend to favor gravel where the females deposit their eggs. They become very aggressive during this time so they will actively hit most presentations if they invade their nest. Try very small fishing lures with aggressive action. Options like miniature crankbaits and spinners work really well.
Into the late summer, the bluegill has spawned and moved into deeper water. This is the time of year when they become structured and cover-oriented. They will hold close to cover such as sunken trees, weed beds, grass lines, brush piles, bridges, boat docks, and other man-made and natural abnormalities. Also, look for drop-offs where the water gets deeper. These are essential for the bluegill to ambush bait. Because the temperature rises significantly during the summer months, the water holds less oxygen. That means that you will find your fish down deeper, usually in ten feet of water or more. Try fishing in the morning or late evening for the best results.
You can fish in pretty much the exact locations as in summer once it turns fall. The only difference is that the temperatures are dropping, the water contains more oxygen, and the fish will come out to feed more often. This will greatly improve your success in catching fish during the heat of the day. Again, look for some cover that the fish can take refuge in and hide as well as ambush baitfish and insects.
Winter is the time of year when fish will be very hard to catch. The fish are lethargic and don’t have a lot of energy. During this time, you will have to fish very slow-moving presentations and you may even have to bring out the old bobber for a bite. It is no doubt that fish get hungry during the cold weather but unsuccessful catches just waste more energy. In order to entice hits, you need to keep things natural. Try fishing more shallow as many fish hold closer to the surface to soak up a little sunlight.
Finding A Good Body Of Water
Most places have a healthy population of bluegill especially if they also house bass and catfish. Because the bluegill sunfish is the primary forage of these fish in many places, they are not hard to find. Sometimes finding the right body of water is as simple as finding one that is convenient to fish at. Many sizes of fish exist in many places. Always be mindful of places that feed their fish too as these tend to produce bigger gills. Places such as farm ponds, private ponds, private lakes, streams, and reservoirs all make great places to fish. Just make sure that you have permission to fish any pond or water body before you do so.
Ice Fishing For Bluegill
Going out on the ice and catching a livewell full of bluegill requires that you use a small presentation and a lot of patience. When it is this cold outside, the fish are lethargic and eat a lot less than they normally do. This is where it will pay off to use an even smaller hook than normal. Common ice fishing hooks for panfish are brightly colored and extremely tiny. I suggest using mealworms or wax worms to entice a bite through the ice. Use a bobber that is big enough to just barely suspend your bait off of the bottom. Every once in a while, give a downward twitch with the rod tip and wait.
In conclusion, it never hurts to have some bluegill fishing tips. This sunfish is a coveted species for many reasons. Regardless if you want to pan-fry them whole, use them as bait, or just to get your kids into the sport of fishing, catching them never gets old. I have caught so many of these little guys and I still love it today. It really is a sport that never gets old and I believe there is a ton of benefit in a quick fish tip once in a while. Do you have any bluegill tips to share? Tell us down below!