Scrappy bluegills are hard to match for pure fishing pleasure. Many of us learned the joy of having them drag our bait into the depths when we were little. It’s only because we’ve forgotten how much fun and delicious catching a couple of these feisty panfish can be that more experienced fishermen begin to despise the tell-tale tapping of a ‘gill on a bass bait.
Fishing crickets & worms on a bobber/float are reliable producers, but artificial lures are a more engaging strategy that frequently yields the area’s most giant bluegill. Although these fish are ferocious, size is the biggest difference between bass fishing lures and bluegill lures. Bluegill may surprise you when it comes to the size of the lure they can take with their small mouths. They will strike a broad range of artificial lures but there are a few that perform better than the rest.
After years of catching these little gamefish, I’ve discovered the different baits that consistently produce the best results. Here’s a summary of the best options and how to catch bluegill fishing tips, and best bluegill baits.
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Basic Facts about Bluegill
Bluegill, a species of freshwater fish native to North America, is a fascinating creature that has captured the interest of anglers and nature enthusiasts alike. Known scientifically as Lepomis macrochirus, the bluegill is a member of the sunfish family, which also includes the largemouth bass and the pumpkinseed sunfish.
The name “bluegill” is derived from the striking blue coloration on the edge of its gill cover, a feature that makes it easily identifiable. Bluegills are typically 4 to 12 inches long, but some can grow up to 16 inches in the right conditions. They have a compressed, oval-shaped body, a small mouth, and a dark spot at the base of their dorsal fin.
Bluegills are known for their resilience and adaptability, which have allowed them to thrive in a variety of environments. They are also popular among anglers due to their feisty nature when hooked and their delicious taste when cooked.
Bluegill Feeding Habits
Bluegills are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and other animals. Their diet is diverse and changes with their age, size, and the availability of food sources.
Young bluegills primarily feed on microscopic organisms called zooplankton. As they grow, their diet expands to include insects, small fish, and various types of aquatic vegetation. Bluegills have a unique feeding strategy where they use their gill rakers to filter food particles from the water.
Bluegills are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat almost anything that fits into their mouths. They are most active during dawn and dusk, which is when they do most of their feeding. This feeding pattern is known as crepuscular feeding.
Bluegill Habitat Basics
Bluegills are incredibly adaptable and can be found in a wide range of freshwater habitats across North America. They prefer warm, quiet waters and are commonly found in lakes, ponds, rivers, and reservoirs.
Bluegills have a particular fondness for areas with plenty of vegetation, as these provide both food and protection from predators. They are often found near the shore, where the water is warmer and food is abundant.
Bluegills are also known to tolerate a range of water conditions, including varying levels of temperature, pH, and oxygen. However, they thrive best in waters with a temperature between 60-80°F (15-27°C), a pH level between 6.5-8.5, and a high level of dissolved oxygen.
Despite their adaptability, bluegills are sensitive to changes in their environment. Pollution, habitat destruction, and the introduction of invasive species can all have a negative impact on bluegill populations. Therefore, it’s crucial to protect and conserve their habitats to ensure the survival of these fascinating creatures.
The Most Common Bluegill Fishing Lures
While a simple grub is typically the best option, rigging the same lure on a spinning lure frame, such as the renowned Beetle Spin, can be even more effective. The spinner provides some sparkle to this design, which gives a more extensive offering. When the water is muddy, or the fish are eating vigorously, it may make a significant impact.
Though a consistent retrieve is preferred, a stop-and-go presentation can also be effective. Cast out and let the spinner bait drop to the bottom before starting a smooth retrieve. Halfway back, or when you reach a log or weed bed, take a moment to halt. Bluegills will snag the bait as soon as it falls. This is a technique I learned while fishing spinnerbaits for bass.
What distinguishes them as a top lure?
“Metal blades designed to spin like a blade when in motion, generating vibration that resembles tiny fish or other prey,” according to the description.
Beetle spins create a lot of noise and flash. You can catch fish for hours on end if you can discover the perfect color combinations. They do an excellent job of luring interested bluegills with the colors and vibrations they emit. White, chartreuse, black, and greens are popular choices.
Without a doubt, the most productive bluegill bait is a grub coupled with a 1/64- to 1/8-ounce lead head jig. The best grub bodies have a single and split tail and are small and stubby. Pumpkinseed, smoke, motor oil, chartreuse, and orange are among the most popular hues. The entire lure should be little more than one inch long.
In deep water, a slow, constant retrieve is most efficient; however, halting periodically can aid. If it doesn’t work, try slowing things down even further. Place a bobber primarily online to let the bait float as you pull it back. Fish these baits like you would fish a rip bait or jerk bait for bass.
When it comes to bluegill fishing, size is essential. Use the tiniest, lightest jigs you can find, such as 1/32-ounce crappie-style lures. When fished on light line in and near weeds and other structures, these basic lures are tough to beat when tipped with a tiny plastic grub, fisheye, or live bait.
The color of the jighead (black, white, or natural) is unimportant, but the grub bodies should be bright and noticeable. The purity of the water frequently influences color choices. Start with white, chartreuse, or black and progress through the color range until the fish express a preference.
Where legal, small jigs could be used in combination or on spreader rigs; check the laws beforehand. If you’re jigging, make sure the lures are tied too far apart to avoid tangling.
Jigs benefit from being hefty enough to perform some underwater probing when the fish appear reluctant to strike. It’s an excellent tactic to begin jigging from the bottom and work your way back to shore in 3-foot increments to the surface.
Bluegills may be found schooling just beneath the surface or sulking towards the bottom where the most structure occurs, depending on the depth of the water you’re fishing.
Fishing inline spinners is another excellent option for murky water or feeding fish. Panther Martin, Mepps, Blue Fox, and the Worden Rooster Tail are a few I’ve had success with. Select small models and have a range of blade colors on hand. In your tackle box, you should include gold, silver, black, and bright colors.
Slowly and carefully retrieve spinners. Reel just quickly enough to rotate the blade. Strikes are frequently violent.
You’ve probably used this technique to catch bass, but Carolina rigged gear can also catch bluegills. A barrel swivel and bead should be rigged ahead of an egg sinker weighing 1/8 to 3/8 ounces, with the lure trailing 18 to 36 inches behind.
A thin plastic worm inside the two to four inch range with a pre-rigged hook or a single exposed hook is an excellent choice for the lure. A tiny grub hooked through the head, 1/8-inch in from the tip, with a size 8 to 10 short-shank hook is another possibility—fish in high-pressure waters, such as clear lakes, like this configuration. You should be warned, though, that you may hook on with an eight-pound bass!
You could also check out some of the very lifelike soft-plastic lures. These long-lasting artificials are made from real-life molds of crickets, worms, crayfish, shrimp, grasshoppers, spiders, grubs, nymphs, and other bluegill favorites. Because the soft plastic mimics the texture of real food, fish will hold these lures in their mouths longer than solid artificials, giving you more time to set the hook. Some are attached on hooks or fished with lead-head jigs and arrive unrigged. A hook is formed into the plastic of others.
Attaching small split shot 12 to 18 inches above the lure to get extra casting distance is an excellent method to fish soft plastics. Count maximum depth where the lure scrapes the tops of underwater weeds or brush, then gently recover the lure with an irregular twitch to attract hungry sunnies.
Smaller versions of these swaying metal pieces may be great for bluegills in both rivers and lakes. Cast to covers or eddies in streams, then recover quickly enough for the spoon to undulate attractively. The most delicate colors are gold, silver-green, and black.
Slab-type jigging spoons are handy for fish lingering in deep locations throughout the winter or summer. Place yourself over your target or a possible location. Lower the spoon to the proper level, then jig it up and down gently and methodically. With breaks between lifts, it should travel 6 to 18 inches. Be ready for a strike since most fish will strike on the drop. A take is virtually inevitable if bull bluegill are close!
TOP WATER LURES
Poppers are excellent topwater baits that draw bluegills in with their specific action. The lure’s design causes a considerable surface disturbance attracting the fish’s attention. I prefer to use the poppers in low-light situations or when fishing ponds.
Floating plugs are also effective in catching bluegills. Several lure companies produce 1- to 2-inch miniatures that mimic natural bream meals, including little crayfish, tiny shad, and grasshoppers.
The ideal approach to entice giant bluegills with any of these plugs would be to cast the bait to a potential hot zone and leave it alone, slowly working the water’s surface now and then. If a hungry sunfish is nearby, it will strike quickly.
Trout spring to mind when we think about fly-fishing. However, the same fly-fishing lures that entice rainbow or brown trout into bite also perform well on large sunfish.
Popping bugs, sponge-rubber spiders, and surface flies are among the finest fly-fishing lures to attempt if those sunfish are on their shallow-water spawning grounds. Choose ones that seem like natural forage, such as mayflies and other insects. Then cast the lure and let it rest for a couple of minutes, twitching it now and then. The goal is to imitate a non-aquatic animal that has become submerged. Because every movement causes the animal to sink, most animals move relatively little. When lures are used too quickly or aggressively, the fish begin to question whether they should be eaten at all.
Many fly fishers prefer nymphs and wet flies after bream have finished reproducing and are hanging in deeper water. Anglers typically use a 10-foot sinking-tip line linked to their regular floating fly line to reach large bluegills 4 to 12 feet below surface. The lure is sometimes allowed to glide down quite slowly. It’s also permissible to sit still on the bottom at times. It’s also possible to get good results by slowly wiggling the bait through the water.
Bluegill, as previously said, is regarded as some of the most delectable fish available. Bluegill fishing is a beautiful activity in and of itself. It’s also an excellent method to rescue a squandered bass and another freshwater outing. In most cases, you can catch a lot of Bluegill in a short amount of time while still bringing home a meal for the family. Of course, choosing the finest Bluegill bait puts them even closer to your dinner plate!