Bustin' Behemoth Bluegill

It's easy to catch 1-lb. bluegill, if you fish in the right places

by Don Jordan
From the Hoosier Times 4/15/01/01

What a difference a day makes. Twenty-four little hours. Dinah Washington sang it better than it can be said.

Winter disappeared, and spring arrived, just like that, finally.

It didn’t take the bluegill long to figure it out, and we hit it just right, by accident. It would have to have been called a classic fishing day. A low front was approaching, Wind was from the south and moving to the west. There was light cloud cover and the wind laid nicely at mid-morning. Conditions were about as good as they could be. To top it off, a full moon was lurking, and everyone knows a full moon drives bluegill mad.

However, just the day before, Dennis Knoy, Bloomington, and I had endured a east wind and were beaten, but not skunked, at Catract. We caught three 11- to – 12-inch crappie, one tiny walleye and one tiny white bass in 4.5 hours. It seemed longer.

"I’m tellin’ you Jordan, I wouldn’t bet on it today either," said Tony Abrell, Worthington, as we rode out to the fishin’ hole. It was unusual that we were riding,. We usually park and hike, but we had a new guy with us on this outing, Cash Currant, a Montanan whose notorious inability to walk without taking a header prohibited hiking to the lake.

We came outfitted for drowning crickets or for casting FishNSpins or jigs tipped with beemoth. Tony uses a clear casting bobber with about three feet of line for depth, no weight. Because I had been rigged for crappie fishing, I started with a slip bobber rig and a slip shot to make the line run through it. I agree with Tony that his casting bobber, no weight rig is far the better setup, especially when bluegill are in shallow water.

We were fishing a small, private lake of about 10 acres. Tony has been fishing it for years, and in the past few, he has taken me along to this lair of humongous bluegill. It was either on the first or second cast that Tony’s ultralight bent double. We made the circuit around the lake, Tony the Trolling Motor sitting in the bow with the sculling paddle and dunking crickets.

Despite line twists and some over-eager casting by Currant, a former hog rancher, followed by more bird nests in everyone’s reels, by the time we ended our first lap around the lake, we had 20 enormous bluegill. I switched to a plain jig tipped with beemoth, Currant stuck with the FishNSpin and we caught another dozen on the second lap.

 

"I’d say we got four or five that if they aren’t a pound, they’re at least 14 ounces," said Abrell as we nosed onto the bank. We hauled a five-gallon bucket out of the boat that was filled to the brim with bluegill, tails hanging over the edge. We counted 34 of them. The smallest two or three, caught mainly by Abrell, were in the half-pound class and would have been prizes at most lakes.

Tony and I turned those into 67 (somebody messed one up) pure, white bluegill fillets which we bagged up and took home to eat.

As the wind rose and we stood looking over this favorite fishing hole, I noticed patterns on the surface at mid-lake. Those surface disturbances were bluegill, cruising near the surface in the middle of the lake where the sun still warmed the top. Tiny insects were emerging there, and the bluegill were feeding on them.

These fish can be caught by rigging a red worm or cricket just a few inches deep below the smallest bobber you can cast, no weight. Cast and after letting the disturbance caused by the cast subside, begin to slowly move the bobber. Move it at glacial speed, then let it stop to rest now and then.

Of course, what kind of bluegill strategy you use now depends mainly on where you fish. If you choose to fish farm ponds or small lakes (a wise choice), fish will be more active because of warmer water. Farm pond and small lake fish will also be associated more closely with the bank.

Note that the huge bluegill we caught were all female. We had one male all day. The females did not have eggs in them yet, but they were up checking out known favorite nesting spots.

The next full moon is May 7, and if weather and water levels cooperate, there will be major bluegill action then. If conditions cool and storms drive them from nesting areas, look for the full moon of June 5 to be peak spawning this year, especially in larger lakes.

Finally, this is the perfect time to combine a fishing trip with a morel hunt. Conditions are perfect for them, even if moisture is on the short side. Be sure to check in the mornings after even the lightest rain.

 Posted 4/18/01....indy

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