Bluegills Are Easy? Think Again


Conventional thinking and common sayings: You can always catch bluegills. Bluegills are easy because they're so aggressive. With bluegills, it's not fishing — it's catching. You want reality? You can't handle reality.


On a recent trip to a lake that's produced many bluegill photos for the Ice Guide and other publications than, perhaps, any other over the past decade or so — we spent a day chasing bluegills. Only one was caught. It's in the hands of Dan Quinn, field promotions coordinator for Rapala, in the photo there. That's his father, In-Fisherman Senior Editor Steve Quinn, seen over his shoulder. Mary and I were also happy to be in the company of  Tony Roach, Gary Roach, and guide David "Shoggie" Shogren (218/765-3197). Pretty talented assortment of ice anglers. Seven, in all. One bluegill.

We were victims of circumstances. But what would the circumstances be, that could turn something so "easy" into something so difficult?


We searched high. We searched low. Big ol' bluegills. Where did you go?

Factor #1: We were faced with dark, stained water on a cloudy day. Our underwater cameras could see nothing down there. "I hope it's sunny," Shoggie said, when we planned ahead. It wasn't. But, why did the crappies and toothies bite so well? And why did the one bluegill we caught bite at 3:30 p.m., on the dark outside edge of the usual daily window for good bites? Hmmm.

Factor #2: Weather was warming. Bluegills generally bite better during warming trends in winter. Hmmm.

Factor #3: What was the key depth. We drilled holes from the 5-foot contour out to the deepest water in the lake (22 feet). In 8 to 10 feet of water, we all had multiple experiences with fish that would slowly move through, never really following or staying on our jigs. But the only bluegill caught came out of 21 feet of water, 4 feet off bottom. Hmmm.

Factor #4: Size matters. I tried everything from 1/500-ounce teardrops with size #16 hooks to small 1/32-ounce spoons. The one bluegill we caught bit one of those spoons.

Factor #5: Bait. Dan is a devout believer in plastics. "I never use bait," he said. He stayed with some prototypes of new TriggerX baits that will hit the market next year. Most of us used maggots, waxworms, or both.

Bluegills continued to evade everyone, but crappies bit all day. And flags were popping. Maybe that's why the bluegills had lockjaw. They were on the lamb. "We watched bluegills on a brush pile with our underwater cameras  one day," Tony said. "Most of the time they were a couple feet away from the wood. But, when a pike cruised by, they ducked back into the wood pile."

You can see Tony pull the rest of that pike out of the hole tomorrow.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Accessories

Costa Baffin Sunglasses Review

Chris Schneider - April 26, 2019

Made from 100% recycled fishing nets, the Costa Baffin's are a must-have for any serious...

Bass

Topwater Lure Secrets for Bass

Jim Edlund - April 26, 2018

These secrets will put more and bigger bass in your boat!

Walleye

Spring Walleye Fishing Tackle Choices

Steve Ryan - October 19, 2017

Spring walleye fishing often means large numbers of fish concentrated in small areas.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Select Lure Options for Giant Pike

And handful of lure options produce big pike early in the season.

Frigid Water Smallmouths

Doug Stange swims jigs with precision for frigid-water smallmouths.

13 Fishing Inception SZ

Florida angling pro Jessie Mizell knows that the saltwater found in Sunshine State coastal fisheries can wreak havoc on even the best fishing gear. But with 13 Fishing's new feature laden Inception SZ saltwater baitcasting reel, tackling inshore and light tackle saltwater game fish just got a whole lot easier!

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Catfish

The Best Catfish Rigs

In-Fisherman - January 11, 2018

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is...

Catfish

All About Catfish

Rob Neumann

Catfish are among the most popular groups of fish with over 7 million catfish anglers...

Boats & Motors

2- Vs. 4-Cycle Outboard Motors

Dan Johnson - April 16, 2018

Now more than ever, understanding each category's strong suits is critical to choosing a...

See More Stories

More Panfish

Panfish

Solving Spring Panfish

Jim Edlund - March 19, 2018

As the world awakens from winter's slumber, all manner of life begins to bloom and the...

Panfish

Softbait Hacks for Hardwater Panfish

Cory Schmidt - February 27, 2019

Bites are one thing, but bites alone don't get it done.

Panfish

Bluegill Management Strategies

Dr. Hal Schramm - March 12, 2018

Until a few years ago, the management strategy for good bluegill fishing—meaning good...

See More Panfish

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×