How to locate and catch spawning bluegills in Indiana, according to Brian Waldman
July 22, 2012
Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, is a masterful multispecies angler. Some observers would describe him as a quintessential In-Fisherman.
His mastery at locating and catching crappie and largemouth bass have been highlighted in several blogs during the past year. On June 29, he sent an e-mail that said his piscatorial attention had been focused on pursuing bluegill rather than crappie and largemouth bass since the week of June 10. And he described these bluegill pursuits as an exhilarating and entertaining affair.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this endeavor for Waldman was utilizing a Humminbird 798Ci HD SI, which is a Side Imaging unit, to locate offshore colonies of spawning bluegill. He called it "an amazing learning process." Humminbird's Side Imaging unit allowed him to pinpoint the whereabouts of what he called "some wonderful nesting colonies of very chunky gills out in places I never would have imagined." He found them primarily on main-lake flats, nesting at depths of four to seven feet of water, and where few if any other anglers have dared to look. He wrote: " I'm quite certain nobody has found or figured these fish out on the waters I'm focusing on, as I haven't seen another angler fishing them in the three weeks I've been on this bite. Everybody I've seen has been up shallow chasing the visible nesters. These fish nest deep enough that you simply can't make them out visually. I actually stumbled across them by accident while fishing for bass well off-shore along the ends of main-lake flats, and I almost didn't believe what I was seeing on the graph at first."
According to Waldman, the water clarity at this reservoir fluctuates from two feet to four feet. It depends upon the state of the algae bloom and amount of boat traffic. He said: " Even when you're sitting directly over one
of these beds..., you couldn't make them out. You have
to see them on your side imaging unit to know they are there, and how
big and what configuration they are sitting in. Most anglers are simply driving
right over the top of these fish as they make their way toward the coves and
Here's what a main-lake bluegill spawning site looks like on Waldman's Humminbird Side Imaging sonar.
Once Waldman locates a colony of spawners, he beguiles them with a variety of soft-plastic baits, bee moths and crickets.He likes to affix those baits to either a chartreuse or fluorescence red Gopher Tackle 1/32- and 1/16-ounce Mushroom Head Jig. Waldman has discovered that those two jig colors do a better job of alluring bluegill than unpainted jigs or jigs painted with another hue. One of his favorite soft-plastic options is a 1 1/2-inch tube. He removes several of its tentacles, which creates what he calls "a smaller morsel that mimics the look of numerous invertebrates." He casts and slowly retrieves it the across, around and over the spawning beds. The bee moth is the larvae of the wax moth, and Waldman threads the larvae onto a 1/32-ounce Gopher jig as if it were a soft-plastic grub. Its head is threaded onto the collar of the jig. He presents this bee-moth and jig combo the same way he uses the jig and soft-plastic bait combo. When Waldman works with crickets, he prefers to employ a larger 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, noting it helps get the cricket, which is bulky and buoyant, down to the bluegill. Moreover, the 1/16-ounce jig has a larger and longer hook, which is a necessity when he employs a bait as big as a cricket. He presents this combo fished under either a Thill Mini Stealth or Mini Shy Bite float. At times, he will also use a split shot and a No. 6 or No. 8 long shank hook baited with the cricket. But day in and day out, he prefers the jig combo. When he uses a jig combo, Waldman utilizes a 6 1/2-foot medium-light custom-built spinning rod; it is a St. Croix Avid blank. This rod sports either a 1500- or 2000-size spinning reel that is spooled with with four- to eight-pound-test braided line and a four- or six-pound-test fluorocarbon or monofilament leader. If he employs a float, Waldman likes to wield a seven-foot spinning rod with a moderate-fast action by G. Loomis PR842S popping rod, and his 1500- or 2000-size spinning reel is spooled with either four- or six-pound-test fluorocarbon or monofilament line.
Waldman described his recent fling with the bluegill as being "a wonderfully relaxing sidebar to the usual bass chase. I've kind of been like the proverbial kid in a candy store since finding this happening on my home lake. The nesting bite is starting to wane though, so I'm transitioning back to bass again. While still primarily a bass angler at heart, in true multi-species spirit, whatever is keeping the pole bent the best on a given lake or at a given time is what I want to be chasing. Fortunately, the side bar adventures tend to be short-lived in nature."