Shy-Bite Bluegills

Shy-Bite Bluegills

Sorry to be so non-communicative lately, but the day after getting home from Misaw Lake, I drove north for a couple hours to hook up with the ubiquitous don of monster bluegills. That would be Dave Genz. (Who else?)

Barely had the flesh torn by toothy critters in Saskatchewan had time to fester before I was on the water with Mary Savage and Genz for two extremely hot days. Then I drove home and worked on my house for a couple days in equally hot, 90°F weather. And Sunday evening (when we ran out of paint), we went smallmouth fishing. (What else?)

Monday I was down for the count with a mild case of heat stroke. But I wouldn't trade a moment of it. We got a lot accomplished and the bull bluegills of northern Minnesota were massively accommodating. Our two days with Dave and his wonderful wife Patsy could be the highlight of the summer. Because, among other things, we learned stuff. I've been faithfully reporting on Dave's new summer techniques to the best of my ability for the past couple years, but I've never actually done it with him.

"We've got to rig a couple float rods like this," Mary said, while battling another pug-nosed, porcine pugilist over 10 inches long. "This is amazing."

Bluegills are amazing. Dave calls them "spinners." They tilt their flat bodies side up and circle into every cabbage stalk in the immediate area, pulling harder than a dog-sled team. Bass, trout, walleyes, pike, and muskies vie for everyone's attention this time of year — which just might be the reason why bluegill fishing is so spectacular. Concerning odds for trophy specimens, bluegills might offer the best bang for your buck under mid-summer's thunder dome.

If you look back through past summer issues of In-Fisherman (I know you've got them, because independent surveys don't lie), you'll see the method described in detail. Genz uses a 12-foot, European-style float rod and daps. His floats of choice are Thill Shy Bites and Super Shy Bites, like the one in the photo. He uses Lindy Fat Boy jigs of various sizes, depending on water clarity, depth, and wind conditions. (I preferred the 1/8-ounce Northland Eye Ball Jig you see in the photo above.) We tipped jigs with maggots or leeches from Vados Bait. Bluegills showed a decided preference for maggots the first day, while both baits worked well on day two.

After choosing a jig, Dave adds  just enough Thill Soft Shot to the line (12 inches above the jig) to draw the float down to the black paint you see at the top of the float's body, creating a very sensitive rig that practically disappears whenever a bluegill breathes on the bait.

Dave would putz around or drift across a flat until we saw some particularly encouraging clumps of cabbage, at which point, down went the "hook" (anchor). Then we reached out and dapped around the thickest clumps, which were growing in 9 to 10 feet of water on the two lakes we visited, even though the water hardly seemed clear enough to allow weeds to grow that deep.

If you know anything about Genz, you know he's an ice-fisherman extraordinaire. He's good at it because he loves it and he loves it because he's good at it, but he wants to fish vertically and take complete command of what the jig is doing. He'd clip an ice-fishing plummet to his jig to decipher the precise depth of the spot. If it was 10 feet deep, his jig would be 9.5 feet below the Super Shy Bite (which slides on the line for easy adjustments). But, whenever you looked at him, the float would be a foot or so above the water while he manipulated the jig with the rod tip. "The cadence is the thing," he kept saying. "Find that and you can sometimes catch them for hours." Using wrist and fingers, he tricked the rod tip around, making the float dance and wobble above the water for several seconds, then he'd drop it back to the surface and wait for a few more seconds before starting all over again — imagining himself on the ice, no doubt, and doing the same thing with a much shorter rod from the seat of a snowmobile.

Skin burning from overexposure, we reclined in the Genz cabin and drifted off to distant claps of thunder and the dim flicker of far-off lightning. More on the Genz trip in tomorrow's post. (If the sun don't get me and the smallmouths won't bite, that is. It will be Friday tomorrow, after all.)

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