Twist-Free Bluegills (On Ice)

Twist-Free Bluegills (On Ice)


Fishing vertically with light line and light jigs  creates line twist. Right? You reel in, the jig spins. You drop the jig, it spirals. But the joker in the deck is that spinning reel on your rod handle.


The rod in the photo is one of the new Tony Roach Signature Series panfish rods fromWright & McGill. The center-pin-style reel, also new from Wright & McGill, has no bail, no line-gathering device, no "passes,"and no twist. Fishing all winter with this unit spooled with 4-pound Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon. Tatsu is more manageable than  most fluorocarbons, but all are stiffer than a good, limp mono. But fluorocarbon doesn't twist on this new fly-reel style equipment coming out in 2014. These reels have a quality star drag and multiplying gears, but it's the direct retrieve that makes fishing with fluorocarbon in cold weather trouble free.

Not that the weather was cold the other day. As mentioned in the previous post, it was over 70°F. The 25-mph winds were the only reason we weren't stripped down to t-shirts. I got my first really painful sunburn of the year.


My first experience with fly-reel style ice reels was provided by the Thorne Brothers 13 Fishing Series rods and reels. The rods have plenty of play, but performed admirably when setting hooks and fighting bull gills away from wood cover and remaining stands of green cabbage. Fighting big gills is plenty of fun with this kind of setup, especially with the longer units with big bends.

Wright & McGill will be releasing a variety of panfish rods next season. The one in the photo above is almost a deadstick-style rod, with a whippy tip that replaces spring bobbers. Bluegills and light-biting crappies can bend the last 8 inches of this stick straight down before they feel anything at all. Actually works better than a spring bobber because, once they bend it that far, the blank blends quickly into a section with plenty of backbone for setting hooks and moving fish.

As mentioned in that previous post, we were finding bluegills all through the water column. I began catching them 3 feet under the first hole I walked up to, which was drilled over 14 feet of water. When you only have 5 feet of line out, the forgiving tip on that rod becomes a huge advantage. Suicidal, kamikaze bluegills weighing  a pound or more can snap fluorocarbon pretty quick with so little shock absorption being provided by such a short line.

But why were  these bruiser bluegills spread throughout the entire water column?

If you trace our steps back to early winter, when Shoggie and I were fishing this same lake for bluegills while setting tip-ups for big pike, you'll remember we could only catch bluegills up to a point several minutes before a flag popped up — and only within 5 feet or so of a big pile of sunken timber. Underwater cameras revealed that, the moment a big toothy appeared, bluegills ducked back into the wood.

This time of year, the big toothies are focused on sex. They're either running up incoming creeks or filtering into shallow bays and connecting wetlands to spawn. So, not only will bluegills and crappies come out to play — they take over. In the same lake, bluegills were hundreds of yards from the nearest cover, scattered throughout the water column, and the only pike we caught were hammer handles in the 20- to 24-inch range.

But we did expect to catch more bass. Shoggie's lake is full of big largies. Where were they? Just like bluegills (which are pretty close relatives to largemouths), bass become increasingly active during warming trends in spring. (And they bite the same things, triggering far better on tiny baits than the sizes that trip them up most consistently from late spring through early winter.) When air temperatures above the ice are warm, those bands of 34°F water below the ice contract toward the surface. Whether you're fishing for panfish, bass, walleyes, or pike — there's something magic about that 36°F temperature band. Look for more on that topic in next year's Winter Issue of In-Fisherman magazine.

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...

Walleye

The Lowdown on Walleye Hardbaits

Steve Ryan - May 28, 2019

The range of walleye hardbaits encompasses multiple categories and a dizzying number of lures.

Bass

10 Best Bass Fishing States In America

Matt Straw - November 01, 2017

Which of the ten is the best? You decide.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Largemouth Bass: Tricks of Our Trade

The In-Fisherman staff reveals insider swimming jig tips and tricks for big bass.

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance's Lucas Steward shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead what all of the fuss is about in the brand new Ghost trolling motor being brought to market by the Tulsa, Okla.-based fishing equipment manufacturer.

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead gets new product details from Simms Fishing Product's John Frazier about the new waterproof 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Walleye

Understanding Spring Walleye Migrations

Gord Pyzer - June 02, 2018

'Walleyes spawn in spring and understanding spring walleye migrations, whether you live north...

Other Fish

Must-Have Striped Bass Tackle

Rick Bach - May 04, 2017

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you...

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

Top Panfish Tackle

Steve Quinn - July 09, 2018

The old expression "Luck is where preparation meets opportunity" certainly pertains to...

Panfish

Bluegill Management Strategies

Dr. Hal Schramm - March 12, 2018

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

Panfish

Strategies for Shallow Panfish

Dan Johnson - March 06, 2018

Nothing against the deep bite, but I'd rather fish for shallow panfish any day, especially...

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.

×