Let’s get back to basics… how to catch bluegill
The bluegill; It goes by many names. If you were to head south, you would hear it referred to as bream. Around these parts though we just call it bluegill.
It belongs to a group of fish that falls under a category called pan or sunfish. These fish are usually smaller in size and there are several species that fall into this category. I have already talked about the bluegills’ bigger cousin- the crappie – in a previous column, but there are 10 variations of species in Ohio that all get lumped under the identification of the bluegill.
There is only one fish in Ohio that actually goes by the name bluegill and that is the Bluegill Sunfish. The rest are Green Sunfish, Longear Sunfish, Orangespotted Sunfish, Redear Sunfish, Pumpkinseed and the Warmouth. They are all of the same size and shape and generally have the same color and markings with only slight differences.
Never the less, we as anglers, are interested in one thing; how do you catch these fish? The tactics are the same regardless of the species. This is a great category of fish to start out fishing if you are new to the sport. The reason being is these species of fish are plentiful as they are found all around the state. The action can come quickly as the fish like to school up. That means many fish in a small space and the fishing can be done on the cheap. Some anglers have a lot of gear to go out and catch fish, but with bluegill fishing all you really need is a rod and reel, some line, a hook and bait. It is fairly inexpensive fishing.
Like most fishing there are numerous ways in which you can catch these fish and we will discuss from the most basic to the more complex.
One of the most basic, and probably most used, methods of catching bluegill is with a slip bobber and live bait. It is a highly effective way to fish. You can use a variety of bait from your basic night crawler, wax worms, crickets, leeches or minnows.
All work well and you just have to figure out what works best for you. The next thing is depth. In fishing there are a lot of similarities in the way that you find fish. Depth is one of those. The fish will be moving in and out of cover because they are predatory fish. So look for cover, tree branches, over-hanging banks, tree roots in the water or submerged vegetation.
If you find the structure along with the right depth, you are basically just feeding the fish and reeling them in. The bobber lets the angler know something is under the surface messing with your bait.
The size of the bobber, though, is important though. If you are targeting the big bluegill, use a bigger bobber and wait for the thing to go down. If you are fishing, just to get something on the hook, scale back the bobber size and have some fun. The reason for using a slip bobber is that you can easily adjust the depth at which the bait will be suspended in the water column and be presented to the fish.
You can also try working some artificial baits where you think the bluegill are hanging out. Everything that I spoke about in my crappie article will work for bluegill. You just might have to switch to smaller sizes.
The bluegill have smaller mouths and this means smaller prey. Rooster tails, soft plastic grub worms, small tubes all work well. If you are wanting something a little more active, throw a rooster tail and retrieve with a slow crank of the reel.
If you want to slow down a presentation, put a vibrantly-colored (neon, pinks, yellows) small tube on a jig head and bounce if through some brush or weeds and wait to feel the pull.
The last approach, and the most complex, to bluegill I will talk about is fly-fishing. This requires a whole different setup. You would need a lightweight fly rod and appropriate flies to go along with. I have used flies called terrestrials (bees, ants, spiders and grasshoppers) to catch bluegill in the evenings during the summer with good success.
This type of fishing is something that takes practice and patients to master. Once you do, it is a lot of fun and, hey, that is what fishing is all about isn’t it? Just doing something you love doing for the fun of it.
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