Spring bluegill fishing a favorite pastime

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Brandon Butler and Billy Blakely of Blue Bank Resort with a mess of spring bluegill.

With a quick snap of my wrist, I set the hook into another hearty bluegill and raise the purple and black bull from the water.

Swinging the chunky keeper into the boat, I smile as thoughts of summer fish fries dance in my head. I drop him in the cooler and thread another cricket on my hook then plop my bobber right back in the same spot.

I love fishing for bluegill with modern day cane poles. These graphite telescopic poles extended 10 feet. Tie an equally long stretch of line to the tip and affix a slip bobber rig with a small split shot and hook. Crickets are my favorite bait, but when bluegill are bedding, they’ll eat about anything.

I learned to cane pole at a young age by watching my grandfather and other family members softly setting their bobbers down over beds and hauling in enough bluegill to fill a bucket.

During the spawn, bluegill are aggressive defenders of their nests. They’ll hit just about anything you drop on them. They’ll attack worms, beemoths, jigs, dry flies and poppers on the surface. But for intense action, I like dropping a cricket on them that sinks slowly.

Bluegill bed in large numbers. Once you find a spawning location, chances are you won’t have to move for quite awhile. Look for bluegill beds in the shallows near the backs of bays, amongst stump beds, along weed lines and beside brush piles. Also, boat docks in bays are premier spawning locations.

Many anglers forged their love of fishing by catching bluegill. With time, many anglers move on to more complicated exploits of fishing for bass and other prized game fish. Yet, the magic of watching a bobber dance has never faded. For me, the excitement of catching hard fighting bluegill in big numbers when they are bedding is a thrill I can barely get enough of.

Most bluegill spawn when water temperatures are between 65-75 degrees. Some spawn above and below those temperatures, but that’s pretty much the magic range. The water temperature on my favorite little lake is 65 degrees and bluegill are on beds all around the shore.

Bluegill beds are usually easy to locate. They are saucer shaped and there are a lot of them right next to each other. While cruising shallow shorelines and the back of coves keep looking down into the water, especially around fallen trees, docks and other structures. When you start to see beds, back off and pitch your bait right on top of them. You can do this from the shore or from a boat.

Take advantage of this shallow water action while you can. Once the water temperature begins to push into the upper 70s and hits the 80s, usually around the first or second week of June, bluegill will retreat to cooler water, which equates to deeper or shade covered water.

An angler’s best bet for bluegill during the warmest months will be to target water shaded by over-hanging trees, and to look for fish underneath docks, especially docks outfitted with brush piles.

Many fishermen rightfully leave certain species alone while spawning. To rip a brown from a red or to tramp through a spawning bed of a smallmouth bass is a bad offense in my opinion.

Bluegill, however, are different. They are a fish destined for a deep fryer. Their population is usually fine because they multiply rapidly and grow fast. So pulling them from their beds, which still should be done in moderation relevant to a few fish fries, is acceptable.

See you down the trail…

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