Bluegill Fishing Tips, Tricks and Techniques

bluegill fishing tips and tricks
Photoby Valeriebb / CC BY / CC BY

Its that classic time of the year to find out how to catch those really big bluegills! Grab your fishing pole, camera, net and get your fish on! Here are some bluegill fishing tips, tricks and even techniques that will help you catch ten times more bluegill on your next fishing trip!

Without further ado, here are some bluegill fishing tips, tricks and techniques:

Basic Information and Facts about Bluegills: Lepomis Marcochirus
Today, Bluegill are one of the most recognized pan fish. Depending on where you are from, they may be referred as a bream, copper nose or brim. Bluegill are one of the most bold fish among the pan fish family and often have little to no fear of any angler trying to catch them.

Its been reported that in Lake Scugog in Canada that there are even bluegill who allow for humans to touch and stroke them. A perfect example of their boldness.

Anglers though use bluegill in a variety of ways. Often they are used as a bait for larger predators such as bass and even catfish. You will most often find bluegill being caught by new anglers or from younger children who are fishing off the dock in which allows for the children to have a interest in fishing even at a young age.

When fishing for bluegill, they are most often found in shallow water or sometimes in slower sections of rivers and streams. When in doubt, they can easily be caught off a dock too. Bluegill are called and easily identified by their blue color pattern, blue/purple face and gill flaps, orange-yellow body and olive colored bands.

Oddly enough, for such a small fish; they are able to grow to roughly 12 inches in length and over 4 pounds. Bluegill will often school with other pan fish and often will be found in groups of 10 or more. Sometimes they are even right off the side of a dock. Bluegill eat a variety of things such as:

Insect Larva
Small Fish
Water Fleas
When food is scarce; aquatic vegetation
You will find these schools often throughout the year but they are most active during their spawning period which is in early May and goes through late August.

Learning How to Catch Big Bluegill: Only ten inches and up!
You will most often find the biggest bluegills in lakes or streams that hold a very small population of panfish such as sunfish, bluegill, crappie and more. The sole reason behind this is that the more food the bluegill has to eat, the bigger they can be!

Most often the record breaking catches are found in the southern regions as they are the most likely to produce these bigger fish than the northern region. They are able to grow larger in the southern reasons for a variety of reasons: Constant warm water, longer summer, and less stressful winter. You still may get luck up in the north though and pull in a record breaking catch!

Wherever you decide you are fishing though, it will take a little research if you are willing to try to snag that next trophy bluegill! If you are up for the challenge, you can find out this information in a variety of ways by: contacting state fisheries agencies, checking out pictures at bait shots, looking online for information, checking record books and by talking to local water front property owners.

Once you get all this information put together, you should have a decent idea where all those local big bluegills are in your area. After that, its just takes time trying to find the peak time to try to snag one.

Here are some record bluegill records:

Bluegill Fishing All Time Records: Can you beat these fish?
Here are the top 5 caught bluegill records! These are from Land Big Fish and only based in the United States. Often record catches go unreported or improperly reported so there still could be huge bluegill still out there! If you want to view more record breaking catches, feel free to visit the Land Big Fish website.

T.S. Hudson in the USA on 4-9-1950 caught a 4.12 lbs. bluegill in Lake Ketona
Chris R. Mapes in the USA on 5-2-2004 caught a 3.15 lbs. bluegill in Goldwater Lake
Michael Holoubek in the USA on 6-22-2008 caught a 3.14 lbs. bluegill in an unknown lake
Albert Sharp in the USA on 8-7-1998 caught a 3.4 lbs. bluegill in Rancho Murieta Reservoir
Nicholas Toczek in the USA in 1998 caught a 2.4 lbs. bluegill in Hollenbeck Reservoir
You never know if you might be the next bluegill record holder! More often than not, people are surprised by these low numbers but prove to them that your lake holds that next big catch! If you are having some troubles, more often than not; our tips will help you snag that next big catch. If you end up being that next angler that catches the next record holder, feel free to tell people where you snagged all those nice bluegill fishing tips and techniques!

Simple techniques that will net you ten times more bluegill
Oddly enough, there are two fishing techniques and tips that will change your success rate for catching all sizes of bluegills. There are a variety of techniques and tips but I can’t place these two any higher:

Fishing Line Helps: Use Four-Pound Test Line
Even though this may seem weak, its best for the most overall situations. You’d be surprised how well bluegills can see and without a doubt, they will be able to see thicker fishing line.

They may be fish but they aren’t dumb. Often enough, they won’t even try to go for any bait that looks out of the ordinary. They are smart, cautious fish that prefer to stay alive! The bigger the bluegill is, the harder it will be to snag one.

You should even go as far as to try two pound test line and try that out before you try something heavier. The lighter and smaller line will help catch bluegills since they are picky eaters. If you are fishing in clear water, this is the top bluegill fishing tip.

The smaller the line you use, the more bites you are most likely to get. Keep in mind though, if you are going for a huge bluegill; your line will break if you lift it out of the water. Its best to bring a net when bluegill fishing. Don’t let that next record breaking bluegill get away!

You also need to keep in mind the situation that you are fishing at. More often than not, you will end up with multiple snags in trees, brush, weeds and more. Use your best judgement when picking out a line that will work. Make sure you don’t pick something too heavy though. That is key to this bluegill fishing tip.

Give Fly Fishing a Try: It Really Works
Believe it or not, fly fishing for bluegill is one of the best ways to fish for bluegill or pan fish in general. It may be a rare sight to see a fly fisherman going for bluegill but this bluegill fishing tip & technique is golden!

This doesn’t always work though due to insect hatching times. Your best bet is to try this bluegill technique only when insects are hatching. To find out more about fly fishing for bluegill, check out our other post.

Top Bluegill Fishing Spots: Don’t Miss out On These!
For the most part, you will find bluegill in a variety of water bodies such as: lakes, rivers, streams and even reservoirs. Even the smallest water bodies might luck out with some bluegill lurking.

There is a small lake that doesn’t have any boat launches near my house. Therefore, most people think there isn’t any fish there and rarely will you ever see people trying. Low and behold, they have the biggest pan fish I’ve ever caught! Give every decent size body of water a try before you give up on it!

Fishing in Rivers and Streams
If you are fishing in any rivers or streams where water is moving, try to find a area where the current slows down a bit. I’ve had the most success in areas where the water is even considered stagnate that is next to brush and or weeds. Most often, you will not find any bluegills in any fast flowing sections of water.

Fishing in Lakes/Ponds
When searching for a decent pond or lake, try to find one with big bass or record breaking predators. You might be thinking, “why would I want to go somewhere with big bass? I’m looking for bluegill!” but that also means there are less bluegill in the lake. Less bluegill means the bigger ones have survived and have plenty of food to eat! When there aren’t enough predators in a lake, often there are too many small bluegill or pan fish.

Lets be real, 4 inch fish simply aren’t fun nor good eaters. Bigger is always better.

Consistent catches though will really depend on how well you know the pong/lake that you are fishing at. Bluegill often have seasonal habits and will roam based on that in concentrated schools. If you are looking to be truly successful in catching bluegill, you must be able to locate where all the fish are concentrated.

Simply put: Just because you know you caught a ton of them in the spring by the band doesn’t mean that’ll be at that same bank mid summer. Be prepared to adjust locations between seasons.

Bringing Kids Fishing For Bluegill
This is the perfect fish to introduce kids to fishing with and especially for their first time. With their beautiful colors, you won’t be too surprised if they get caught in the fishing niche. Top Bluegill Fishing tip though is to make sure you stay with your kids!

If you are fishing in a small pond or lake, location will really depend on the depth of the lake. More often than not, fish will follow a pattern based on the temperature of the lake/pond.

When fishing in a pond, try areas that have a lot of cover. These would include: Weeds, brush, fallen trees or simply shady spots. If you try all these spots listed above, you are bound to snag at least one bluegill or pan fish. Note: If its really hot out, try shady areas right off the bat as fish will be looking for cooler waters

If the weather is brutally hot, bluegills will be far from the edge of the pond and towards the deeper spots. Most people will ignore this bluegill fishing tip or not remember this technique. I’ve had the best luck though fishing on and or near the edges of ponds/lakes. Keep in mind though too, you will have a significant advantage when fishing on the sides of a pond since there is simply less room for fish to roam.

You don’t need a boat to fish for bluegill or pan fish either. More often than not, having a boat will be overkill. With these bluegill fishing tips and spots listed above, you should be golden next time when you go out fishing!

Bluegill Fishing Tips, Tricks and Techniques: This is what you’ve been waiting for!
These tips may come off as a little repetitive, but they are key to helping to learn how to fish for bluegill! Read every tip and you will be catching these pan fish in no time! Note: These tips are in no order.

Bigger Predators Mean Bigger Bluegill
Yes, this does sound like something confusing idea but the less smaller bluegill there are in a lake, mean that the bigger the other ones get the chance to get. Less competition will result in more food in which means bigger bluegill. Trust us on this tip!

Research is key
Knowing you lake brings a huge advantage to going in blindly. Without research and knowing your lake, you might as well just kiss that trophy bluegill away. Make sure you look of depth charts, DNR stocking info, bait shop pictures and more.

If you are a true angler, you will take mental notes of your lake to help yourself identify seasonal patterns as bluegill travel throughout the lake.

For example, bluegill at my local lake are only found near lily-pads. Once the summer start coming and more weeds come up, they move towards the center of the lake. Knowing these key signs of where the fish move will help you greatly.

Fish at the Peak Time of the Year: Spawn time
Make sure you fish only at the correct spawning times. Bigger bluegills only spawn at cooler and deeper depths compared to smaller ones therefore, the deep edges of any bluegill colony will hold the biggest fish.

Midsummer Fishing Works
One of the best times is to try fishing for bluegill midsummer as they will be eating the most since the water is at its warmest. These fish will be in deeper water and can be in waters deep as 30 feet or more. Be prepared to search around.

Pick The Best Bait For Bluegill
Often, bluegill will strike at just about anything. If you are simply just striking out on any luck, feel free to try some crickets. You may not be able to pick some up at your local bait store, but they are perfect for those big bluegills. Along with that, wax worms and beetles work good too.

Equipment is Everything
Having the right supplies is key. That includes the right fishing rod along with the line. The smaller and more lightweight, the better. For most situations, simply use 3-4 pound test monofilament fishing line. If you are running into a lot of snags, bump up your test a little bit.

Hook your bait correctly
Bluegills are known to steal bait right off the hook so make sure you wrap your worm or bait enough where it will result in the bluegill being on the hook. At the same time, you want to make sure your bait can move about as it needs to be in order to attract the bluegills. Finding the right balance is key.

Retrieve Slowly: Speed Matters
Have some patience and don’t rush when trying to catch bluegill. You need to retrieve your line slowly as more often than not, you will get the most strikes this way. These fish simply aren’t build to chase down food. They most commonly eat food that is slowly moving. Slow and steady is key to retrieving your lures.

Hook Size Does Matters
You don’t want to use too big of a jig where the bluegill won’t be able to bite it. Don’t use a jig that is any larger than 1/32 ounce. If you are using live bait, only use a #8 or #12 size hook.

Bigger Bluegill Require Bigger Bait
You will need to use larger bait when you are trying to catch larger bluegill. For example: good sized leeches, multiple small worms, night crawlers, or even a grasshopper will work to catch a decent size pan fish. You could even end up using some minnows.

Fish Before and After It Ices Up
Right before and after the water starts icing up is a great time to try to catch bluegill. Keep in mind though you will need to use smaller bait as they will be less hungry.

Trophy Bluegill Fishing Isn’t Easy
The bigger bluegill more often than not won’t be just sitting in a school, they often will a lone fish. They simply won’t be in schools of 20 to 30 fish.

Patience and Persistence is needed
You won’t go out and catch that trophy bluegill right off the bat. It will take time and persistence to catch it. Don’t give up right off the bat.

Bigger Bluegill Look Different
Once they grow over one pound, they start becoming a little different compared to usual bluegill. When they hit roughly 10 inches, their face starts to flatten out and mouth will often look different.

Try Using a Spinner Blade
Place it right in front of a baited hook along with a big night crawler for bait and you might get lucky. I’ve had the best luck simply casting it far out and slowly reeling in. Based on the strikes, you can find where the schools are at.

Try to find a brightly colored, flashy spinner blades such as nickel or chartreuse. These help get the bluegills attention and hopefully make them strike.

Try using a Bobber
Even though a bobber seems like a piece of a amateurs lure set, it perfect for bluegills! Simply cast out and once it hits the water, leave it to wait. If you end up not getting any bites, slowly reel in ten or so feet and then let it sit for a while. Rinse and repeat until you start getting bites.

Seasonal Patterns Matter
Always remember that as the summer starts, bluegills will start heading towards the shallows and leaving the shore. Try to check out deep channels and cover that is in roughly 20 feet of water or even sometimes deeper.

Sometimes Throw Them Back
If you caught a boarder-line big bluegill, you might want to just toss them back and let them get a bit bigger. This will allow the chance for the fish to become the next trophy fish.

And there you have it, our top bluegill fishing tips, tricks and techniques to mastering these pan fish! Don’t spend all day catching nothing when you could be catching something!