It’s that time again when we transition from the early spring crappies to the bluegills. The timing is always perfect, as the crappies wrap up their spawn and the bluegills move right in and take over the shallows. There are a few things that I have learned over the years on how to target them and where to have the most success.
Once the crappies are done, I’ll target the same areas and from year to year, they will setup usually in the same locations. But not always and it depends on the water temperature. Those magic temperatures are between 62-68 degrees and I will take an overcast day any time because you can move around the shallows without spooking them.
Now on a sunny day, the bite can be somewhat tricky because they will get spooked with any type of movement. If you’re fishing out on a sunny day set your boat in an area where you can cast to them.
Typically, once you cast in the area, which can be in 2-4 FOW, jig your presentation slowly and just wait for the action to begin. The type of gear that I have found to be successful is a very small cork bobber and a slow falling jig like the Northland Tackle FireFly-1/64oz tipped with a plastic or wax worm if you prefer. I normally will use plastic, because this time of year these gills are aggressive and bite just about anything you present.
The other thing that I will do is just cast without the float and let the presentation fall naturally. This is so much fun watching the jig slowly fall in and out of the pencil weeds and the gills will just come in from anywhere to pick the jig up. Set the HOOK!
Most of the times when I’m out in the thick of the pencil weeds, I just park the boat in the weeds and let the boat move on its own. This allows me to pick out the gills that I want to target. Yes, you’ll get small ones, but the bigger gills are abundant, especially the bulls.
At this time, the bulls are protecting the nest and they will protect it at all cost. Now, this is for a normal springtime weather pattern and when the temperature is warmer than normal, look at going deeper.
This happens once every 3-4 years and I’ll have areas where the bluegills will be in 6-8 FOW. It will also all depend on the lake your fishing as well. This pattern I found about 8 years ago when I was searching for them in the shallows and I was getting somewhat puzzled as to why they weren’t in.
The water temperature was in the 70’s and I quickly decided to troll out a little deeper to see what I would find. Sure enough, I came across 4 pockets of gravel surrounded with weeds. In the pockets of gravel sat several big bulls that were protecting the nests.
This is when I took the float off and just used a small and light jig. Cast it out over the area where the fish are and let it fall. You can see the action and reaction of the bluegills as it gets closer and set the hook. Talk about fun!
Now to switch gears, let’s talk about rod selection. It sounds simple, but when fishing crappies to bluegills during the spring months, your rod can make all the difference. There are always two rods that I have in the boat. An 8’ St. Croix Panfish series rod and a 13’ cane pole. The 8’ rod is great for casting and for getting into the areas in the weeds.
When the weeds are thick and are congested and you can’t get in with a boat, the 13’ cane pole is the perfect rod for the job. Just move slowly outside the shallow weed line and look for those openings. Put your presentation in and work it slowly and wait.
You’ll normally get a gill, but if not, just continue moving until you see another opening. One of the main reasons for the cane pole is not to spook the gills nor disturb their nests.
The one last thing to keep in mind when your fishing bluegills are that they are very easy to target and to catch, so be selective if you are keeping some for a meal. During this time of year, I’ll release them and let them continue with their spawn. For me, I really enjoy targeting them and catching them, but I really feel that it’s necessary to let those bigger gills go.
So, the next time you’re out targeting bluegills in the spring, just keep a few things in mind. Water temperature, jig selection, with either live bait or plastics, and rod selection. These will help you target and catch more fish. For more reports and stories, you can visit us at www.hsmoutdoorsllc.com
Until next time, be safe and we will see you in the outdoors.