Once bluegills have finished spawning in the spring and they are no longer concentrated in shallow bedding areas, larger adult bluegill can be hard to locate. Because of this, many anglers give up targeting this tasty fish until the next spring. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are three tips on how to locate and catch this scrappy fighter and great table fare after the warm days of summer have arrived.
First and foremost, go deep! The larger bluegill (and often other species as well) move out from shore and down into deeper water where temperatures remain much cooler. In most typical Michigan lakes this means fishing about 10-15 feet down either with slip bobbers or drifting without a bobber using a lightly-weighted line (1-2 small split shot), a small hook on the end, and enough line out to keep your bait at those depths. In lakes with clear water, you may have to go as deep as 20 feet or more.
Second, try different baits. While half a crawler or a large worm with a small hook in just one end is always good, the larger fish also love leeches or crickets if your local bait shop has them available. The tough skin on a leech usually allows you to catch several fish on each bait, and the wiggling legs on a cricket seem to be irresistible. Scented leech imitations or even the wax worms used while ice fishing can also work.
And third, don’t be afraid to move away from the shore. During warm weather the larger bluegill often suspend out in the middle of the lake. A slow, leisurely drift without a bobber across deeper areas can often lead to finding such a suspended school. You can then stop and target them with slip bobbers or keep drifting through the same area resulting in catching several of the larger fish suspended there.
But beware! You never know when a much larger fish such as a walleye, bass or good-size yellow perch might also be hanging out in that deeper water and hungry enough to grab that tasty morsel drifting by. Have fun! Relax! And good fishin’!
This tip was written by: Jeff Braunscheidel, Southeast Michigan Fisheries Biologist.