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Big Bluegills
By John McBride


Did you know that it takes about seven years for a Bluegill to grow up to eleven inches?

It takes a wary, and very predator sensitive fish to last seven years!

Here are some facts I have logged in my 30 years of fishing for LARGE Bluegills.

As soon as the ice starts to leave the lakes here in Indiana, fish the bays, and channels for the large Gills that come in to feed in the warmer water.

After the water warms up to about 55 degrees the small ones come up into 2’ to 6’ of water. The large Gills stay out in the 10’ to 15’ depth feeding on the larger Nymphs, Zoo-plankton, Minnows, and Crustaceans.

You will find a few large Gills along with the small ones when there is a feeding frenzy in the shallows, but mostly they stay out of harms reach to the fishermen, and the fish that prey on them. Everyone knows that you can catch Bluegills when they are bedding, but if you leave the 1’ to 5’ deep beds where the small to medium fish are, and fire a weighted line with a bright colored fly out the other side of the boat, there are HUGE Gills bedding in eight to fifteen foot deep water. On a calm day if you see foam on top the water in the shallows, you may smell an oily/fishy smell that comes from the Gills bedding.

Pre, and post-spawn brings the 8’ to 10’ depth up to optimum feeding for large Gills. Also this is about the only time I have found Gills larger than 9”at the weeds edge. Just at sunrise, and just before sunset seems to be the most productive times. A fisherman that has been after large Gills a few years can tell you that on a calm day, you can hear them feeding.

This is when they are “kissing” the underside of lily pads, sucking off Nymphs, Grubs, Waterspiders, and Grass Shrimp.

Mid-summer takes the large Gills out deep, and depending on the lake they can be up to 30’ deep. They like the flats off of points and bays that are rocky, or sandy with a depth that is about 5’ shallower than the deep, with a sudden drop-off to the deeper water. This way they can slip up and eat, and zip back quickly to the deep if there is a predator approaching.

In the fall they travel back to the same 8’ to 15’ spot that they were at that spring. Usually this spot is straight out from the beds where they were born. You can catch them here when they are feeding up till the ice covers it. And if you walk out and fish around that same spot, they will be there all winter.

They may be more bite-shy, but they are there.

Except for ice-fishing, try a 5 wt. fast 9’ quick tip rod, over spooled with 6 wt line, and maybe even a 5x tippet.

Use Nymphs, Clousers, Deceivers, and Poppers in hook sizes around size 4 to thin out the smaller fish bites, and remember to TWITCH, not strip fast.

This will produce the results you are looking for.

Remember that every lake is different, and it takes the right mix of weed cover, food supply, depth, and predator control to produce LARGE Bluegills. HAVE FUN! ~ John McBride
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