River fishing is almost like an entirely different activity than lake fishing. Elements like water levels, current, changes in structure, and recent weather like heavy rainfall all dramatically affect your ability to catch river fish. Bluegill river fishing, in particular, is challenging. Locating concentrations of bluegills on rivers is much more difficult to many than on lakes. Also, many believe that river bluegills simply do not get as big as lake gills. While that may be the case in many areas, several state records were caught on rivers. Here are 3 bluegill river fishing tips to help you land more river bluegills.
“Tight lining” is a technique many fishermen use on rivers that involves a sinker and live bait off the bottom. Floats are extremely effective ways to catch panfish on lakes but current on rivers makes this challenging. Many river fisherman prefer tight lining to keep baits in honey holes or spots where fish are likely to pass through. Use the lightest weight you can that will still keep your bait in place. Attach a nightcrawler or cricket to a #8 hook about 9 inches above the sinker.
2. Think Like You’re Ice Fishing
Anyone that has experienced river ice fishing know how challenging and rewarding it can be. Ice anglers focus on backwater channels and dips in the river where a sand bar or natural curve come into play. This can be a good spring and early summer tactic as well. Early season bluegill will be concentrating in these shallow areas to spawn (or attempt to spawn). In-fisherman created a great graphic that shows where gills congregate. Later in the summer, oxygen depletion can set in to backwater areas which causes fish to move back into the main channel of rivers.
3. No Live Bait? Try Spoons
If you’re out of live bait or just don’t like using it, try spoons. Small ice fishing spoons work best when concentrating on bluegills. A 1/12 ounce Acme Kastmaster is deadly. For river fishing, you may want to modify it by changing to a single hook (from a treble). The nice thing about the Kastmaster is it can be cast and retrieved as well as vertically jigged. Cast out down current and retrieve slowly. It’s important to keep your bait up as snags on rivers are ruthless and a good way to be out of a few nice spoons in a hurry.