Spring Bluegill Fishing – 3 Essential Elements

Spring Bluegill Fishing

Springtime brings excitement to the lives of eager fisherman. Watching ice melt or checking extended forecasts becomes an hourly ritual in many parts of the country. The anticipation of getting out on an open lake or casting from the banks of the local river can get the most patient person giddy for fishing. Many believe early spring is the best time of the year to catch trophy fish. Bluegills are no exception. Here are 3 essential elements to spring bluegill fishing

Water Temperature

spring bluegill fishing temperature

A light switch flips on in those first few warming weeks once the water hits that perfect temperature. Many believe that magical temperature is 50 degrees. Some have it down to an exact number like 52 or 53 degrees. When the water reaches that magic number, bluegills begin to migrate from their wintering holes to the closest shallow areas they find with some cover. Most modern depth finders or fish finders have temperature gauges. If you’re bank fishing or wading, try using a common cooking thermometer.

Water temperature also varies greatly based on which part of a lake or river you are on. Shallow areas on sunny sides will almost certainly be up to a few degrees warmer than other locations. That degree or two can make all the difference. Start at the warmest location first. Early season Bluegill tend to congregate to these locations.


Finding habitat is vital in any season. Spring is no different. Despite being aggressive, predatory fish, bluegills still worry about being eaten. And rightfully so. Muskies, northern pike, catfish and even large bass can chomp down on 8+ inch bluegill with ease. Cover varies from water body to water body. In some lakes, rock piles and sunken logs can be the ticket.  Weeds typically aren’t too prevalent in early spring but you might find some hardy weeds off the bottom. Docks and boat houses that are near deep water can also hold schools in the right settings.

Spring Bluegill Fishing Sunken tree Cover

Sunken trees can provide cover for concentrations of spring bluegills. photo via Joelk75 flickr

Structure is vital to spring bluegill fishing because it’s the best way to find concentrations of fish. You might stumble across a bull in transit or get lucky in a spot. However, to catch multiple fish, you need structure. If you aren’t having luck with a specific type of structure, mix it up and try another type. Rocks or trees or weeds.


Presentation, in fishing terms, is the lure or bait you use, how you use it. Obviously, there’s no way you’re catching a fish without presenting something it wants to eat. Spring bluegill fishing is a great way to test out different presentations. A variety of techniques will work.

Despite this, there are a few consistent elements that all bluegill fishermen should apply. The best advice is to fish slow. In any season, bluegills aren’t known for following baits long distances or striking from far away. In the spring time, this is double true. They can be slow to make a run at a jig or bait. It’s almost as if they are debating it in their small fish mind. Little or even no movement can land a large amount of bluegills. Consider utilizing a float to control depth and movement.

Common early spring bluegill fishing live baits include wax worms, red worm/night crawler pieces, and crickets. Small leeches can also work very well but bluegills are masters at pecking them off. A number 8 hook works really well. Never go bigger than a number 6 hook if you’re looking for just bluegills.

Spring Fishing Atlas Mike's Glo Scents

Some fishermen have great success using artificial baits as well. Small plastics and Berkley power grubs will frequently catch fish. A surprisingly few amount of panfish anglers use bait sprays. Bait sprays give you’re your jig that little extra kick that can be the difference between a small nibble that’s spit out and full slurp. Berkley Gulp! Alive! Attractant Spray is widely available and comes in many flavors. Atlas Mike’s Glo Scents is another cheap oil that does the trick.

Go Fish!

Spring bluegill fishing is fantastic. You can’t catch fish sitting on your couch or at your computer. Get out there and slay them!