Late Summer Bluegill Strategies

Late Summer Bluegills

As the dog days of the summer roll by, fishing strategies change. By late July, water temperatures in most places have reached their peak. The days begin to get a little shorter. Fish change their habitats. Knowing how to target late summer bluegills can lead to some great action on the water. Here are some late summer bluegill strategies.

Go Deep

While small bluegills stay shallow all year round, big bluegills move deep in the summer. Locate large humps, the edge of sunken islands or deep weed beds. Bluegill can be as deep as 40 feet (or deeper) when water temperatures are warm. Larger bluegills will school together and be intermingled with bass. Pike will likely be in the neighborhood as well. Early in the morning, bluegill may be a little shallower but will certainly move to deep humps as the day goes on and the sun warms the water.

Try Spoons

While live baits are always a top choice, spoons are a great alternative when you haven’t stopped by the bait shop lately. Spoons can be both vertically jigged and retrieved. Try a Johnson Splinter Spoon with a modified hook. Swap out the standard hook with a smaller, single hook setup. A simple Eagle Claw Aberdeen hook works great. Add a small plastic trailer to finish off a great presentation. I suggest Berkley PowerBait Power Nymphs but really any small plastic works if moves cleanly.

Stay Mobile

Bluegill schools move fast in the summer. As mentioned earlier, fish will start out shallower when water is coolest in the early morning and move to deeper water as the sun comes out. When you catch a fish, get your bait back down to the same spot right away. If you go 10 minutes without catch another, move on to different location or another angle on your hump or weed bed. If the fish are at least somewhat active, you should catch multiple fish in the same area.

Don’t Forget About Slip-Bobber Rigs

Slips are great for controlling depth and keep a bait in a single spot. While it can be challenging working with 30 feet of line while slip-bobber fishing, it can be extremely rewarding. Walleye fisherman use these rigs regularly to catch slow bite ‘eyes. Floats are great ways to locate fish. After catching a fish or two, use a marker and analyze the spot, time of day and depth. This allows you to replicate your success for future trips out. I recommend using an unweighted Thill Pro Series Float and add your own weight based on your bait, depth and body of water.

Conclusion

While shallow water fishing in the spring and early summer is a blast, your best bet to locating big bluegills is in late summer. Large humps and deep weed beds are your best bets to locating these fish. Remember to move on if you aren’t catching multiple fish in one spot and take note of the depth, structure and time of day that you are slaying them at. Enough talk, get out there and fish!!!

Locating Spring Bluegills with Fishfinders

Locating Spring Bluegills

Spring is a great time to catch fish for bluegills and other panfish. With temperatures rising and the brutality of a cold winter coming to a close, the light switch turns on and fish change their mindset towards feeding to build energy for spawning. While bluegills begin to get more active around the 50 degree water temp mark, they won’t begin to spawn in most places until the water reaches around 60 degrees. In most places this happens between early May and as late as August. Between the time of post-ice out/winter and spawning, bluegills being to bunch up and get shallower, following bait fish, larvae and hatching insects.

Finding Bluegills with Fishfinders

Fishingfinder technology has come a long way over the past 20 years. In the early fishing electronics days, fish finders were primarily just depth finders that might show a blip if there’s an object that somewhat resembles a living creature. However, today fish finders are amazing tools to help locate, track and navigate to fish. Many have color displays, gps systems, uploadable maps and even side imaging. Locating spawning bluegills with fish finders can make a huge difference between catch a few fish and slaying a school. Here are some techniques for locating spring bluegills with Fishfinders.

Basic Fish Finders

Fish finders can be a relatively inexpensive investment. The three big names in Fishfinders are Lowrance, Hummingbird and Garmin. All three of these brands include entry level fish finders that show depth, water temperature and other features for less than $80.00.

As stated earlier, bluegills will be most active with water temperatures above 50 degrees. They will begin spawning at 60. Water temperature can vary a surprisingly large amount on a lake, depending on sunlight, water depth and structure. Bluegills will almost always go to the nearest, warmest feeding areas in the spring. By keeping an eye on water temperature, you can locate the warmer spots, which should lead to more active fish.

Basic Cheap Fishfind

Garmin echo 100 Fishfinder

Keeping an eye on water depth is also imperative for any fishing. In locating spring bluegills, focus on depths of 4 to 8 feet. 4 to 8 feet is a very wide range in the world of lake fishing. Unfortunately, fish are still fish and their patterns can be random. Start at the shallower areas in the 4 feet range. If you aren’t locating any biters, move a bit deeper. When you catch a few fish, note the depth and focus on areas similar to the one you caught fish in.

Higher-End Fish Finders

All three of the big names also produce unbelievably advanced Fishfinders. If you’d like to spend a few thousand, you can. Some of the best features of higher end Fishfinders include: GPS, uploadable maps that you can mark, detailed imagining and side-scan sonar.

Side-Scan Sonar

Bluegill Beds Side Scan Sonar

Amazing Image of Bluegill Beds Located Using Side Scan Sonar from In-Fisherman

Side-Scan Sonar has been a revolutionary development in the serious angler industry. Side-scanning has been around for over 50 years. It was first developed to help crews find and recover wreckage debris and treasure hunters locate lost ships. It works by emitting a fan shaped pulse toward the bottom of the body of water it’s on. By doing so, you get a nice image of the floor from an above-down perspective. For most systems, a blind spot is left directly below the boat. For fisherman, this tool gives a unique look into structure, depth changes, humps, and so much more. It also can give you an amazing look at bluegill nesting areas. Bluegill nests are saucer-shaped areas that are about the size of a large dinner plate. Locating large amounts of nests is an obvious indicator that bluegills are present.

GPS/Maps

If you’re a dedicated angler and you’re in it for the long haul, being able to identify specific spots and mark fish can lead to huge successes down the road. Without GPS, no matter how good you are with paper maps and locating a spot, you WILL be off and it’s nearly impossible to come back to the exact same location and angle you were at during a previous outing. Modern GPS Fishfinders have the ability to save all kinds of data and they are amazing resource to become a more knowledgeable bluegill slayer.

Go fish!

Regardless of whether or not you want to spend money on fancy Fishfinders (or even fishfinders at all), the most important thing is to go outside, get some fresh air and catch some fish!

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.

Structure

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

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!