Bluegill Ice Fishing Tips

Bluegill Ice Fishing Tips
Ice fishing for bluegills is extremely popular all over the US where conditions allow. The vast majority of bluegills taken through the ice will be caught on a jigging rod, which is a hand-held rod and reel set-up much smaller than a traditional fishing pole. Knowing where to find bluegill in the winter and what to use to entice them to bite will provide hours of ice fishing fun for an angler.

Finding bluegill

If you are going to be a serious bluegill fisherman through the ice, then you need to invest in a fish finder. These portable units allow you to locate fish and economize your time on the ice. Without the benefit of a fish finder the bluegill ice fisherman will need to drill plenty of holes until he finds the action. In the early days of the ice fishing season concentrate on weedy areas, as these will almost always contain bluegill. As the weather gets colder and the ice thicker the bluegill will migrate to deeper waters, making them more difficult to pinpoint but not impossible. Constantly drilling holes and fishing for short periods of time until the fish either bite or prove they aren't there is the best method to locate bluegill in deeper water without a fish finder. Bluegills seem to be attracted to any depressions that may be on the bottom of a pond or lake, so any prior knowledge of such bottom conditions can work in your favor. Experienced bluegill enthusiasts also know that farm ponds and smaller lakes such as those under 20 acres in surface area often hold the biggest bluegills. Get permission from a landowner to try out this theory, and if you can scout out such bodies of water in the warmer months for bluegill you will have a better idea of what to expect.


Anyone after these fish needs to use light tackle that can easily detect the slightest nibble. An ultralight set up is the best for bluegill and it should be equipped with 2-pound test line since the average bluegill weighs just a few ounces. Utilize small jigs with small hooks; size 10 through 16 jigs are optimal for catching bluegill. The higher the number is for a jig, the smaller the size of the hook on it is. There are two kinds of jigs that are excellent for bluegills. One is the vertical jig while the other is the horizontal. These jigs look similar except vertical jigs have the eye that attaches the jig to the fishing line on one end while a horizontal jig's eye is on top of the body of the lure; one will sit vertically in the water and the other horizontally. The other type of lure used for bluegills through the ice is the jigging spoon. These small lures weigh about 1/16 oz. and have very small treble hooks at one end. Purchase a variety of colors of both jigs and spoons if you plan to target bluegill.

Bluegill strategy

Drop a jig through a hole cut in the ice and allow it to settle down near the bottom. It pays to be quiet while fishing for bluegill so be sure to avoid banging any equipment around on the ice as this can spook the entire school of fish, sending them elsewhere. Once a jig is in place do not shake it violently up and down, which is a common error many people after bluegill through the ice make. Using short twitching motions with the ice rod you can make the jig move but be careful not to move it up and down too much. The ideal way to fish a jig for bluegill is to make it appear alive but to avoid changing its depth, keeping it within about half an inch of the same spot depth-wise as the rod tip shakes the lure. Adding a waxworm or a tiny piece of a minnow to the tip of the jig's hook will almost always bring a positive response from bluegill. If the action is sporadic or slow, then change jig colors until a combination that turns the action up is found. Fish a jigging spoon differently than a jig when looking to catch a bluegill. Drop the lure in and let it settle to the desired depth before bringing it up about a foot. Then let it flutter back to its previous position and shake it very lightly once it gets back to where it was. Repeat this process over and over until the fish bite. When bluegill action gets hot and heavy, it is advisable to work as a team if you have enough people along. While some can be fishing, others can be putting waxworms and shiner bits on the hooks after a fish is caught and others can be filleting the keepers.

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