The bluegill, also called bream or sunfish, is a widespread species of panfish that is native to the eastern and central part of the United States. The bluegill adapted easily to other parts of the country and now exists throughout most of the nation. It derives its name from the bluish coloring on the bottom of its gills. Bluegill is a popular target for anglers, with various techniques that people utilize to catch it.
Ultra-light spinning rods and reels rigged with 2 lb. to 6 lb. test fishing line will suffice for float fishermen after bluegill. This method of catching these fish involves securing a fishing float, or bobber, above a No. 6 long shanked hook and baiting the hook with a small piece of night crawler. There is no need for the person to put a large piece of worm on the hook, as the bluegill is quite skilled at nibbling away and stealing it without the angler hooking it. By using just a smidgen of worm baited on the shank portion of the hook the angler forces the fish to bite much closer to the point, precipitating its capture. The float is set to keep the worm suspended at a desired depth and the line cast out. The angler monitors the float for any indication that the bluegills are after the worm. If it goes under or starts heading in one direction, the person sets the hook and reels the fish in.
Bottom fishing for bluegill is an oft-used technique, especially in rivers where current can make using a fishing float problematic. The same tackle used by the float fishermen is perfect for this technique as well. The angler will attach split shots to her line about a foot and a half from the hook and employ the same sized pieces of worm as float fishermen do. After casting out the angler will wait to feel a bite as the bait slowly sinks to the bottom. Fishermen will carefully observe their line for any sign that a bluegill has grabbed the bait and is fleeing with it. The line will suddenly tighten in some instances and in others, it will slowly move away as the bluegill takes the bait and swims. Setting the hook at the first sign of line movement typically results in the bluegill's capture, but if the fish eludes the initial attempt the angler simply casts out to the same spot and waits for the fish to return.
The difficult part of ice fishing for bluegill is locating the schools of fish. Bluegill typically head to deeper water, from 12 to 15 feet deep, as the cold weather approaches. The serious bluegill ice angler is wise to invest in a fish finder to find where the fish are staying. Once an angler does pinpoint a group, she will drill a hole in the ice with an auger. Employing a jigging rod the person will lower a small-sized jigging spoon down the hole to the depth the bluegills are. Lifting the lure slowly about 2 feet and allowing it to drop unfettered will often elicit a bite from bluegills. Many anglers will tip these jigging spoons with waxworms, mealworms or small bits of a shiner to make them irresistible to bluegill. It is not unheard of to capture dozens of bluegill from a single spot using this technique.