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101: Bluegill Fishing

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Bluegill Fishing

The Bluegill is one of the most popular of all panfish. And according to many anglers, the most tasty.  Adding to their popularity is probably the fact that the Bluegill is the most easily caught of all panfish and can be taken by even the most inexperienced angler.

Kentucky and Barkley lakes boast a good population of Bluegill and these fish can be readily taken year round.  Although Bluegill will eat most anything they can get into their small mouths their primary forage is aquatic and territorial insects and worms.

Spring Patterns

Bluegill typically spawn on Kentucky/Barkley lakes when the water temperatures reach the lower 70's which occurs around the first week of May.  During March the Bluegill will still be found in their wintering areas around cover in 15-20 feet of water around cover such as brush piles off deep water points.

They are also found on underwater humps in the bays as well as around deep water docks, especially those with sunken cover.

When the water temperatures start warming into the 60's which normally occurs during early to mid April these fish will start moving toward the spawning areas which are found on the shallow flats and cuts in the bays.  These transitioning fish can be taken along creek channel banks near cover such as stumps, brushpiles and stakebeds by fishing with worms and crickets under bobbers.

Docks located along these routes are especially good target areas for these fish. When the water temperatures reach the lower 70's, the Bluegill move to the spawning areas and prepare large beds for spawning.  These beds can hold large numbers of Bluegills and the fishing can be extremely good.

These beds are easily recognized as "cleared" areas on the bottom around vegetation and wood cover.  Bedding Bluegill can be easily taken by fishing with worms and crickets fished just off the bottom or by slowly reeling worms on split shot rigs or small jigs across the beds bumping bottom.

Summer Patterns

After the spawn is over and the water warms into the high 70's,  normally around the first week of June, the Bluegill will move from the shallow areas to deeper water along the lead in creek channels.

Summer Bluegill especially like to hold around rocky areas with some wood cover at around 6 to 10 ft.  Bluegill also congregate in the summer around docks with wood cover.  The best Bluegill fishing in the summer time occurs early in the morning and late in the day and during the night hours.

Bluegill fishing during these low light hours is especially good during the summertime when the annual willow fly hatches occur.  These hatches normally start around mid June and last thru July.  One can find these hatches in a number of places but most prevalent is around willow trees associated with the shorelines.

When these insects are emerging from the bottom of the lake the Bluegill can be found gorging on them and can be taken in large numbers by fishing with crickets, worms and even the willow flies themselves under bobbers.

Fall Patterns

When the water cools down below 70 degrees the Bluegill will once again move toward shallower water and can be found around shallow cover such as brush piles and stakebeds as well as vegetation.

These fish will be feeding up for the winter and readily take worms or crickets fished under bobbers near the shallow cover.  These fish will remain in the shallow water areas until the water temperatures drop into the lower 50's at which time they will migrate to their deeper water wintering areas.

Winter Patterns

During the winter Bluegills can be found in deeper water off points and over humps in 15-20 ft of water.  They will be holding tight to cover such as brush piles and underwater stake beds.  These winter Bluegills can be taken by fishing vertically in the cover with worms.

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Fishing 101 Credits:

Written by Dave Stewart, Bass Buster Guide Service
Edited by Shawn Dunnaway
Fishing 101 may not be reproduced or reprinted and is provided exclusively by ExploreKentuckyLake.com

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Photo by Jennifer Dunnaway

If the road conditions permit, a drive through a snow-covered Land Between The Lakes is a must! This winter wonderland is every photographers dream come true.