I don't have a boat. Just a float tube and an inflatable pontoon. I also use waders a lot of times.
I always start with 4 lb. test, then tie on a 1/32 ounce chartreuse jig head. After that I really like to use the Bass Pro Shops triple ripple 2 inch twister bodies, with the best one being black body/green tail. It looks just like a damselfly larvae struggling through the water.
It is absolutely deadly!
Better yet, I often find that many other species of fish will hit this rig as well.
Needless to say I go through a LOT of twisters in a year!
Josh, I use an ugly stik ultra lite, 4lb test with a spinning reel to fit. I fish out of my float tube alot, and I just hunt them down, starting with fishing the edges of cover, rocks, shoreline, and then move deeper if i don't find them there.
I may add more to this later as I'm getting pulled away to a meeting.
I enjoy using fly-fishing tackle with a weight-forward floating line, and about a 3x tippet. My own experience in fishing primarily ponds or small lakes, is this allows me to fish small artificials (flies...mainly small poppers, nymphs, or woolly bugger-type flies)...and fish them SLOW.
When fishing bigger lakes, a bobber and 1/32 or 1/64 oz jighead tipped with a crappie tube jig body (with about 1/2 the length of the legs ripped off....bluegills are notorious short-biters), or about 1/3 of a nightcrawler. This can be fished with a slow retrieve, or even under a bobber.
And then there's ice-fishing, which is a great way to catch bluegills too! A small vertical or horizontal jig (let the fish tell you which they prefer that day), tipped with a waxworm.
I like 6 lb. line (haven't found one that I prefer over another) on a lightweight rod with spinning reel.
A small slip bobber and just enough weight to make it stand up. I like aberdeen hooks with a long shank,
and usually bait them with red worms (wigglers are the best). Sometimes I'll use bee-moth larvae. Don't
have any electronics on my boat, I just wing it.
Most of my Bluegill fishing has been on clear, upstate NY lakes. In the spring, nothing is more fun than a flyrod, a few flies and a couple of hours after work.
For me the fishing for Bluegill becomes challenging in midsummer when the BG school up in deeper water. I like to search until I find schools of mature BG. Years ago I really got to understand the midsummer BG Bite while trying to drag worms at 30ish ft depths for walleye in the day. Sometimes I'd get into 8-10" bluegill on the drift - and it was a lot of fun. Since I rarley hooked up on Walleyes during the day on my home lakes, I started fishing for bluegills on purpose.
From Mid-summer till fall - I look for mud flats, in the 30ft depth range. Our home lake is about 50ft at the deepest, and from experience, I assume that the Dissolved O2 past 40ft isn't very good (this depth probably fluctuates). A little strucuture nearby is nice but not always neccessary, the flat is why they are there an in schools - (invertebrate factory) . One has to be willing to move around - and electronics sometimes don't show these fish really well. One thing though, is that if an area is good one time - its usually good day after day - at the same times, in the next few years as well.
I use worms, whole or 1/2 Nightcrawlers to start- but once I locate the bigger BG - I'll drop back to 1" sections.
I'm still learning - and right now in our fall waters, I'm using tiny hooks and Pea Size pcs of worm, on a light line with little weight. They seem to be more like 10-15 ft right now, on the outer edges of still green weedbeds.
I also do most of my gill fishing in deeper water 30-40 feet.......for the last several years my partner and I have targeted these fish using spoons (Swedes, Kastmasters, and Blue Fox rattlin flash spoons) and incorporate the use of light braided lines (2-3 lb dia.) and Flourocarbon leaders....The reaction strikes that we receive from using these spoons, some up to 1/4 oz, can be quite vicious.
Bluegill angling can be as serious or as nonchalant as you want it to be. That's one of the major draws to the species for myself. That being said - we tend to let the fish tell us how to fish for them.
I went back through the last two(2) years of journals - looking for a single technique or method that may hav estuck out, but there wasn't any. 83% of the time we're vertical jigging deep structure with jigs. (deep and structure being relative terms). The other techniques seemed to be combinations of slip float use, fly fishing, and trolling.
Sonar use is extremely high on my list - sitting at the #1 spot of importance the majority of the time. I don't use it so much for actually finding fish, but more so for finding underwater structure that I know the 'gills are relating to.
If you follow the blogs, you'll get a feel for what I'm doing at the time, why I'm doing it, and either the positive or negative effects of the decisions made on the water.
Contrary to popular belief - mature bluegill in public water aren't child's play. You have to do your homework, apply the theory, then execute your plan. I'm not going to pretend every trip is a dream excursion - sometimes the pieces come together, other times you'll leave wondering if you've go the right picture on the box.
Dave - If I'm relating to MM's situation correctly; we fish water that can be anywhere from 40-110ft. deep. The fish we are after may be parked anywhere within that water column. Most of our summer areas are in 45-47ftw with a thermocline stopping the 'gills anywhere from 18-23ft. depending on where the temperature break sets up from year to year.
I really like following a thermocline to the spot it intersects a slope - talk about a neighborhood block party!
Just to clarify...are you fishing BELOW the thermocline at times? I've heard in some lakes there indeed IS adequate oxygen below the thermocline to support certain fish species, just not as much as above it.
I'm wanting to clarify, in the thought that for bigger fish, maybe I need to fish deeper than my mind tells me I should be?