Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

I have gone to a farm pond for the past two days. Friday I rode around it and decided to fish a spot that frequently has bedding bluegill each year. I caught 18 before dark. So I decided to come back on Saturday a little earlier in the day(3:30) with a buddy. On April 3rd 2010, with two coolers we caught 96 12-14oz bluegill!! That's the earliest they have ever bed in my experience. Are other bluegill fishermen finding them on bed already? If not, what time do they usually for everyone? My buddy doesn't think they are bedding, but catching that many fish how could they not???

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Last year, I found bedding bluegills in local ponds on April 24 th, after a 4 day run of 90 degree weather warmed the shallows up enough to have them bedding. This was the earliest I have ever seen bedding gills in central Maryland. Usually, they bed from the 3rd week of May to about the first of July in Mason-Dixon country. Traditional gill spawning peaks at 70 to 74 degrees F.

Luke, you might want to consider a little conservation if your hot pond is small...a hundred big bluegills like that, if removed from a small waterway, can seriously damage the quality of fishing. I have seen 2 to 4 acre ponds literally wiped out by the steady harvest of the adult bluegills within the span of a single season. This is especially so during the spawn, when protective, guardian males are needed to guard the nests.

Clearly, you had an exceptional day. Enjoy and protect your pond!
Luke, glad to here you "tore 'em up" Friday. The prettier the weather gets the fewer chances I seem to have to go. The weather has been cold and wet down my way this winter, just like the Farmer's Almanac said it would be. I went about a week prior to your haul and caught a few scattered. Now that I'm tied up they're hungry!

I posted a discussion about a year ago on here, "If He Pee's On You Are You In Bed With Him?" I got some fun answers and some thoughtful ones, but I'm still not sure if it's a tell. I guess the only way I know for sure about the bed question is if I see the beds and catch 'em from that spot. Out of 96 of 'em, did you get showered??? I would really like to know that answer. Call it my "peed on" survey. Also, how deep were they? What was your bait/lure and were they gills, shellcrackers or mixed? The same local guru who told me about the peed on thing also recommended The Ultimate Prime Time Fishing Calendar, which I now have. Friday the 3rd was listed as a fair day, not good or excellent, just fair, with the arrow pointing down! The rating number was only 29 with high 60's and 70's being good to excellent. So I didn't go. Oh Well!!! Plus I had to work. It's always somethin'.

I've been around long enough to have learned one lesson about gills. I'd rather catch a bunch than clean a bunch. So I let a lot go. Even the big bulls. I just picture them defending their beds from those pesky bass that are all the time gettin' on my hook eatin' my bluegill bait!

Boogieman
Boogieman, if you use the palm of your hand to keep the dorsal fins down always point your thumb away from you and you can eleminate the problem of getting peed on.
The Boogieman ain't interested in holding technique. He wants to know if that is a tell that you are on or near a bed. Since you are going to take more pictures and document your catches better than you used to, keep up with the pee factor, no matter which way you hold 'em. Report back to me.

I have been accused of having cold hands, pointing them the wrong direction and squeezing them too hard. I can take a joke. The question now is, can his Lordship take notes? While he's haulin' 'em in? That's when it seems to happen to me, when I'm haulin' 'em in. I think! I ain't been haulin' 'em in this year yet.

And let the record be clear. I ain't above keeping them off the bed. They reportedly bed year round down here (not last winter I bet). I just don't keep more than I want to clean. And I let all the 3, 4 and 5lb gills go, fer genetic poorpussis'. And the ones that miss the hook shot basket toss. And the butterbeans. And them bait stealin' bass. I let them go way out there. It ain't no hook shot with them. I ain't tried punting them. Yer Lordship, that's something else you can report back to me on. Punting bait stealin' bass. JUST KIDDING! DON'T YOU TRY IT!!!
Jim,

It's a 20-25 acre lake, and fished heavily every season for bluegill and shellcracker. Tons are pulled out each season, you think this could still harm the fishing?

Boogieman,
I did get pee'd on a few times. Only one shellcracker. I have been raising red wigglers for 3 years, so that's always my choice of bait. I now have some fillets in the freezer. Hope to take my daughter today after work!
Get your daughter to text me the GPS co-ords for that lake. Big font if possible. That's what I like. Big gills and Big fonts. And young folks to figure out how to gadget it for me. We want picture's of her haulin' 'em in! She'll show you how to take the pics.

Good thing you ain't raising crickets, you'd still be cleanin' your last catch.

Boogieman
i went on april 3rd too here in alabama and we found a bed. my best friend and i caught 75 bluegill on little beetle spin bodies(without the spinner) and hair jigs
Hey Luke...not knowing the history of the pond, I would still believe that a steady harvest, or 'tons' of fish as you described, would have to eventually harm the overall quality and reduce the average size of the crackers and gills. Maybe a lot sooner than you think.

I have found that panfishing is the 'final frontier' of catch and release fishing. Many people are old school, that is, they catch a hundred, they keep a hundred. I enjoy eating gills and crappie. But I always try to consider the water and the volumn of harvest and adjust accordingly.

Last year, I discovered a 8 acre public lake near my home that was chock full of bluegills averaging close to 10 inches. Few people fish it, and I am cautious as to who I tell about it. I caught a couple of hundred gills there, but only kept 10 fish, on two separate occasions. The rest, including more than two dozen fish over 10 inches, were released. I believe that if the word got out my great local lake would fall within a two year period of steady, legal harvest of 50 gills, per angler, per day.

Larger waterways can tolerate more harvest than smaller bodies. Fish as you see fit, but I would hate to see your good fishery damaged from 'tons' of fish being removed.
I agree. Who needs to keep 70 to 100 fish anyway. Well, maybe someone growing wiskers and purring alot? I'll bet I'm safe in saying the majority of those fish go bad or freezer burn and never get fried. What a waste. Be considerate of others and not so selfish! I have access to a subdivision lake and I never take a gill home because there are kids who live there and need to lay down their electronic device and get some sun and fresh air. What if the lake gets fished out and we loose another generation of outdoorsman to PETA?
Jim and Mike, I can see a big difference between Northern fishing attitudes and Southern fishing attitudes, First your limit is only 25, it must be because of the short growing season. If you want to reduce it to 10 fish/day /limit, I,m all for you , I believe local anglers know best.
As for your question " Who needs to keep 75-100 fish /day, I Do, but I'm from down South and we have fish frys and invite the neighbors and friends. What I normally do is cook half the catch fresh and freeze the other half so we don't have to go chop a hole in the ice in the wintertime to get fish, and we do a good job freezing it,we have had plenty of practice, so it doesn't freezer burn. We try to have fish at least every other week in the winter so , No this isn't feeding my ego , it 's feeding my friends and neighbors.
Where I fish down South , we may have to put up with snakes and alligators, but it's in places where you couldn't manage it anyways, Mother Nature does it for us. Sounds like up north you all should put in feeders , " like Richmond Mill" to expand the carring capacity of the little ponds it sounds like you fish in. You might have to figure out how to get the fish food under the ice.
I know I take kids fishing every year to introduce them to fishing and some of them are pretty good, How many did you take last year?
So I guess over all , we have it pretty good in the South, if you let us locals manage it.

I Eat Bluegill
I Eat BigBluegill

Yes, there is a big difference in northern and southern gill fishing. In the south, they are bedding already with the first full moon of spring. It has been cool up till then and I don't think the water temps are in the 70 to 74 degree range yet. I'm further south and they were in the upper 50's a few days before Luke found his beds. There goes that theory. Another is shellcrackers bed earlier than gills. Luke and his buddy only had one shellcracker out of 96 caught. There goes that theory. Another is that gills bed on the full moon. Well, they did get 'em around the full. But I seem to always do better around the dark moon, and I hunt beds. Got one coming up the 15th. It's been warming up good but a cool front is coming in tomorrow with night air temps back in the low 40's forecast. I may have to wear my winter bed huntin' PJ's.

Boogieman
Lots of things come together to determine how many fish you should keep. A pond that is underfished and hasn't a good predator population will become overcrowded with bream in a short while, down here in the Deep South. The pond will support only so many pounds of fish, so the greater their numbers, the smaller their size.

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