Do you love big bluegill?
One thing I have noticed, season after season, is that once the water temperatures drop below 55 F the bluegills show a marked preference for smaller jigs and baits. Yesterday, 11-11-14, I had two rods rigged with small jigs...one was the Pink Shrimp Auto at 1/32 oz and a # 6 hook and the other was a 1/64th oz shad dart head with a #8 hook. Both jigs were spiked with very small worm segments and as the evening wore on the baits just got smaller as the gill wanted just a hint of bait on the jig. Both were fished on 4 lb mono with 5 ft drops below small sensitive bobbers. Worm segments were approximately 1/4 inch or slightly smaller.
The PSA caught some fish, but was clearly outfished by the SD head, likely because of it smaller size. Got just as many bites on the Auto, but missed many more fish. The bite was soft with the small plastic oval bobber just 'tilting' at times or slowly going under.
More than likely, I will go to 100th and even 1/200th oz Trout Magnet Heads as the water temps continue to drop and tip with a couple maggots or perhaps a wax worm. And, will likely have to switch to more sensitive bobbers as well.
Yesterdays totals were 50 gills/seeds and 2 bass. Fish were stacked up against the dam face as the wind blew in heavily from the south west on this 6 acre public lake in southern PA. Five ft down, suspended over 8 ft of water.
This is very interesting and exactly what I saw today.......I fished the same area Sunday morning as I did earlier this afternoon....Sunday I had very good success on a #10 BroBug in 55 degree water........Went back today with water temps riding in the middle 50s with heavy overcast and drizzle.....Picked up my BroBug and got to work, several early predators and a few other taps without commitment......Water temps within a degree of Sunday but my gut was telling me to try something even smaller than the BroBug because the bite was slower than Sunday.......I landed on a 1/100th ball jig from Celsius and picked out the smallest grass shrimp in my bucket.......Passed back through the same area fished earlier in the trip and bingo.......the takes began and I added 39 gills by the end of the trip bringing today's Veteran's Day total to 42 with just three coming on the larger BroBug....this is an adjustment I have made since making my home on the Albemarle....this wasn't required or desired growing up in south Louisiana but has extended my fishing to year round here in coastal North Carolina......something to chew on that might improve your cold water chances and perhaps extend your fishing a bit......it must be fished with the proper indicator to read the subtle reactions of cold water fish......
That's it Jeffrey...even though a 1/64th oz jig is pretty small, it, too, can sometimes be too large for discriminating gills and crappies that might be feeding on smaller stuff yet. With our 50 degree water sure to plunge with this coming weeks cold front, I am sure that this scenario will rule the day as it gets colder.
Interesting info Jim makes you have to think.
Yep. I think many anglers simply don't understand what it takes to consistently take fish in cold water. Ice anglers do, but they are a small group when compared to the overall big picture. As Jim explains, these tactics will also produce fish when water cools, and are not just for the hard water crowd......if your water temps fall into the 40-55 degree range you will obviously never see ice, but the methodology Jim describes here will still produce fish for you.
As the water cools we have to downsize our offerings and the cooler the water gets you'll see the fish won't go as far to get it so we almost have to drop it on there nose and hope you can get the fishes interest with the bait size and color hoping everything gets zeroed in. Sometimes you really have to work for them scaly creatures sometimes it seams effortless. I guess that's why they call it fishing.
You're right, Dick.
One way I have found to locate pre-ice, cold water gills is to fish the thermal banking that occurs when warmer surface water stacks up against a windward shoreline. Warmer by only a few degrees, but enough to concentrate fish and kick start a food chain that includes plankton and zoo-plankton and minnow forage.
Yes, it means that you'll have to fish with the wind literally blowing in your face, but bundle up and stick with it and I bet you'll be amazed at the numbers, and quality, of the fish you'll catch.
Thanks again Jim it all so interesting.
I personally agree with the smaller offerings helping with productivity. On a second thought, I think smaller line size also contributes in cooler conditions. It seems to me that when the fish are a little more reluctant to devour a bait that they also have more time to maybe examine the situation as a whole leading to my previous idea: small line size. When fish are heavily feeding and competing to feed they grab it or it gets gone. When they're slower they have that extra few seconds to observe the surroundings a little more than usual. Line size is a big issue. Unless you're fishing in areas where you may encounter snags or abrasions I think 2lb test would help immensely. I'm planning to try this soon. Even in warm weather I hardly ever go over 4lb test unless I'm hunting something bigger specifically.
Dead on Jason. Also, cold water is usually clearer water, which makes bluegill even more wary.
You beat me to it! I was just about to follow up with my previous statement regarding clear and cold water seemingly going hand in hand. My comparison was going to involve trout fishing in small/clean/clear/cold streams. Cold water=clear water lots of times. You don't see successful trout hunters using anything over 2 or 4 lots of times......I shall be correct in my terminology though: when dealing with trout it's "tippet".....