Bluegill - Big Bluegill

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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.

Mostly hen gills but a few males in the mix along with some pretty p-seeds. Best fish of the day was a 9.5 inch P-gill hybrid. Most fish were 8 to 9 inches, some larger.

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.

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Hey John...yes, matching the float with the jig they are biting can be tough in the cold, especially if you are shore fishing and they are 'out there'. I generally make casts no further than 30-35 feet and am using a 1.5 inch weighted Comal cigar-shaped float. I can't see it well enough to 'read' the strike any further out, and in using this float I like calm/semi calm conditions. I fish it in deeper water near shorelines and fix the float from 3 to 6-8 feet, depending on my rod length. It holds 1/32 and smaller jigs well. Here are a couple pix...

In the pic above, a properly balanced float like this should have about 3/4 of the body length below the water surface to suspend 1/32nd and smaller jigs tipped with bait. As you may guess, it doesn't take much for a bluegill to get this one under. Sometimes I get strikes 'on the fall' as the light jig plummets to a straight 'plumb' position below the float...which are usually aggressive fish for the cold water and take it right under.

THE 'UP BITE'...

Lately, since the water has dropped dramatically in temperature, about 2/3 of my strikes, and fish, have come on the 'up-bite' where the fish takes the bait from below and releases pressure from the float to the jig, resulting in either a 'tilt' on the bobber or it may lay completely flat on the waters surface if the fish rises higher in the water column on the bite. Sometimes, they will trail-off or 'tow' the float, often in a direction opposite of the wind. This close quarters tactic is best when the conditions are calm or just a light breeze, as you can't really read this if the wind picks up. At times, slightly more aggressive fish will just submerse the float slowly and completely, making it easy to read strikes and set hooks.

Four pound line is about the max on this, and works better with 2 pound line or lighter braid with a 4 pound leader. Certainly not a 'distance' rig. I look for fish on thermal banks and suspended fish around deeper dam faces or drops close to shorelines. submerged creek channels are good now as well.

Hope this helps...

It sure does help Jim and corresponds with experience of mine . the "towing" float and the "laying flat float " ,I first experienced a few years back with Yellow Perch around this time of year .Float fishing is something I've only been doing since '09' ,so I'm behind you veterans of this style and I'm all ears .Of course when I was a kid I threw beach ball sized plastic red/white bobbers and caught a few fish .  

Here is another place this whole discussion should be to help other members interested in this approach: http://bigbluegill.com/group/slipfloating

So you're saying an "up" bite will allow this weighted float to tip over?
I'm missing something... with that big old lead weight there at the bottom, won't it just sit there?

The weight on the float isn't enough to stand the float up by itself.  You need a split shot or a jighead to balance it out.

Okay i see

Guys...I fish this exact float with anything from a 1/64th down to the 1/200th oz jigheads and the float rides as illustrated. That big ole weight is not that big, helps with a little casting distance but more importantly helps balance the float so that the majority of it's length is below the surface of the water.

Allen...I usually go with just the weight of the jighead itself to balance these particular floats. I know they are not the most dynamic in terms of bite detection or shape, but with cold-water, open-water applications, they allow some casting distances for me from my shoreline approaches yet enough visible clues as to when a bite is actually occurring.

It's been years, but I have done well in the mid winter with the Thill Waggler style European floats that must be shotted exact for proper balance. Only problems with those are that they provide limited casting distance and once the winds pick up it is all but impossible for my old eyes to see the orange tip of the waggler for a bite.

Had a rough day today with only two fish. But I must say, it was well worth it due to the capture, and release, of a 10.25 inch pumpkingill hybrid, a new personal best for me...I had the wind in my face and it was pushing the worm-tipped 200th oz jig along, but the chop on the water made it really tough to read for the up-bite on the float, which is how I have been catching the majority of my fish lately. The wind calmed down for a few moments and I noticed the float was laying on its side flat in the water. Either my jig was dragging bottom or a fish had taken the tension off. I set the hook more out of instinct and landed my best Pumpkinseed X Bluegill hybrid at 10.25 inches...maybe a pond in weight. A colossal fish, in my eyes!

Had a tough time trying to get pics of the fish as I kind of horsed it in quickly once I saw how big it was. Fish kept flopping and all and didn't want to open it's mouth! Cold and feeble fingers didn't help much, either. Water was 43 degrees. They are calling for a high of 28 tomorrow, and looking ahead to next week they are calling for some upper 50 degree stuff! Come on...next week!

i have always believed fishing the brutal stuff makes you a better fisherman overall... again very nice fish!

Great fish Jim !Congrats .A 200th oz jig? I guess the closest to that I would have is a tiny pill ice jig or ant ice jig .

      

     1 / 200 th  oz  -------- WOW  that must be just the weight of the hook by itself.    

      Never used less than  1 / 64 th  oz  before ----- looks like I need to downsize.  

      THANKS  for  info  everyone.     

                                                                                        

                                          

            

I love 1/80 oz jigs myself.  Might have to start using my fly rod to cast them, though.

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