Do you love big bluegill?
Why is it that in areas that the lakes freeze over in the winter, fishermen can fish through the ice and do very well, catching lots of Bluegill, and in places like here in southern California, where it does not usually get below freezing and the lakes DO NOT ice over... we have really slow Bluegill fishing, even though we have found a group of fish with the help of electronics? My question is this. If Bluegill still feed and bite good thru the ice for the northern states fishermen, how come they almost stop biting completely when the weather and water gets cooler in the warmer southern states? How does a thick layer of ice make a difference? Any thoughts or does someone know the actual reason for this occurrence? I would love to be able to go out in the wintertime to my local lake (that is fantastic in the spring, summer and fall) and catch more than 1 or 2 Bluegill, if even any at all...
And there you have it.
I think it might be hard for a southern angler to wrap his/her mind around a cold water BG bite. Like Bill stated, I have sat in a darkened flipover, staring down a hole into clear water, and watched the Gills' inspect my bait for 2-3 minutes, from such a close distance I wasn't sure that their lips weren't touching it.
I have dropped a jig down to a fish, shown plainly on my electronics, and spent 10 minutes convincing that fish to rise up 1 FOOT, and take the bait. They simply do not want to move on some days. You have to adopt an entirely different mindset, equipment, and techniques, from warm water fishing.
I know guys who ice fish with sewing thread, in an effort to get a micro sized offering down to the fish and still maintain that absolutely crucial tight line, so necessary to detect a hit in the winter.
As an afterthought, Nate Herman, of Herman Bros. Pond management, will be hosting an ice fishing workshop, Jan. 21, at Otter Creek Preserve in Astoria, ILL.
IF there is safe ice, which is, in my opinion, doubtful.
I hear that our own Dr. Bruce might be in attendance........
I would love to go, dependent upon the weather of course.
I think Bill is exactly right...gills are just tough and finicky during the winter. But they are not impossible. Longer rods help on the hookset with a longer sweep. The lightest line and smallest baits you can get away with. and the most sensitive floats or bobbers you can find.
You might not catch a ton of fish, but you can catch some, and some giants as well.
Looks like us southern boys need to switch tactics in fishing for different varieties based on season. Time to dust off my flyfishing gear for the trouts, and heavy gears for the stripers, cats, and carps.
Nice start on the topic Jeff! Man, tons of info. Can't get enough of it. You guys are truly a unique breed of anglers. I wish I can just dive into your brains and absorb it all in one go. Spoon feeding me info just turn me into an insatiable monster for more knowledge.
Thumbs up, Leo. I feel the same way around these guys! What they have forgotten, I may never learn.
Go back and re-read Musky and Tony's descriptions. They are spot on. I especially like Tony's observation that the ice is not a hindrance, but a crucial necessity. It is an ally, and not an adversary.
I'm going off topic for moment, to benefit those folks who may have never been ice fishing. When I lived in MN, people eagerly anticipated ice up. They were like children awaiting Santa Claus. They wait all year for it; they PLAN for it, to again experience and enjoy all that ice fishing means. You can hear it here, now, in fact - listen as these guys express their concerns that The Ice is late and may not materialize as hoped.
It is literally another world unto it's own; today we might say it is a "lifestyle." Whole towns turn out onto the local lakes to revel in it. On weekends, the streets of many small villages are deserted as people re-create a micro version of their town "out on the ice."
Friends meet and greet over small holes drilled through two feet of rock hard water. A drink is shared, another fishing "secret" is revealed. Everyone has their pet spot, and some folks literally set up a winter home there. Others are like migrants, going from place to place. They dip a line here, they dip a line there - they stop to chat with someone and then move on. Trucks and cars criss-cross the frozen lakes, following "shortcuts" to the other side that only appear once The Ice, itself, comes.
Snowmobiles whiz by incessantly, often towing giddy, shrieking children on sleds or inner tubes. Cookouts and small party-like gatherings are constant in good weather. Parades are held and festivals sprout up, some planned, some impromptu.... all on the icy "hard water."
Of course, for some, Pursuit of The Fish is most important. You see these guys in the more remote places, or off by themselves, peering into their augured holes. Their "gear sleds" are always nearby and their depth finder's electric glow brightens the thick darkness of winters' night. Somewhere beneath them are The Fish - and they know it.
There really is something for everyone.
It is almost impossible to wrap your mind around this stuff, if you have not experienced it. I don't want to live the winter through in MN, anymore - but all this talk makes me realize I miss ice fishing.
Hey if I walk out my door to go fishing and see this sign in North Carolina, rest assured I'm logging on to Bigbluegill.com and starting a discussion immediately. "HELP" will be the title but at least I will have some idea where to start because of the good information posted here.......It's going to be a great year for everyone I hope!
Wow. Hell emerged from the depth, and got frozen over heh? LOL Great signage!
Ice anglers have a saying. "When hell freezes over, I'll fish there too."
Well that, Tony, and.... "Oh, so the Vikings HAVE won the Super Bowl!"
I find this to be a facinating subject, and I wish I could offer some type of explanation for the tough efforts for winter gilling in warmer climates. This past Saturday, the last day of the year, I fished a 2 acre pond that has been traditionally good for quality gills. I used a 1/100 oz ball head jig with a waxworm threaded on the shank of the tiny hook and fished it 3 feet below a tiny bobber. At times I would drop the distance from the float to try and get the bait to 'wind-drift' just off the bottom, where I thought the gills might be. Strikes ranged from slow deliberate takes that just broke below the surface to quick dips that went out of sight in the muddy water. I allowed the wind to do all the work, drifting the rig. I missed many strikes, but did manage to hook and land 14 gills of various sizes to include several nice 9 inchers and one that went ten.
My experience in open-water, winter bluegilling is that the fish tend to go for an extremely tiny offering, be it a 1/100th oz jig or a single waxworm or maggot on a #14 dry fly hook or smaller. I have had some success with the Thill Waggler style balsa floats, and they must be weighted and balanced to allow just the tip of the float to be seen. Many strikes are 'up-bites', as gills take tension off the rig and the float pops up slightly, signalling a take. I use 2 pound test SOS mono or Triple Fish mono in green. It pays to have a long, Euro-style rod to set the hooks from the bank, as picky and sensitive gills spit the bait out quickly in the winter. If I were sitting right over top of them on the ice with a sensitive ice rod, I think that I might hook many more with a quick hook set. But this is a task when you are 50 feet or more from your float, and the fish are picky.
The water was 43 degrees on Saturday, and the best action was from 3 30 to 4 30 PM, which may have coincided with a movement of zooplankton that elivate off the bottom debris and weeds during low light periods. We have noticed this with crappie as well in our local lakes. Do not be afraid to try shallow water on warm days.
I have never caught huge numbers of gills in the mid-winter/open water venues, but we have caught some very good fish. One day in January Matt and I caught and released 8 fish over 10 inches, including an 11.25 and an 11.5 inch gill. With the mild weather in the MidAtlantic, I plan of giving the winter gilling a solid effort unless we get safe ice. Fish the tiniest baits you can and see if you can't get some of them.These are some fish we caught in January, with water temps in the upper 30's.
Excellent approach info Jim. Will bare in mind to get some ultra light jig heads. But 1/100oz?! My gosh..where do you even get those in these neck of the fishing holes?