Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

Ladies and Gentleman: I see lots of pictures of large (trophy?) gills. I hope and pray that they arent being kept. They should be treated just like a trophy Bass,Pike, etc.They do more good when returned to the pond, lake,stream..living to be caught and enjoyed another day. If you must keep for a meal consider the smaller ones which in turn leaves room to produce more "trophy" gills.

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Okay, what can we do with, say, a 3 inch bluegill? Throw 'em in hot oil, and cook 'em crisp and eat 'em like potato chips, bones and all? Anything else? A 5 inch bluegill can be rolled in or dipped in whatever and fried, or cooked a number of ways, but below that, what?
As to throwing back any trophy sized bluegill, I've never caught anything longer than 7 inches. I'm working on it, but Colorado doesn't seem to have any really big ones.
You're right, Will Gibbs! I have been advocating the release of trophy panfish for many years as I know this is a great way to sustain fragile trophy fisheries. I believe that, in general, the release of trophy class panfish has not caught on nationwide like it has with bass and other species. This is a shame. I have a self imposed limit...I release all gills over 10 inches, in hopes that I may one day catch a 12. I have probably released about 300 10 inch or better gills in a lifetime of fishing for them. It wasn't always that way...used to keep em all. But I know now how rare good, even trophy gill waters can be.

Thanks for the insight and wisdom!
Hey Guys, I agree that trophy Gills are essential for a body of water's healthy survival and to keep the ecosystem in balance!!! I also follow Jim's practice of releasing all Gills 10 inches and above as an absolute rule!!! I hope to own my own trophy Gill pond one day where I can manage it properly for Monster Gills and Trophy Sunfish!!!!
I happen to read many fishing reports from a handful of fishing sites, and when it comes to bluegills its quite common to read posts that boast of limits of 9 1/2 to 10" fish...technically and theoretically we know this is wrong. In the state of Illinois there are no take or size limits imposed. Because of this, we commonly see gluttony in it's truest form....anglers taking 3 figure limits of the largest fish of the day.....only releasing the 6-7 1/2" runts....the best eaters.

It's been said here before, in states where no take or size limits are in place, a maximum size limit on bluegills would make sense, but would remove the trophy option or state record hunt. Ideally a protected slot size would be the best approach....fish between 9 1/2 and 10 1/2" would be protected.....but don't hold your breath on this one...It may be some time before the department of conservation finds a real need to protect our precious bluegill.
Hey I'm all in favor in releasing gills over 10 inches,especially in a controlled enviroment with controlled pressure such as a pond where I control the pressure and feed them regulary, Hey lets grow them in a pond and get them up to five lbs , what a fight on a fly rod , it would be like cow hunting, yum yum . Lets face it , in a uncontrolled enviroment the noble release of a trophy gill makes us feel better but chances are the next time that fish gets hungry he is probally going to end up on someone elses plate. Unless everybody playes by the same rules its hard to manage aquaculture.
Hey Will, I totally agree with you. Not "just" about Bluegill, but rather, for every species I fish for {which is basically all of them I have the means to fish for ;-)

Hey Lord of the Flies, the same could be said for the C/R of trophy sized Largemouth's (or any other species of sportfish)..... To which I would direct them to this article written by yours truly :-)
http://www.trophybassonly.com/id50.htm
Way back when I first wrote this, I thought it was just amazing... stupendous... heck, unbelievable that my buddy and I had both caught the same big bass, but as time went by, and we began to do it more and more often, I slowly began to realize just how > finite < our fisheries resources are !
Bottom line is, you can't make the next guy do something he doesn't want to..... But that doesn't mean you should just go on and "do the wrong thing" along with him. If "half" of the people out there were releasing their biggest Gills, your chances of catching a trophy would be considerably better than they are. Not to mention the very real posibility that you might release a big Gill, then "be the one who catches it again, when it has grown to be even bigger" !

Peace,
Fish
Trophy fish to me are the ones your kids, grandkids, or the kid you took fishing caught. The ones I catch are fish, though some are nice un's and some are throw backs.

However, I have had tons of fun with somebody else's "Trophys". I am a retired firefighter, and in my youth, my Station Captain had a couple of Nice un's on his office wall. Seemed like about every shift, he'd look up and notice they were GONE!!!!!! Well the next thing you knew we'd all be out on some side street sweating like pigs while we loaded our hose back on the truck after we drug it all over that drill field. We'd keep doing it till somebody remembered where those "Trophys" were. He finally took em home. Gosh we missed em.

A trophy ain't a trophy unless your beaming because a kid caught it, or you make grown men sweat because they didn't appreciate it as much as you did. All others are just fish. Keep em all, throw em all back or hide somebody else's.
Well ya' know guys, this whole subject is really just as simple as this >>>

If a person cares about catching big(ger) fish, then he should release the very largest ones to grow to their maximum potential.

If a person doesn't care about catching big(ger) fish, then it makes no difference if they releas any of the fish they catch, or keep every darn one of them. For most of us, this kind of thinking seems odd, and foreign, but everyones different.

Of course their are people who "do" like to catch bigger fish, but who "don't" understand the direct relatiionship of catching bigger fish, with "Selective Harvest". I think these are pretty much the only people we can hope to change, through education.

Peace,
Fish
I'm in agreement with "Fish Chris" if it's in your heart to catch and release that's okay. Personally, I don't fish for sport but with the intent to catch big fish and consume them. I do agree with small pond management, but on the large lakes that I fish, I'm sure that i don't do a whole lot of damage to the ecosystem. In fact! I've never seen a bluegill over 8 inches here and the ones that i see on this site, quite frankly i need to move out to those locations.

D Az Fish Guy
Honestly, I agree with the folks who say they're releasing the spawners and keeping the little ones for a trip to Crisco Bay. I'd LIKE to say I've been releasing anything over 10"... BUT I've never CAUGHT one 10" or over! My biggest is 8.25". I HAVE been releasing anything over 7.5-8", and will continue to do so because I want to catch that 10-incher! Some day.
I'll throw in my two cents worth.

If you're following your local rules and regulations, you're OK by me. If a person keeps an 11 incher to eat or mount, that's fine with me. If a person keeps a full limit of 10+ inchers, you're abolutely OK with me. No problems. I'd love to fish with you. To me this is not a moral issue. There are too many variables that I could never account for if I was going to make a moral issue out of this. Will Gibbs, I respect your opinion and am happy that you can express it on this forum, but I don't think you or I or anybody else should look down on someone else's harvest practices if they're abiding by the local regs.

That being said however, I'd like to say that a big part of this forum and website is to educate people about the things they can do to make the fisheries better for themselves and the rest of us long term. Releasing larger fish is a great way to do that. In some water bodies it's absolutely essential, if you're going to establish a trophy fishery to release the 9+ inch fish. I personally release all bluegill over 8.5 inches. In other water bodies, you could hardly make a lick of difference. If you kept every fish you could for a thousand years you wouldn't appreciably change the fishery if there's no other harvest pressure on say, a thousand acres of water.

Learn about the fish. Figure out what your goals are. Learn the local regulations. And keep a friendly rapport and banter going with your fellow local anglers. If you want BIG BLUEGILL, then gently approach and educate your buddies, and all of us together can do this.

But sorry, it's not a moral issue to me. Too many other more important moral issues to tangle with in life. :-)
Yes, depends on which lake you fish! I caught some over 8 inch and a few over 9 inch in the forest preserve lakes near Chicago. Very heavy fishingf pressure and bluegills over 8 inch is rare so I let fish 7 inch or above back to water and hope that someday one of them might to make a 10 inch! I think that protect between 8 and 10 inch and keep only one over 10 inch per day might be helpful that people can keep 20 bluegills up to 8 inch and keep one over 10 inch or let it back to water for the future trophy bluegill. I fished a good lake in Florida and I caught over 300 bluegills and many over 8 inch and several over 9 inch but only one is almost 10 inch! ALMOST 10 inch! I was mad! Of course I let it back to the water and hope to catch it again next year when it pass 10 inch mark! Its not easy!
Its all depends on lake where you fish! Some lake have over 10 inch while other lake have only 6 inch..... keep search and find gold mine!
I do my homework and research to look for trophy bluegills and make my trip to go there and hope to catch a trophy bluegill. I let all fish back to water and maybe keep one over 1.5 lbs for my wall.
Look at fishery survey to see if lake have a good number of bass between 12 and 18 inch , or good number of walleye and perch and some pike then that lake might have some good size bluegills. I found one lake that have some very big bluegills in Wisconsin but problem is lot and lot of small perch.... that's not easy to fish for bluegills on worm or small minnow ...... you might get 20 perch before get one nice bluegill! Bigger bait and fish deeper water or off shore is good to start!

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