Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

I began my fishing when I was 5 years old with my grandfather. There was just something about watching that red and white bobber. I was literally mesmerized by it.
Of course, I fished live bait at the time. At first, I just wanted to catch a fish and I didn't care what it was. I was as thrilled by a catfish as I was anything.
Still, bluegill won a place in my heart -- especially big bluegill.
Fast forward to 1971. I moved to Florida and really began learning how to fish. Spent most of my time fishing in salt water for spotted seatrout, redfish, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, cobia, pompano and other species.
But it boils down to learning how to fish. If you can catch bluegill, you can catch most anything. Fishing is fishing. And the key, in my humble opinion, is locating fish. If you can do that, you can probably figure out a way to catch them.
I moved to Sarasota, Fla., in 1975. I took a job as the Outdoors Editor of the afternoon Sarasota Journal. I joined the morning Herald-Tribune when the afternoon paper folded in 1982. I was also the Outdoors Editor of that paper.
I'm still with the Herald-Tribune and still Outdoors Editor. I've also written for many magazines, including Florida Sportsman, Gulf Coast Angler, Fly Fishing in Salt Waters, Saltwater Fly Fishing, Paddle World and others. I've been published in the New York Times and I'm a regular writer for Florida Fishing Weekly.
It's a great job that has allowed me to fish all over with some great folks. I love to fly fish and I've caught bonefish to 14 pounds in the Florida Keys. I've caught dolphin, little tunny, cobia, barramundi, redfish, snook, spotted seatrout, pompano and other species. I'm a decent angler and feel confident in most any situation.
Three years ago, I started a business: Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing (www.kayakfishingsarasota.com). I own four kayaks and take people saltwater or freshwater fishing from Tampa Bay to the Everglades.
We usually do well. Last February, Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington caught his first redfish with me. I have a lot of fun taking people fishing.
But when I go by myself, I usually head for a local lake. And I fly fish for bluegill. I catch bass, shellcracker, stumpknocker, speckled perch, tilapia and catfish. But I fish for bluegill. The others are incidental catches.
Used to be that I would head out to a lake and cast small poppers. When the bite ended, it was time to go home. No more. I've learned that subsurface flies extend your days and increase your catch.
In fact, subsurface flies usually produce more fish.
My favorite sinking flies include my Myakka Minnow and a gold beadhead nymph on a No. 10 hook. I'll also use Wooly Buggers, scuds and variations of each.
I love to use light fly rods. I'm sponsored by Temple Fork Outfitters and I love TFO's Finesse series of rods. I own several, including 1 weight, 2 weight, 3 weight, 4 weight and 6 weight.
The 1, 2 and 3 are fine for local waters, but I leave them at home when I head to The Everglades, my favorite place to fish. Catches of 100 fish per day are very common. We catch largemouth bass, bluegill, stumpknocker, shellcracker, speckled perch, tilapia, oscar, Mayan cichlid and peacock bass.
Oscars and Mayans are bluegills on steroids. They're super strong and determined. They're why I leave the really light stuff at home. When they take a fly, their first move is to get back into the structure. Your mission is to keep them out. You wouldn't stand a chance with light tackle. And I have to beef up to 8-pound tippet on these fish.
We're lucky in Florida. I don't believe we have bluegill as large as in other areas, but, on average, they're decent. My best bluegill is a 1 pound, 4 ounces. Pound bluegill are fairly common.
Our bluegill bed from April through August. When they bed, it's pretty easy.
I target bluegill most of the time, but catch plenty of other species while doing so.
When I'm not fishing for bluegill or working at the paper, I'm either guiding folks on the saltwater or local lakes or working on a book about fishing Southwest Florida. My idea is that anyone coming to the area can read the book and be several steps ahead of the game. I've traveled to other areas and been in the dark. I want to help people.
I tie flies. I tie fairly well. I can tie a variety of saltwater flies. But I love to tie bluegill patterns because I know that when I have the time, I'll put the kayak in and I'll search for bluegill.
You can never get away. Once they're in your blood, bluegill have you hooked.

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Comment by Jeremy R. Mayo on December 14, 2008 at 11:10pm
Not changing the subject but stayin on the subject. I wanna do some further editin on my page. I need to get some of those pictures off there. Its way crouded.

I love the write. Ima thinker and a talker and a comic reader. Big bluegill writers dont need pictures in there writin because i just see all the action when im readin. This is the only site I can sit and read for hours on end.

Thanks guys
Comment by Bruce Condello on November 11, 2008 at 4:30pm
I like to leave other people's mistakes, because it makes ME look smarter. ;-)

Actually "Ning" has some editing issues that I'm trying to figure out.
Comment by george on November 11, 2008 at 2:59pm
Steve, EC is acronym for Eagle Claw .... maybe we can get Bruce to teach us how to edit .* grin*
I use Eagle Claw 413 60 degree bend jig hooks for salt water and on flashy flies, but EC(Eagle Claw) 410 are bronze and work equally for fresh water- and they are inexpensive.
When tyin' smaller flies I'll use a Mustad 90 degree jig hook but 60 degree hook point-up works best. I tie all clousers and bendback flies on this hook, as well as other hook point up flies.
Comment by SteveGibson on November 11, 2008 at 1:44pm
George, I love your flies. Wow! Nice! Do you specifically recommend the Eagle Claw EC413? I've found E413s, but not EC. What's the difference? I would be more than glade to edit your post to change the 11-pound bluegill, but I'm not sure how to do it. I can edit my blog, but haven't figured out to edit your response.
Comment by David Merical on November 11, 2008 at 10:21am
Maybe the 11+pounders are the HSB's? ;o)
Comment by george on November 11, 2008 at 8:09am
Steve, pardon my inability to function on just one cup of coffee and not learning how to edit, but PLEASE change 11 lbs to 11 inches in above post - if only there were 11 lb BG they would be dangerous to life and limb.... *grin*
Comment by Bruce Condello on November 11, 2008 at 6:52am
I really enjoyed the read, Steve. We're privileged to have you here on the Big Bluegill site. One extremely pleasant surprise is the quality of writing that we're seeing here. Waking up this morning to your story was like getting an extra Sunday paper this week. :-)

Thank you.
Comment by george on November 11, 2008 at 5:03am
Hello Steve, great read …. !
I am a BG convert after years of fishing varies species, the past number of years for striped bass, and more recently HSB (hybrid striped bass) in our ponds.
When stocking our first ponds with CNBG (copper nose bluegill) for forage for LMB and HSB, I became acquainted with Bruce and others on this forum that targeted BG, I became more interested.
We have an aggressive feeding program and it is common to catch and release numerous of 9-10 inch fish and occasional 11+ pounders a day and I have become more interested in CNBG, not for only the thrill of fly fishing but also the biology and genetics of the Florida species.

I am an avid fly fisherman, fly tyer, and rod builder until Rick Pope of TFO came along. My favorite pond rod is the 6 wt. TFO Axiom and now that the TFO Mini-Magnum came along, they handle all of my fishing requirements.
I was privileged to field test the Mini-Mag the previous year before going into production. This seems an unlikely spread of fly rod weights but from our ponds, it is as likely to catch a 10-12 channel catfish or a white amur (grass carp) so I need “lifting” and landing power. HSB are ferocious fighters and will fight until death unless landed quickly, revived and released.
I am particularly interested in the Florida CNBG species, having recently added an additonal Florida genetic variety.
I am very interested in your BG flies and look forward to your participation on this forum.
George Glazener
Plano, Texas

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