Bluegill - Big Bluegill

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This week's challenge is in the title.

Goals: - handle 10 bluegill.

Limitations: (Self inflicted)
- fish with only micro plugs


The list is extremely short in detail this week. What it lacks in entry, it makes up for with difficulty. I'm leaving the jigs, plastics, and enhancements at home. I'm going armed with simple different sizes, styles, and weights of small crankbaits (plugs).
There's a few reasons for this:
- Mark's use of snaps intrigues me. One of the very first things I do with plugs is remove the split ring, but rather then replace it with a snap, I tie directly to the line loop. That discussion took my attention to a bait I normally use behind planers.
- The stomach contents of the fish I kept last week continued pushing me toward small minnow style baits. I figured the use of plugs would weed out some of the smaller 'gills, and allow me to effectively fish a few areas more thoroughly then I could do previously.

I've severly dropped the number of 'gills I'd like to catch, and I really don't expect to even hit that number.
I am hoping to have at least one(1) heavy hitter along with me to balance out the odds: ½ of Team Zig will be along. ZZ will have his choice of arsenal; I'm very curious as to what he'll go with.
Hookset may also be making his first 2010 trip with us. He'll be using my equipment (he will not have the Strad); he will be fishing a double rig under a float. I've switched position of the Berkley angle worm for this trip - we'll see what comes out of that.
Hookset shared an interesting story with me about last year, if he makes this trip it will be very special to myself.

Location: Susquehanna River/Saginaw area
Time: 6:53am- 10:57am
Water Temp: N/A
Air Temp: 21-33
Bait: small/micro crankbaits
1/64oz. hair jigs
1/64oz. jig head tipped w/ Honey worm
Presentation(s): Cast and retrieve
vertical float/drift
Fish: Bluegill (37)
Largemouth bass (1)
Smallmouth bass (1)

Hookset and myself found ourselves on the shore of the warm water area a few minutes before 7:00am this morning.

He was carrying my 8' Slab Seeker rigged with double jigs under a float, and I was armed with a 10' Tony Edgar Ozark with a Pins Minnow ready for action.
It was surprising that we were all alone at this point in time. There was a truck parked at the lower boat launch that we later found was a goose hunter, but as far as other anglers, we had the entire place to ourselves. I was looking forward to this trip, as I had a capable angler available to fish the same areas I would be with a proven bait/presentation while I broke ground on a different approach. This literally saves me a trip, and allows me to put together information in a more precise set of circumstances. (Fishing the same conditions rather then two(2) seperate trips under different conditions)
When we reached the first area I wanted to fish, it was very obvious the water was at the highest level I had seen so far this year. I took a few moments to explain the layout of the area, how I fish it (and why), and warned of the now underwater snags he would have to deal with.
Hookset's eye sight isn't as sharp as it used to be, so I helped with tipping of the hair jig and the threading of the angle worm.
I waited to see what the fish would tell us about the day, and after four drifts I started to look around for Mark's skunk. This was the most drifts I've had to take to get at least a notion of fish being present.
I set-up a few feet away to fish the head and middle of the pool, and started casting.
Time continued to click by, and it started to become very obvious the day was going to be more work then play. I had Hookset start playing with the depth of the jigs, and I started changing crankbaits.
Just as the sun started bouncing off the water, Hookset sent the skunk home - at least for himself. I was still throwing hooks.

Ever so slowly, 'gills started getting lifted from the water. Ever so slowly, I started losing confidence in the tackle I opted to use.
While there were no fish breaking our lower slot length, Hookset was enjoying himself. We talked about how useless those GULP! Angle worms were (at least at this waterway), and how it was interesting to see how two(2) presentations could have such different results from the exact same spot.
He continued to catch.......................I continued to practice casting.
We worked our way downstream, stopping at known productive areas. At 9:30am I had enough. It was very obvious what stamp I was going to use on the crankbaits.

While I can't say I'm completely writing them off, I will say the 2" and smaller crankbaits - both standard and modified to suspend - will not be on the short list of 'must have' tackle for warm water 'gillin.

I switched over to a single hair jig under a float and very quickly went from casting practice to CPRing.


As the morning wore on, more and more anglers started showing up - both shore and boat.
I can't say I didn't see other anglers catching this trip. There was a slew of smallmouth being caught all around us. While I can't say for certain, it appeared as if shiners were the bait of choice. Hookset ended up latching into something substantial that took him directly into the limbs of a blowdown...................twice. He called me over and said, "You fish in here and catch that thing."
I asked how we would know if it was the same fish (?)
Had to chuckle at his response, "cause I've hooked it twice now and lost it both times, so it'll have two(2) of your jigs in its' mouth!" You have to know Hookset and how serious he can be to understand why I found it so amusing.
One thing I noticed was the amount of activity that took place right at my feet. There were numerous times when the abundant YOY that cruise the surface would start getting real antsy. They wouldn't scatter - just start acting differently. My curiousity took me to changing to a Honey worm tipped jig head to do some vertical jigging w/o a float.............just to see.
The first thing I saw came in the form of a 12" smallmouth......................and the story its' mouth told me:

More 'gills were caught with this presentation, but all were smaller then what I was looking for. Another rig change back to a single hair jig and float was the final proof I needed to see to anchor this presenation as the best for bringing the larger fish to hand.
I drifted this rig within 3ft of the shoreline in open water to bring the largest fish of the day. In total, seven(7) 'gills over our slot limit fell for this presentation.

So, the next trip will be taken w/o a challenge. I've seen enough to fill my confidence bucket to start exploring different areas. We certainly will not be seen 'gillin without what has proven to cover multiple conditions:

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Comment by Zig on February 27, 2010 at 7:43pm
Jim, this is an area just downstream of the discharge. It's known as Saginaw, and has extremely heavy fishing pressure from the bass, walleye, and musky anglers. As far as I know, there are a handful of us that fish it exclusively for panfish. The crappie fishery is virtually untapped, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the next record yellow perch comes from the area. We flirted with the ellusive 10" mark on the bluegills again this week.....................just can't connect with a solid length fish.............yet.
Comment by Jim Gronaw on February 27, 2010 at 8:03am
Hey Zig...glad to see you on here again and great story. I fish the Brunner Island discharge above York...where is this warmwater plant? Looks like you have a population of gill in that stretch of the Susky.
Comment by Lord of the Fly , Rods on February 27, 2010 at 7:33am
Great post, keep it up.

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