Do you love big bluegill?
Ok y'all, this will be a quick hit opener on the stats I have on quality bluegill waters in my region, as I am still reviewing the numbers as this blog will progress. But for now, here are some interesting statistics I have accumilated over the past 12 years concerning bluegills in my regional, or 'home' waters.
Of the 112 lakes/ponds that I have fished over the past 12 years, the number of lakes that have produced 8 inch or better sized bluegill ( my personal minimum for 'quality' gills) is 62, or 55% of those waters. This includes all private and public waters.
Of all the 112 different lakes/ponds, 32 of them have produced 10-inch or larger bluegills...28%
Those waters that have produced bluegills of 11 inches or better amount to 15 different water bodies...13%
Waters that have yielded 12 inch or better fish amount to three.
Of these waters, 98 of the 112 are under 50 acres in size and most of those are 1 to 10 acre range... 87%, while the remainder are over 50 acres. Largest is 3,900 acre Deep Creek Lake and the smallest is 1/4 acre. Interesting to note is that the 1/4 acre puddle has produced 12 inch red ears, 10 inch gills and a green sunfish at 10.5 inches- a personal best for me.
Although 63% of all private lakes I fish have produced 8 inch or better gills, only 18 of those lakes have coughed up 'trophy' class gills of 10 inches or better. These numbers are based on records kept from 52 private venues. Private lakes with 11 inch fish total 9 different lakes, or 17%, of the overall total for these rare trophies.
Believe it or not 15 out of 60 public lakes I fish have rewarded me with 10 inch or better bluegills...a 25% rating...higher than I had anticipated. Only 8 of those waters, or 13%, have produced fish of 11 inches or greater.
I actually am still working on some of these stats, as I have found a few new fisheries this year that are giving up high-end fish. Additionally, these figures are for bluegills, red ears and hybrids, but the overwhelming majority of the figures are associated with bluegill catches.
More to come...interesting stuff!
These results and study just reinforce my belief that quality panfish waters are rare, and need to be taken care of, especially when they are small, fragile waters that cannot hold up under heavy fishing pressure. Catch and release of big fish is an important tool to sustain top bluegill and panfish fisheries.
excellent study Jim! thank you for sharing this info
Tony...no restrictions on any of the lakes, public or private.
Some of the better public venues are high-end bass or striper fisheries, or else good 'multi-species' lakes that can ease the angling pressure, diverting it away from panfish.
Basically, I was concerned with fisheries that consistently produced 10 inch class fish for myself and my angling friends. Same with private water...ponds/lakes that routinely yield fish of a specific size, and over a period of many years.
Of course, angling pressure was higher on the 60 public waters as compared to the private ones. But some private waters recieved a fair degree of pressure simply because the lake owners were friendly and allowed many, even any, angler to fish who asked. Amazingly, some of my very best spots are just this way.
None of the lakes I fish, private or otherwise, are managed or fed in any way. Larger, state-managed lakes recive trout and striper stocks.
Some of the public lakes are small, have a strict catch-and-release rule, and/or require permit/documentation to fish. No fees were involved. As you may surmise, small public venues with C&R restrictions or permits simply will not recieve the angling pressure because evreyone wants either bigger 'gamefish' species or to keep a bunch of fish. Hence...way less pressure and often great fishing. Overlooked by the masses.
At least a half-dozen of my better public spots are small park or municipal lakes that see lots of activity...just not much fishing going on.
I hope this answers your questions. I'd say that more than half of these fisheries are within a one hour drive from home, and many are withing 15 minutes of home.
Good waters are out there, we just have to work at it a bit. I actually approach good panfishing water much the same as would a deer hunter seeking land or access to hunt on. I'm always on the look out, and try to run down any and all rumors and possibilities. Believe me, I have had many promising searches turn out to be duds, with small fish, horrible access or, mostly, just wildly exaggerated tales of huge bluegills and sunfish that just didn't exist.
Hope this helps...
Good stuff Jim! Do you have any data regarding fed vs. unfed, and the angling pressure endured by the various BOW? How many numbers of, say, 10" class fish must a BOW produce before it makes the list? Do you have a minimum quantity, or is one single fish enough? What about any restrictions that may be in place, regarding sizes or quantities that may be taken by anglers?
Sorry for the questions........this is the kind of thing that gets me thinking.
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