Bluegill - Big Bluegill

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There has been some discussion lately on stunted bluegill and the overharvest of bluegill. I found this article, on how in Illinois they are looking into this problem. If anyone has anyother articles about this problem, and other bluegill problems, please post link.........Thanks Dwayne

http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/releases/Diana_Wahl_OutdoorIL_0907.pdf

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Comment by Chad Hood on May 17, 2012 at 9:29pm

I am getting in on this late and dont have the best knowledge but I make up for it in common sense. First off I am a big fan of catch and release into my mouth but rarely do I harvest more than 10-12 of the 7-10 inch variety. Dont know why anyone needs that much or even wants to clean that many fish. I will continue to harvest and only hope that with what knowledge I gain from you guys that I will continue to have a bluegill honey hole. Of course as everyone else said...SHHHHH Dont tell anyone about my spot. What and the hell do ya do with 200 gills... maybe over the course of a season some here and there and hopefully some here and there the year after and after....

Comment by Walt Foreman on May 2, 2012 at 6:35pm

Tony, I'd bet money that the reason the bass stocking failed is because they probably stocked fingerlings - most DNRs are in the habit of stocking fingerlings, which doesn't work well in lakes with established populations of fish.  Sometimes they stock high numbers of the fingerlings to try to make up for their vulnerability to predation, but it just is not the best approach.  There's a fifteen-acre lake just south of my hometown that I got the county manager interested in improving a couple years ago; I gave him a detailed report I had done, replete with pictures of fish, after sampling the lake for a couple hours by fishing.  My report concluded that the lake was badly overpopulated with bluegill and green sunfish, and recommended stocking largemouth (larger-size) as I caught no bass (and I'm better than the average bass fisherman, generally will catch some if there are any in the BOW).  So the county manager said he had talked to TWRA and they wanted to shock the lake so they had a better idea of what was going on with it; they shocked it, and found it was badly overpopulated with bluegill - they didn't find any green sunfish, which says something about electroshocking, as I caught several - and needed largemouth.  So their solution was to stock 900 fingerlings that fall.  If even 50 of them survived, I'd be surprised.

 

I agree with the idea that a slot limit would be ideal.  But I do think a minimum length limit and a creel limit, are better than no limits; the minimum length has the function of keeping anglers from harvesting the 'gills before they can ever reach decent size, which one study I read found was a big part of the problem.  But I think slots would be ideal.

 

There are a few states that presently manage some of their waters for trophy bluegill: Missouri has several public lakes specifically managed for big 'gills; either Minnesota or Wisconsin (believe it's Minnesota) has done some experimenting with length limits; there's Illinois of course; and I think I read that Mississippi may have some waters they're managing for big 'gills.  But that's not many.  If bluegill anglers, and specifically the non-meathogs who value sustaining the resource, speak up, maybe eventually the DNRs will listen.

Comment by Dwayne Denison on May 2, 2012 at 1:56pm

Thank you, Jim. Lots of I only fish for bluegill when they are on beds. Like it is below them to fish for them any other time. I bet they cannot even tell you the IL state fish!

I have sent a email to Biologist Dave Wahl at the UofI, inviting him to this site. He is one the biologist that conducted the study in the article.

Comment by jim cosgrove on May 2, 2012 at 1:45pm

exactly dwayne-what are you gonna do with that many fish?have the ame problem up in no. ill.my friends who get p****d when some one keeps a bass tells me about the 200 gills him and his buddies caught on the beds in the strip mines.those pits do not generally have large populations of any species.what are the bass gonna eat is when you remove all their food?these guys think they are actually helping the bass population by thinning out the other fish.i rarely fish with these guys anymore.stupid just stupid.

Comment by Jim Gronaw on May 2, 2012 at 1:36pm

I think Tony is right when he points out the opposite of what might work on that lake, that is, keeping only fish over 8 inches and releasing the smaller. In PA, there are a number of 'panfish enhancement ' lakes that have special size and creel limits, perhaps to make them 'destination' waters for panfishers like us. Most of those lake have a minimum size of 7 inches for bluegills...everything else has to go back. This means, that as soon as a gill reaches 7 inches, it is harvested! To me, that does not seem like an enhancement tool. And there has been little evidence to support the notion that this regulation has improved fisheries. Maybe a slot limit for keepers, say 7 to 8.5 inches, with a 10 fish limit, and larger gills must go back. And this is just a suggestion to a very complex issue...the goal being to create better bluegill fisheries with larger, adult fish in the system.

There are several problems that stymie the improvement of bluegill waters, nationwide. One is, the DNR or wildlife agencies just have not viewed bluegill or panfish management efforts as being neccessary for the overall angling public. Viewed as 'panfish' 'kid's stuff' or'brim fishin'', the bluegill is not seen as a fish that will bring revenues into a state or region that has quality bluegilling. Bass and trout are the 'money' fish. Managing prime panfish waters is something new to these agencies. And since they are viewed as a fish to catch and eat, little concern is given to the bluegill.

And since the actual study of panfish management/enhancement is in it's infancy, it is certainly going to take some time and effort to develope programs that will improve bluegill populations and get larger, adult fish into the system. These agencies could learn a lot from the experts on this board, with an attempt to apply it to larger venues.

And finally...bluegill anglers themselves need to clearly understand that lakes and ponds simply cannot sustain the continual removal of the top-end , adult bluegills in any system, and expect these fish to maintain a 9.5 inch average with 10 inch plus fish being common.

Like Walt said about his local lake...the word got out, and the meathogs came in and raped and pillaged. Every lake is different, and every situation calls for a different approach. Hopefully, management agencies will listen to serious bluegill anglers and maybe some improvement stategies will evolve.

Comment by Dwayne Denison on May 2, 2012 at 11:34am

On the point of over harvest. A fishing buddy of mine just returned from Devils Kitchen Lake, Here in So. IL. DKL is know as a bluegill lake. He reported lots of boats on lake even with high winds today. A boat ramp he talked to a guy, who had 192 gills in boat, all the guy kept talking about is how they were on beds.

Comment by Dwayne Denison on May 2, 2012 at 11:25am

Here is some more information. Most information I can get from state is a couple years old. Mostly rehatch of other field research.

http://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/10199/inhscaev...

Comment by Tony Livingston on May 2, 2012 at 10:04am

I read the study that Dwayne posted, and a couple things stood out to me. First off however, let me say that I'm not an expert in this area. I would like to believe that I have learned a lot over the past 10 years or so, but I also believe in having an open mind, and most importantly, keeping abreast of the latest studies and research. A lot of things are looked at differently now, than they were 50 years ago.

In the link that Dwayne posted, I read where they added supplemental Bass to try and control the BG population. They claim that stocking success was low, resulting in no benefit to the established BG. Why was stocking success low? What happened there? Also, what is the cover/weed situation like in that BOW? Is it possible that the LMB simply couldn't effectively prey on the BG due to an abundance of aquatic growth?

And what about the scenario where they established a minimum size, together with a daily limit. They still didn't see the results they were hoping for, possibly attributed to anglers not following the guidelines. Well, maybe, but I have to believe that the combination of a 10 fish limit, combined with an 8" minimum size, led to the anglers returning the smaller fish to the water while keeping the largest. To me, that appears exactly opposite to the strategy that was needed. I would think that a protected slot size, combined with a daily limit, would be more beneficial.

I believe that LOFR is correct when he states that most F & W agencies manage for sustainable catches of a "keeper" sized fish. I know from conversations with my local fisheries biologists that they consider a "keeper" to be anything over 6" in length. I also don't think that every BOW should be managed for bigger BG, but perhaps a select few could be sat aside as a trial?

 

Comment by Walt Foreman on May 2, 2012 at 9:44am

They may have the wrong regs for those bodies of water.  If they require catch-and-release only, with no slot limit of any kind, the smaller bass could be overpopulating - that's what it sounds like, if you're catching lots of small bass.  That's good for the bluegill fishing (more small bass), but not the bass.

Comment by Dwayne Denison on May 2, 2012 at 9:16am

 "I don't think it will change until enough bluegill fishermen let regressive state agencies such as mine know that there are plenty of us out there who don't just fish for the stringer and expect management that's aware of the last fifty years of fisheries science research"

Amen Walt!

Down South here in IL, We have had strict regs on bass for sometime. From what I here from local Bass fisherman, they are not getting that much bigger. You can catch more, but not bigger fish.

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