Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

There are so many titles for this live bait post that come to mind, I should start with a few titles. Rock Your Water With Live Bait. Match the Hatch- er Make the Hatch. Make the Fish in Front of You Go Mad. Loose Feed for Success. BlueGill Tsunami.

So those are some titles I would use to tell you about the top method for getting all the fish feeding in your area. Did I say all the fish? Yes. Even on a slow day, this method takes fish out of neutral or non-feeding behavior and puts the fish's little fins on the feeding gas pedal. You can truly make the water boil in front of you and draw fish in from 100's of feet away.

The fish in your area will fight over your hook bait causing serious takes and aggressive movements underwater. I have to warn you, this article might change the way you fish forever. If you fish catch-and-release, this will also make the fish in your pond more healthy and larger.

There are two elements you would use to make bluegills, crappies, perch go stark-raving mad in front of you. This method works when you are either double-anchored in place or from shore. You will want to fish one spot and one spot only because you will have the hottest spot on the lake. What is nice about the method is that you will always hear others say how you had a good spot, or the fish were really going crazy on that spot. Lucky you. Since I fish public lakes, I can hear these people say this same phrase every time I go because their voice carries across the water. I make my spot great, and I can do it on nearly every part of that pond. I will give you a second warning- this method will also attract these poor anglers who are not catching much. You will experience them trying to cast closer and closer to you. If they are nice, share what you are doing. If they aren't well -get creative. I'll tell you what to do at the end if those anglers get in too close or are rude...

The method is simple. Add food to the water in one precise spot and create competition. The end.

It is that simple. So for food, I buy spikes in bulk - the ultimate bait on the planet. All fish eat it. I caught 15" rainbow trout (landed 1 of 3) and 17" channel catfish (2 of them) last time out on spikes. Big fish eat these all the time underwater.

The first part of the food and attractant is a ground bait. This is a mixture of loose crumb that when moistened allows me to pinch a coin-sized portion and toss it out 10 - 40 feet away where I am fishing. This ground bait hits the water and starts to break up immediately in the water column.
As it falls the bits of crumb, ground seed and grain particles fall through the water.

As any possible food items would visually attract fish, the falling particles, the cloud, the splash of the food entering, the scent and also the sound of other fish feeding turn fish on. Fish from all around the area head to the sound and scent to get in on feeding.

The scent of food flips the feeding switch and triggers aggressive hunting behavior like no artificial bait could do with action or artificial flavor.

Next, I have a sling shot designed for the task with a pouch that holds about a quarter's surface area of bait. I load in 3 - 5 spikes and fire that over the top where the ground bait entered the water.
Spikes are the perfect bait as they fall through the water very slowly. A spike will take well over 1 minute to travel through 13 foot of water! The slow-falling moving grubs catch the eye of these sight-feeding predators who move in and compete for the little food in the water.

Next, with my telescopic cane pole, I cast my bait out onto the exact spot where the ground bait entered - in the center of the spike pattern. My hook free-falls with either a single or double spike attached to a #14 hook. The small, light hook allows for a slow drop presentation.

The gills go mad to race to the single food in the water and do compete to get the bait. The results can be staggering with this system. 6 fish a minute is a good pace, hit 10 fish a minute using barbless or micro-barbed hooks and you can get soaking wet taking gills off the hook. Note to achieve speed, the fish hook should facility getting that fish off fast and easy. Many of my bluegills bounce off my chest and into the keep bag beneath me. I am a devout catch-and-release angler. Because I teach fishing and I compete in an urban environment where there are 200 anglers per square mile (by percentage), I recommend that people release fish if they want something to catch next time. If I lived out in a more rural place, I would take more fish without a doubt.

For your fishing, 250 spikes will do. For tournaments, or periods of high fish activity, I use between 500 - 3,000 spikes. Depending on how long the event is and how furious the fish are taking my hook bait, if I am competing in a US Open Bank Championship, I will use a bit more bait. While I write those big numbers, truth is sending out 2 - 5 at a time is the trick. The less you feed (shoot) into the water, more often, the more success you will have. Little and often in all my methods is the key to success. If you feed too much - you will fill up the fish you had intended to catch. Put too many spikes in the water and put too much ground bait in and you will see your catch drop.

I buy the spikes in bulk and share the cost with friends and people in my club to bring the cost down. 1,000 spikes should cost you between $5 - $6 if split with friends.

While you can make your own - the stink can not be described in an article. The stink will stick to you and your clothing. It's awful so I buy them to keep my neighbors happy and the police away from my urban garage.

I will comment to the post and put up some pictures from this method. I am fishing the first event of the year coming up - look for the results from our Chicago Fishing League here and see if I can break the 300-fish mark for a 4- hour session using the method above.

I highly recommend the cane pole with the tiniest float for this. If you get it right, speed-fishing while loose-feeding is the most fun you can have on water. The floats I use and the ground bait are not yet available all across the country, but soon will be. I fish with Italian & English floats which have tiny stems and which take only .3 grams of weight to balance them. I can see fish activity using this float and I detect takes as well as rejected baits from fish below via the tiny antenna.

Light line of .013 diameter or 1.5 lb. is usually what I run on my leaders tied to size 14 light wire hooks. These are also not widely available nor is the fishing line. Together, we bluegill anglers will make an impact on the fishing industry which is heavily weighted to the bass. Why should 10% of the fish population dictate 90% of the media coverage, tackle and attention? Bluegills outnumber bass 30:1. We should have ESPN BlueGill Center on television on Saturdays. $250,000 bluegill tournament? BlueGill Pro Shops - now that is more my speed. Check in and see how the method worked or read a reply on my page.


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Comment by David, aka, "McScruff" on February 20, 2011 at 9:34pm

The whole notion of"groundbait" has me excited now!

Comment by David, aka, "McScruff" on February 20, 2011 at 9:25pm

Was pleased to read this about how you toss the small bits of chum to them. I just always kept a big wad out there! But I was never looking to load the bucket - 5 or 10 nice brim and I'd had enough. We used chicken feed for the chum and I can't imagine why that or commercial fish food pellets, ground up, would not work as well today. Both of these can be had in 50 lb bags where I live, for around $10.

I will definitely keep your notions about systematic underfeeding in mind.

I never used maggots, either, but it seems like a good idea. I had contemplated growing my own "spikes," but decided I didnt want them that bad! I'm interested to learn about where you can get them, and how you keep them alive somehow, without stinking up the garage

I recall making my own needle floats, too, what you are calling European floats. I wuold just use a piece of reed or small dowel and paint 'em myself. Drill a hole in one end and slip the line through, then use a rubber band to bind the line to the float.

Comment by Jim (Ike) Isaac on April 20, 2010 at 9:07pm
Thanks. Chumming is not legal in CA, but then AZ is not that far away...
Comment by Johnny wilkins on April 20, 2010 at 8:07pm
As far as Gulp Maggots- I think no for these reasons - real fish don't eat Gulp in the wild. Gulp is expensive (42 for $4 is nearly .10 each with tax). When I get maggots at the most expensive they are 1.3 cents each. I would rather have 10 live moving baits than 1 fake, still bait. Lastly - they don't catch fish like live bait. Their trademarked statement "Outfishes All other Bait"™ is a lie. I can't believe they would write that on their jar. (I feel like I am being baited) : ).
That said - Gulp Maggots have their place- a few of us agree- they belong as a live bait substitute for when you run out or get stuck without bait.
I would take old, slow, nearly dead maggots vs. a jar of Gulp.
If the Gulp Maggot manufacturers wish to bet One Million dollars, I will fish against their product with the live maggots. I will get an insurance policy, financial backers to do this challenge and make some money. They would then of course have to remove that from their jars.

As stated above- it is a good last resort, doesn't require refrigeration but there is no substitute for the real deal- just ask the fish.
BlueGillBoogieMan has tested the product- I will have to do a side-by-side with all the factors the same, but I need a volunteer to fish the Gulp - I sure aint gonna just sit there and not catch.
Comment by Jim (Ike) Isaac on April 20, 2010 at 7:45pm
Thanks, half the battle of learning is decoding the specialized vocabulary. Do you think Gulp Maggots work as well as the real thing?
Comment by Johnny wilkins on April 20, 2010 at 4:25pm
As spike is a maggot - sorry. It is the deadliest bait on the planet. Pun intended.
Comment by Greg McWilliams on April 20, 2010 at 3:01pm
Another good way to draw the fish in is nail a dead coon ( or some other form of road kill ) into a tree hanging ove the water. Couple days later the maggots hitting the water bring everything in to eat. Any little white fly will catch fish!!!
Comment by Jim (Ike) Isaac on April 20, 2010 at 3:00pm
Ground bait I understand, but what in Sam-Hill are "spikes?"
Comment by Johnny wilkins on April 20, 2010 at 2:42pm
(( ALSO - important ))
TopMix is carried by many from the past couple of years- this product is brand new in the past couple of weeks so it hasn't distributed everywhere yet.
You will know you have the right stuff if the cost is $6 / bag or less. If the cost is $8 - $12 that stuff is from Hungary and that is the old stuff. Just a head's up. The new stuff is Blue Package with red, white graphics and is topmix USA.
Comment by Johnny wilkins on April 20, 2010 at 2:39pm
Ah - I use them for bait orders as well - they don't carry the TopMix products yet, but let me give Eric a call up there and set it up. You can have them pack it with your next maggot order to get it shipped close to free.

For bluegills and crappies -the formulas that will work for gills on lakes would be the All Species, Catfish Mix & the Competition Mix. Protein Pellets & Strawberry Pellet will work.
There also is liquid attractant - (which I am still testing for gills) Carpothermia & All Species liquid attractant.

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