Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

I watch a number of you tube videos featuring some of our members catching big gills and crackers.  My question is why do you release them?  Is it simply that your freezers are full, or is there a state regulation on length limits?  I know that in some private compounds such as Richmond Mills that you folks catch and release because you want the population to grow.  If that is the case, doesn't the lake get to the point where you need to take a few out?  Please understand that I'm not critisizing any one of you.  Just trying to understand.  Thanks, Nick 

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Comment by Tony Livingston on July 11, 2012 at 12:00pm

I think a slot limit is an excellent idea for a BOW that needs help..... certainly not all do.....and, every BOW should be evaluated independently, not just covered under a blanket limit, of any kind.

Comment by JBplusThuy on July 11, 2012 at 11:49am

What do you think about slot limits for BG? Is it better to release everything both under a certain minimum size and over a certain maximum size, or just keep what you can eat - as long as its big enough to eat - so long as it's below the "too big to keep" limit?

Comment by Nick Holt on July 11, 2012 at 9:15am

I want to thank Jim and the rest of the folks who answered my post.  It was enlightening and I agree with what was said.  I never had a problem taking 6 or 7 inch fish out of any of our public lakes in this area.  They do eat just as well as the larger fish, and I've never had any complaints from family or friends when it comes to a fish fry.  I do go to my friends private lake where 7 to 8 inches is about the median.  I don't fih there as much as I'd like to because of money and gas restraints.  In all, this has been a great discussion  and very educational.  Thanks again folks.  Nick

Comment by Vince Fusco on July 10, 2012 at 9:27pm

 Very well put, Tony. I can remember many years past keeping all the big gills we could catch. We would have marathon cleaning sessions, and have enough fish to fill all the neighbors freezers while they were on bed. Then one day I was reading a popular fishing magazine that explained the principals of Selective Harvest. It was like a light went off in my brain, and since then I rarely keep the big ones, instead harvesting the ones that the lake has the most of. If the majority of the gills in a lake are  between 7-8 in. harvest those, leaving the larger ones for breeding purposes, and the smaller ones for preditor forage, and to grow larger. It made enough sense for me to change my thinking on which fish I choose to keep, and I in no way condem anyones's practices as long as they are within the law.  

Comment by Jim Gronaw on July 10, 2012 at 8:07pm

Nick...a good, general policy for keeping 'eater-sized' bluegills, regardless of the body of water, is to have the majority of your keepers be fish that are in the mid or average size range for your particular lake. If top-end fish are 9.5 inches, and fairly rare, then you will likely encounter far more 7.5 inch fish, which make great, popper-sized fillets. By releasing those top-end specimens, you can hopefully have a shot at bigger fish, and more of them in the future, yet still enjoy the flavors of a fish fry with the smaller, more available 'keepers'

Again...every lake is different. Unfortunately, some waters only see 6 inch fish as the largest in the system. When the word gets out about a lake that is on the upswing for big gills, like Walt said in a previous blog, the meathogs rape and pillage, and the public fishery is quick to nose-dive. That's why a lot of guys on this site hustle and search for lightly-fished private water that usually has much greater potential for bigger fish. Even 'un-managed' private water ( no feeding system, random stockings, etc. ) can yield great bluegilling, as most pond owners in my area of the country are only concerned about bass fishing. In my lifetime, I have fished more than 100 private ponds and lakes in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Not one pond owner has ever expressed any concern or interest about their waters bluegill fisheries, but almost all of them are protective and interested in the largemouth bass fishing in their lakes. Amazing!

But hang in there, Nick...there's bound to be some good gilling close to you...might have to try some private water.

Comment by JBplusThuy on July 10, 2012 at 4:29pm

Lots of great answers!  I hope the seven definitely non-large BG I kept for the table today will help the genetics of Lake Murray (San Diego) :p

Comment by Greg McWilliams on July 10, 2012 at 3:35pm

Nick, My freezer only holds fish if my daughter or folks are coming for fish!!!! Otherwise I only keep enough for the table!!!!! Oklhoma has no limits on BLUEGILL and few people fish for them except to use a bait!!!!!! I would rather have a mess every so often and they never are in the refrigerator mor than 36 hrs. if that long!!!!! Besides that I do not want to clean 25 or 30 fish or I would have CARPLE TUNNEL!!!!!!!

Comment by Leo Nguyen on July 9, 2012 at 12:45pm

Well said Tony, Walt and Jim. Excellent indepth analytical and data results from years of researches and personal experience. I'm telling you Tony, you should team up with Walt and the rest of the Department of Natural Resources to get you PhD. Bruce already far on his way for that.

Comment by Jim Gronaw on July 9, 2012 at 12:40pm

As Tony pointed out...a big bluegill is the same in the winter as during the spawn, and ice anglers, too, can overharvest once the fish are located and can become easy to catch. When that 10 to 11 inch fish is gone, it's gone!

Several ice fishermen I know from central PA have adopted the habit of keeping 6 to 7.5 inch gills for fish fry material, and they target public lakes that have tremendous volumes of bluegills of this size. Their hopes is that the fewer remaining gills will increase in size and create a better fishery for quality fish. This seems to make good sense, and they have actually started to notice an upswing in size structure in one of those lakes.

Harvest can be a management tool!

Comment by Nick Holt on July 9, 2012 at 11:52am

Thanks for all of the information guys.  Here in Columbus, Ga., we have 14 watershed lakes that the city will do nothing with.  The biggest polutant is silt, and the city will not spend the money to dredge the lakes, nor put in any feeders to help the fish put on a few ounces.  I have noticed the decline in the size of all the sunfish species in these lakes and it's a shame.  I do understand what ya'll said about genetics and the sneaker males.  I do believe that this has been an on going problem too.  Most of the gills I have caught out of these water sheds may range from 2" to maybe 6" if lucky.  The crappie fishing has become the same.  My jig has been bigger than some of the crappie I've caught lately.  The dilemma I'm facing, is that most of the Chattahoochee River that borders Georgia and Alabama is quite polluted from Atlanta dumping whatever into the river, so a lot of us are afraid that if we harvest fish from there, we may end up glowing in the dark!  Actually, it's getting somewhat harder to find good public fishing in this area.  As far as the smaller gills are concerned should we keep them and hope that if the population  is controlled we may eventually end up with some larger fish in the future?  It's actually hard to tell what the average size of these fish are. Any more ideas on this public problem?  Nick

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