Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

I ran into a fella while getting my car fixed and the conversation turned to fishing. He told me that he and three buddies took 12,000 bluegill out of a local lake last year. He further stated that they kept and cleaned every fish. I told him that appeared to be a little excessive and that i didn't keep anything under seven inches and limited my catch to a maximun of 25 and released any thing over nine inches. He said they didn't catch many fish over seven inches. I wonder why? I'm looking for comments on both sides. I think 25 gills a day is plenty!

Tom Swank

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Or perhaps a disgruntled bass fisherman might recall his joy of youth and fishing for gills. Another good reason to let the nice 'uns go. You might make somebody's day. For the rest of their life. Good way to look at it. I like it!
I fished a local county lake run by the State this week. The website says there are 65 acres divided between 2 lakes. The upper, larger lake is by far the most heavily fished and is about 40 acres. Using the maximum yearly recommended harvest of bluegill per acre that you have stated here, this is what this lake can support in bluegill harvest.
40 acres x 30 bluegill per acre per year = 1200 Bluegill harvest max per year for this lake.
Lake is open year round closing 1 day a week. 1200 bluegill / 313 open days = about 4 per day for harvest. Total, not per person fishing but total for the day. I would bet a lot of money the take averages at least 10 times that number and has most of my long life.
Your stated 20 to 30 BG per acre per year harvest recommendation just doesn’t make sense in the real world. The numbers have to be wrong or my figuring is wrong. At only 4 per day allowed for removal, only the elitists sports fishermen would fish there and the State has no business keeping public lakes open for the privileged few. The so called “eaters” would not waste their time if only four total bluegill a day could be taken from a 40 acre lake.
The creel limit for this lake is 25 bream per person per day. One person keeping their legal limit could wipe out a whole week’s worth of fishing for everybody else. I don’t think the limits would be set at 25 if four was all the lake could support.
Now about my wager. I guessed at least 10 times that amount comes out. That would be 40 a day X about 300 days = Gasp! Around 12,000 a year from a forty acre lake. True not all caught by 4 people, but with anything less for the public at large, why should the State spend tax money keeping it open?

As for quality bluegill waters, I released about 12 or 15 very nice sized coppernose that day. I went in the afternoon. The lake manager told me about a lady I have often seen bank fishing there who had taken out about 20 nice ones every morning this week. The fish are there, lots of them. Have been for about 50 years now.
I am basically lazy and don't want to clean more than a few fish at a time. I have also really enjoyed just fishing for the fun of it, letting the fish go for another time and when I am finished, just going home and taking a good nap.

Fishing should be fun and relaxing. Catching and cleaning large numbers of fish sometimes gets to be too much of a chore. I remember my dad telling me that he and a few buddies caught about 200 white perch one night and spent till dawn filleting them. He fondly remember the catching part, however he said he wished they had kept less fish.
I like your thinking! Well done.
Andrew check your math. 5 days/week x 4 weeks/month x 6 months/year = 120 days/year. 3000 / 120= 25 bluegills / day which in some lakes is quite dueable. I do not to clean fish that well but some probably would.
Oops my bad. Sorry about the math. That is what happens when I stay up past my bed time. Thanks for clearing that up.

I don't think that the main issue here is if you can or can't catch 25, 50, or even 100 bluegills in a day. The point that needs to be made is that;
Yes! Absolutly! Bluegills are a renewable resource.
But Big Bluegills take time to grow, and must be allowed to do so. Especially in public waters. That is why selective harvest is so important.
There is only so much that your local governing body (game and parks, department of natural resources, fish and game agencies) can do. We the fishermen and fisherwomen need to be educated as well as we can be, and we need to educate others as well.
I agree 100%.
Let me try to figure all this math out, I should be able to they told me I was a problem child when I was growing up. First let me say that the fisherman,fisherwomen are the ultimate managers of the resources, and they do it with hook and line.Fishing is susposed to be fun.After taking a population sample of the fish a fisherman should be able to tell the health of the populaton and estimate the carrying capacity from the size and numbers collected. It seems like everyone is complaining about how the other guy fishes, althought it wouldn't be right to overfish a fishery thats just poor management, I have no problem catching and keeping big bluegill as Bruce says "When it seems appropriate based on the type of fishery" The waters I have problems with is public waters that are managed for bass and another that is brought down to a puddle every fall to flood timber for duck hunters.The best waters I fish are places that man cannot manage,Mother Nature take care of that all by herself, and She is good at it.
As for fileting fish , with an electric knife I can filet 100-120 an hour,with my helper cutting out the ribs of the slabs of flesh.
We got to remember that bluegills are a renewable resource , and with proper management practices "based on the type of fishery" because all practices don't work well in all places,there will always be big bluegill out there,you just have to find them.
I eat bluegill
I eat big bluegill
I eat lots of fish also. I disagree with your supposition that "Big Bluegills" are a renewable source and that mother nature can cure all fishing ills. Here's why!
I have fished a six lake state park for 20 years that remains pristine by law. I used to catch 6-7 10 inchers a year and many 9 inchers. The average was close to 8". The word spread and I saw out of staters on the waters. I also saw a large increase in Ice fishing. (I don't ice fish anymore) On one occasion when the ice was on I pulled up to a ramp and saw over 100 gills, 8 to 10 inchers, that had been filleted and left by these slobs. Multiply this many times and you will get the picture. I have not caught 1 10" in two years! I e-mailed Larry Daughberg (Big Fish) and he feels that ice fisherman greatly contribute to over harvest. Indiana does not have any limits on gills. I've talked to fisherman on the lake who said they had seventy five big gills. This use to happen all the time. This year I didn't see the number of winter/summer fishermen as in the past and the ice guys really had a bad season. I used to see guys on other lakes with 2 five gallon buckets of crappie and then crappie got scarce and smaller, so afew years ago Indiana went to a 25 limit. Maybe the slabs will come back! Anyway, Thanks for your comment. ***I do measure every fish I clean.
I actually do agree that big bluegill are renewable.

It just takes a lot longer to renew big fish than small fish.

That's why it's a great idea to be able to use resources like BigBluegill to make decisions based on biological principles instead of anecdotal evidence. There are many lakes with bluegill to spare. I have one particular pond that I've manged for ten years, but the last two years I wasn't around much. The body of water is ten acres, and it has countless thousands of 8-9 inch fish that are currently in poor body condition. Underharvest has been the problem recently. There was a tremendous year class that appeared in 2005, and these fish grew to 8 inches quickly. They have now outstripped their resources and are struggling mightily. This is a great opportunity to take large bluegills out guilt-free.

We just need to remind ourselves that there are a myriad of different situations out there. If our goal is plenty of eaters, plus a good chance at a trophy, each fishery needs approached a little differently. We may not agree on every scenario, but the mere fact that we care enough to discuss the situation is justification enough for having a site like this.

Remember. Every situation demands it's own analysis. But if you criticize other bluegill fishermen for their harvest strategies, and if they are abiding by the law, you're probably hampering your own efforts.

Learn, study, discuss, but most of all care. Everything else will take care of itself.
I agree, particularly on your statement that"Every situation demands its own analysis". Are you saying that concerning the 12K lake, that there might be a problem? I know that some lakes can take a lot of fishing pressure while others don't fare so well. There's a hundred variables that could affect the difference. I do have a question for you. In a pond of say 3-4 acres, does a healthy bass population indicate a healthy bluegill poulation? Does eradicating all weeds and algae hurt the fishing?
Tom Swank
Now as a kid I used to practically live with my Grandmother during the summer on the lake and fished the cove from dawn to dusk. (took breaks to swim eat of course as I was only 8).

Since I was just a youngster I of course wanted to keep every fish. Now this did not happen but most were kept. Now these were more your small to average lake BG (perch as we called them) ranging from 4-6 inches with anything large being a monster.

I am sure the lake was full of big ones and still is but I caught all of these out of the little cove right in front of the house.

It is a nice story to tell as my Grandma still has scars on her hand from cleaning over 100 fish one day, (scrapping scales in not all that fun)

With this said I would not keep this many fish today and probably should not have kept them then, but with most of them being small I am sure it either did not make a dent in the population, or allowed the ones left to grow larger.

On an end note I still remember how tasty those little critters were.


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