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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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I learned about Lake Champlain in school a long time ago, and I learned it in the deep south, nowhere near Vt, NY or Canada. It is an important part of our early American history. I just Googled it. One article said Lake Champlain had just been named “Bass Fishing Capital of America” by Outdoor Life magazine. That sounds like good fishing. A healthy bass population has a healthy bluegill population. If market fishing for panfish is legal there, and the biologist think it helps, sounds like it is working, at least for the bass fisherman.

I picked cotton as a kid for 3 cents a pound. I also picked up coke bottles thrown out by the roadside and sold them to a local store for 3 cents each. I got paid cash. If nobody was paying me I don't think that even as a dumb kid that I would have been in those "prosperous" enterprises very long. Point is, it's not the 3 cent a pounders, or the $1.50 a pounders who are the problem. It's the people who are making the 'real" money. That's not the local buyer either, he's just making ends meet, maybe. It's the New York City end of it. Get mad at them, or the bass sportsmen who want smaller bluegill their beloved bass can swallow.

As for the FDA, when they actually start policing the mainstream food chain like they should ( half a billion eggs recalled that never should have gotten by FDA to start with), maybe they can go after the bluegill sellers. And the tax man, he can kill this problem quick, but then what is he going to kill next? Sports fishing? Talk about an insatiable appetite, Big Brother's got one.

Lake Champlain has been around a lot longer than we have or will be. The website pictures of it I just saw looked great. The fishing will survive. Will we if we fuss instead of fish?
I'm with Bill...that is an unbelievable rape of the fishery with total disregard to the environment. Can anything be done?
25 to 30 fish is all I want to clean at a time Thats enough to make a nice meal
If few of the gills were over 7 inches then surely the lake is overpopulated. Taking a lot out is good for this overpopulated/stunted population of fish. In my home lake, 2,000 acre Morse Reservoir, taking out 500,000 of the stunted gills probably wouldn't help. Keeping a few might help some lakes and hurt others. My aunt always had big bluegill in her pond. She instructed us to throw the small ones over our shoulder.
I know for a fact that this is not impossible. The question is were they of any quality that most of us are used to? Where I live you can catch 100 an hour if you like gill's as big as your bait! We got some monster gillies up here because every one started keeping every gill they caught for three or for years so the lakes wouldn't be so stunted. The fish and game even started putting tiger muskie in to solve the problem but the problem is tiger's prefer stocked trout over the fish they were intended to eat. I'm a true believer if your pond or lake is not producing the quality of gills you want it's because the lake is overrun with stunted fish and to few predatory fish! Now were nailing monster gills over a pound regulary Pat "Gilly"Wade
I notice in talking to some of my fishing buddies. The more beer they drank the more fish they caught.
Now, tell me, Rick: just WHY did you have to start blabbing our secret methods? :)

Seriously, I think one thing everyone is forgetting about this whole topic is this: most of the people out fishing for 'gills will only catch the small ones (6" or less) because of their methods. It takes a little skill to catch the larger ones. Having to drop your bait below the little ones, into the deeper holes where "mama" lives, is just not in the vocabulary of most casual fishermen. Even among the serious fly fishers, letting your fly drop past the agressive babies, then working it slow enough to keep it down there for the big ones, is just not a common method. So, while it's true on most of the waters I've fished that there are too many "little uns", you have to remember who it is who's telling you there are no big fish there anymore. Are they good, skilled fishermen or casual "weekend warriors"?

Personally, I think I haven't been taking enough of the small ones I catch (and yes, I DO catch a bunch of small ones), simply because I don't like cleaning those little ones (not enough return for the effort, I guess). I'm going to TRY to change that because, as I said, there ARE too many little ones. :) But that doesn't mean that "mama" isn't lurking down there below.
Recently, I had a reverse of trend for bluegill. Fishing the 18 acre church camp. The smallest bluegill were in the deepest part of the lake, smack dab on the bottom in 23 feet of water. The big ones were in from 7-10 ft. I believe the small ones were in deep water to escape the many stunted bass.

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