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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It might be safe to say that the fella you were talkin' to was stretching the truth a bit...12,000 fish calculated into avg stats would be 3000 each....30 visits to the lake @ 100 fish per outing each...not likely. I can only assume that there was no daily bag limit at the lake in question. Definately an over-harvest scenario.

Anyone who truly loves bluegills and the future of bluegill fishing should respect this renewable resource and only take what you can appropriately use. Giant fish should always be released (they simply don't taste that good) their progeny are the key to sustaining a healthy bluegill population.

First I will say that I do not condone this. I only keep what I plan on eating that day. This week in 5 outings have caught around 250 Bluegill, and 6 Largemouth. I think it could be done, and some guys I know would, and then never eat the fish. That is why I don't share very many fish stories with people out of my circle.

Frankly,why would you want to clean that many,I got got about 10 to 15 fish in me to fillet at any one time.I kept a limit once early this year and said no more to much work.
I agree completely with Bill and Rob. Bluegill are delicious. I'm always happy to know that I've got a few nice filets in the freezer. That being said, my posession limit in the state of Nebraska is 60 fish, and I know I'm never anywhere near that. I think I have two beautiful packages of 12 fish each in the freezer right now. All 7-8 inches. When it seems appropriate based on the type of fishery, I'll even keep some nice, fat 8-9 inchers in moderation, but I agree with Bill that the bigger fish simply don't seem to be as tasty. Maybe it's the fact that they WERE bigger fish and my conscience is playing with me a little bit, but I think that 12,000 is ridiculous. I did laugh however at your comment about not seeing many big fish lately in that fishery.
I would be happy with 1 eatable size bluegill, sigh.
Mark Twain said something about an "Honest Man" I just can't remember.
I've eaten some pretty small bluegill in my day :-) And do you know what? The inverse of the really big ones not tasting as good is also true: the tiny ones taste the best.

Now that California has a daily limit, it's harder to keep the small ones, as Bill pointed out :-(
that has to be a lie 12,000 bluegills thats why there are not alot of big bulls in most lakes i mean if you catch 20 or 30 bulls thats a good mess
When bag limits are in place, they sometimes lead to a new level of over-harvest. Many anglers that are sanctioned by daily bag limits feel they must target the largest fish during their limit quest.....this is where the real damage occurs.

Harvesting the largest gills (especially big males) can cause irreparable damage to lakes and ponds, whereas the harvestation of medium size gills would promote a lakes ability to produce trophy sized gills.

Selective harvest is key, reducing daily bag limits on heavily pressured waters may not be the answer.....When it comes to the future of bluegill fishing...Less IS more!
Well I am kind of on the fence here, in one respect I think there should be bag limits on numbers and size. But then again if you have a BOW that is full of all the same size fish then I think some need to be taken out. Plus if you to get the GIANT GILLS I believe that overcrowding will not allow this.

I am sure that most of the larger fish do not taste that good, but then again it probably depends on the makeup of the BOW along with the age of the fish. I am sure a 2+ pound gill that is 7+ years old would not come close to one that is say 3. But of course what have they eaten what gets dumped in the water, etc.

I also agree with Bill as when people are given rules, restriction, what have you they feel like they have to either target larger fish, or just break laws altogether because; well as humans we typically do not want to be told what to do.

I will also be honest here, it is pretty hard for me to turn a large fish back, and it is due to many thoughts that come to mind. If I do not keep this, the next guy behind me will, or I have never caught one this big before, I have the worst sunburn in my life I have to have something to show for it.

But really I love to fish as much as anyone on here and absolutely want to keep as good of fisheries as possible for others to enjoy, but I do not get to fish anywhere near the amount as most on here, and I have yet to find a BOW like Bill has, with all them GILLS in it. I think if I were to catch them each and every time I went then I would know they were in there, take no more than we can eat, or want to clean, and come back the next trip and do the same.

As you can see form some of my pics that are posted we have not taken more than 30 or so and that is just due to the size and the fact that my two little girls can put down some gills. I usually have to pull some catfish out or something from the freezer to add to it.

Again I love to fish, love to take my girls out when they can handle it, and just enjoy a little R&R at whatever BOW calls us that day. I hope to hear others comments on this issue as it will be a great topic to follow.
Excellent commentary Zach.
I believe that first and foremost, if people follow the laws, what more can you really ask of them. But on the other hand, by educating ourselves on bluegill biology, we can make individual decision that make for better bluegill fishing. Just keep in mind everybody, that these types of topics are important, but can be volatile. Careful to all. Zach has a nice diplomatic way of expressing his feelings, and I really appreciate what he has to say.

Just so you know....if this topic seems to get a little edgy, I'll freeze it. :-)

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