Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

 Not sure what all the contributing factors are but 2014 has been an amazing panfish season to date in Coastal North Carolina......Despite getting hit by a wave of tornadoes in late April and a brush by a CAT 2 hurricane on the 4th of July......this year has been productive since New Year's Day........I've already experienced quantity records for Black Crappie and the Summer bite continues to be incredible........I topped 3,000 Crappie earlier in July and sit at 3,151 as of 8/1/2014 with 617 of those fish at 13" or larger......Even July has been productive for Crappie with 417 crossing the decks........I'm also on a record pace for Bluegills but the remainder of 2014 will be very busy at work so the jury is still out........As of 8/1/2014, 3,619 gills have been caught this year on the Albemarle with 1,470 10" class fish or better......It has been a blast getting several new folks out with me to wet a line and of course our traditional Abney Family Vacation was special again this year......Here's a few pictures I put together to look back on this great season........Let's hope the rest of the year is just as good......

 All the rivers on the Albemarle have healthy populations of Black Crappie.....Anything of 13" or better is a River Slab in my opinion.....most fish are in the 10 to 12 inch class with fish up to 16" routinely caught in these waters,

99 percent of the speckled perch in these rivers are Black.......very few White Crappie in the rivers of the Albemarle......

A Solid Crappie Daily Double from Early May on the Albemarle......

Even in the heart of the Summer we find quality fish in the shallows on flooded cuypress....

May delivered as usual....

I love it when the Big Gills and Crappies are packed in together....usually occurs in early May...

Quality Coppernose dominate our brackish water rivers.....

A Classic Coppernose Daily Double....

Memorial Day weekend produced this nice pair.....

Caught in the same area a big bull shark was caught last summer....

Remember this region is only 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean....

My nephew Dan caught his personal best gill back in June at 1 pound 12 ounces......a great fish that will probably go to Tim Overbaugh....

My Avatar picture comes from the most productive water I fish for large bluegills.......

I owe my success in this body of water to all the information I got from a man almost 90 years old....

This monarch gill comes from a location that I save every year for just 4 to 6 trips to minimize pressure and optimize the trophy gills that reside there......an amazing place to fish and I'm usually sleepless the night before......Going back there at least one more time this summer....

And finally earlier this week after work on Tuesday......I crossed paths with my best gill of 2014 and what a tribute to the waters I fish year round.....A great season and I still have five months......incredible fishing this year for sure........

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Thank you Jeff for giving then a try and keeping me updated. I'm glad they worked out for you but it helps to know were the fish are in all conditions so the jigs were only a small of the big picture but I'm confident they do catch fish.

Always amazed at the passing years, and the achievement you've bring forth. Either new personal best, or variety of catches that are incredible, or rather, improbable.

Now, you got to have a new year's resolution Jeffrey. Catch a gator (new personal best each time of course) using your existing gears. May need to invest in cable wire leaders. Now, don't forget to weigh in those snapping turtles as well. They are incredibly interesting catches. It'll be interesting to catch the human species on your lines as well, but of course, that will be pure luck ;-)

Thanks Leo.....I'll see what I can do for the reptiles next season.......I catch most of my snapping turtles while crabbing with hand lines.......but do snag a couple during the spring when the males are on the prowl and their guard is let down..........

Well we sit a couple weeks into December and what a difference a week made.......Early December was met with the spawn of several coastal storms bringing small craft advisories all across the Albemarle......Got home from work on Saturday afternoon the 6th and headed out in the rain.........boated 23 gills in a cold drizzle and rather low water conditions.......Turn the calendar one week and we were blessed with calm winds and mild temperatures on both days........My dear spouse in the malls so I did what every Bluegill fanatic does......I went fishing both days adding 89 gills and only five crappie......So my totals with two weeks to fish in 2014 stand at 5,295 for gills and 3,977 for Crappie.......I'll be chasing those 23 crappie during the holidays even if I have to fish in the tank at Bass Pro Shops while cashing in a gift certificate.......LOL

On a rather mild first day of Winter 2014,  I caught light Northeast winds creating a falling wind tide on a local creek and the Crappie were mixed in with suspended shad pods in a deep hole......picked up 34,  most were 11 to 12 inches with several 13" class fish.......Water was 42 degrees and still not stained at this point........the Allen Morgan mantis jig was the ticket today.......This pushed my total Crappie for 2014 to 4,011 and I added 8 gills improving that number to 5,303.............It has been a truly  rewarding year on the Albemarle and with winter finally here I can begin my count down to 3/21/2015........first day of Spring 2015!

Nice!  Good-looking fish as well!

Which version of the Mantis Jig was doing the catching?

I fished the pink and olive simultaneously, both worked well on this day......

Got to the coastal marsh today and as advertised the milder conditions and heavy overcast were positive factors............The Crappie were hugging the slopes along a creek channel and were plucked out using minnow tipped jigs four to six feet under a float and also bottom bouncing jigs in the same creek. Water still stained a bit from five inches of rain last week and sitting at 51.7 degrees........Not a lot of big fish but a total of 71 tidal crappie up to 12.5 inches taking me to 4,082 for 2014........Also snagged a dozen Fliers and a couple gills taking my 2014 total to 5,315 with maybe one more trip this week before New Years Day......

A really fine mess of tablefare.......

The Speckles were busy today.....lot of fun!

The Fliers are golden this time of year similar to a "calico" Crappie........... 

Well the latest coastal storm passed through coastal North Carolina on Monday so I charged up the batteries and set everything up for a trip behind the front earlier today..........Had to dress in layers with wind chills down in the low 30s and wet from a heavy mist.......felt like I would have an out going wind tide with the northerly winds but the water was down over a foot overnight but it was overcast.....Water is still stained from over six inches of rain in the past week.........Only other boats at the launch this morning were chasing wood ducks so I yielded to them to get out first.........Put in and cruised down to one of my deeper holes with water temps sitting at 47 degrees.......Marked heavy shad pods suspended and fish were marking near bottom in fourteen to sixteen feet of water........put out a couple minnow tipped jigs and right away one went down but I knew it wasn't a crappie when I set the hook.......turned out to be three pound bowfin that shook off near the boat.......Pulled out my bluegill rig while the minnows fished and pinched a red wiggler to add to my #10 pink Brobug......started picking up some nice gills but they were located rather shallow near the top of the drop off........Wound up taking seventeen with one 10" class copper........crappie were scattered and I never missed a bite after the bowfin landing 11 tidal Crappie and a couple bass........rain and winds picked up so I decided to cut it short to get home and clean my Crappie Bounty from Sunday......

Might get to go tomorrow for a little while but we'll see........17 gills takes me to 5,332 and 11 crappie moves me up to 4,093 Crappie for the year........2014 has truly been special and with no major storms and the associated fish kills 2015 looks promising..........

Didn't make it out today but 2014 has truly been "one for the ages"..........I turned 50 earlier this year and often reflect on my memories of the great outdoors dating all the way back to my childhood growing up on the bayous and family farms down in South Louisiana.......Those care free early days were in fact priceless but you don't realize that until you're grown up and meeting life's challenges.  I had a great childhood fishing year round hosted by any number of family members that also shared a passion as many do in the Sportsman's Paradise......Whether that be on a bucket with a cane pole next to my Papa Foster Abney or running from pond to pond on Papa Monroe Sharp's family farm taking my catches back in a five gallon bucket to show anyone that cared........including a largemouth bass weighing just under 9 pounds on a piece of fat back I snuck out of Grandma Vernie's fridge back in the early 70s......I've been on trips which I've caught over 200 gills on one trip at the Toledo Bend Grass Flats......not realizing why that many fish were in one area until several years later when a drought completely exposed this area and the 1,173 bluegill beds that lined this acre of land, an amazing thing to think about. I think about the family marina on Lake Ponchartrain where an inspirational Uncle taught me the significance of using live grass shrimp and pink baits in tannic brackish waters......things that define my fishing still today...I caught 4.093 Black Crappie in 2014 and that's my personal best but far short of Uncle Kenny's average of 7,800 sacalait for six years in a row from 1976 through 1981. I have enjoyed great Bluegill fishing my entire life but never at the sustained level I'm experiencing now......Part of this is my dedication and determination but that's not enough if the areas I fish are without the target species in quality and numbers......This region in coastal North Carolina is special to the angler inside me and I'm thankful everyday that the stars aligned and I ended up with that first opportunity I was given to discover this gem in public waters....My total of 5,332 gills in 2014 only matters to me but what a blast I had, most often fishing alone but sharing the water and many secrets with close friends and family throughout this year! My New Year's resolution is to keep doing what I do......Go fishing when I can and let that create all the memories, it has served me well in the past!

Outstanding year! I just joined here and finding some of your posts poking around for info is a big reason why. I am also in NC, but near Raleigh. I am a little over 5 years your senior but somewhat less accomplished in the fish catching department. I do okay, but not thousands per year. I did have a 100+ day this year on a Piedmont river and a 60+ on the same river a week later, but most of my days are 20 or less. Sometimes a lot less. I fish out of a kayak mostly UL for bream, crappie and white perch but also generally carry a rod for the occasional bass cast and I have been known to soak stinky bait for cats as well. 

I have been fishing over 50 years and a lot of it has been for panfish in the South. I have my sights set on bigger and better this year. I am planning to make it down to or near the coast more this year, sometimes into the briny blue, sometimes inshore and sometimes just above where it seems the biggest bream seem to hang out.

Anyway, congrats on the great year! I will likely be bugging you for some tips and may make it up that way sometime. The Neuse, Tar/Pamlico and Cape Fear/tributaries are a lot closer time wise and I will be hitting them more. The upper reaches of the Cape Fear and Neuse and the lakes that feed them are my home water.

-Andy

Hey Andy welcome and I appreciate the kind words.  Good to hear from North Carolina anglers.....we are fortunate to live in one of the top Bluegill destinations in America....Brackish water is my specialty and I'm surrounded by it in my coastal region in Northeast corner of the state. I most often fish with telescopic poles but will pick up a fly rod or spin casting rig from time to time.......Coppernose gills have adapted well to our tannic water in the coastal Estuaries.......Feel free to look around and ask questions...... 

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