Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

When I was a kid in southern Ohio, I used to fish any water that was wet! There was a "pay lake” which had a native crappie and bluegill population. The bluegills were little squeaks . . . but I saved everyone, and froze them to use for bait on my winter trap line. I never saw or caught a bluegill of any memorable size there. Old Bill Dugan, my outdoor mentor, thought the bluegill population was probably improved by my youthful depredations.

On the other hand, a cattle and hog farmer named Lou let our family fish his ponds, which was stocked per government standards. I caught a huge bluegill on a pink flatfish (included in the 1,000 piece mail-order family fishing kit - with about 500 of the pieces being fish hooks, 2 cane poles and one marginal spinning rod). My brothers and I all were in the zone.. . catching one huge bluegill after another. We took them ALL home, and ate them. Old Lou the farmer was not pleased to see us dragging every fish away though, and we were (rightly in retrospect) ever permitted to fish there again. . .

The Little Miami River - which I believe was designated as a wild river, had a bunch of hungry little bluegills that fought like monsters! Every fish caught from those pools was a fantastic catch. . . (you had to hike down a steep incline before wading the knee deep water).

Over the years, I release nearly all fish caught. . . after taking maybe four or five fro my old mother-in-law's frying pan. Sometimes, I let every one go, and take a ribbing for never catching any fish!

Varied habitat, measured fishing pressure (lighter is better), and a catch-and-release philosophy for all fishing (the octopus hooks seem to help) are needed.

I take a camera - and that's the proof of the catch. Usually though, it’s just a great memory.
The next generation needs fishing sites and positive fishing experience to create an interest in maintaining and upgrading fishing for all. Local New Jersey - like Van Saun park for example (Paramus) has shallow water ponds which could benefit from a back hoe dredging some long, deep fish holding depths . . . and the local kids who flail these waters before learning that there’s nothin' left could benefit not only from the creation of fish holding habitat, but from some stocking beyond the ravages of the local cormorants.

Gotta go, enjoyed the site again, and ground hogs have said that we have either 6 weeks or a month and half left of winter. warm days are ahead!

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Catch and release has gained a large following these days. Most of the people promoting the idea do it without even considering what they are saying and think that it is ethically wrong to keep a limit of fish.

Lee Wulff one of the most famous fly fishermen made the statement; “A fish is to valuable a resource to only be caught once.” and the fly fishing world has never been the same. Many people interpret this as meaning that all fish, especially trout should be released and if you don’t, you are selfish and you don’t care about protecting the fishery.

Protecting the fishery means making rules and regulations that makes sure fish stocks don’t get so low that the fish are in danger of disappearing all together, not that some fish are removed.

Fish of all kinds reproduce in numbers that guarantee enough will survive to sustain their numbers. In order to do that, almost all species produce excess numbers. We cannot manage our fisheries through cliches. We must allow our professionals in our states to determine sizes and limits to protect them and that is what they do.

Can we as fishermen and women have an impact on a particular fishery? Of course we can and the more educated we become and the more we consider conservation the better the fishing will be.

The fisheries divisions in our states cannot micro manage every lake pond and stream with individual regulations because they do not have the money or resources and most fishermen at least in my state complain that the regulations are already to complex.

If someone post a picture of 250 bluegills a group caught legally, we should commend them and never ask questions like; “What are you going to do with all those fish?” or “Don’t you think you should have left some for the other fishermen?” By asking questions like these you are making an unjust moral statement based on your standards.

A lot of time people will make rhetorical statements as a means of letting others know that they aspire to high standards and have concern about our outdoor sports. Many times it doesn’t even occur to them that they might be offending other sportsmen and women.

In the last ten years, more and more sportsmen and women are becoming more educated about our outdoor sports. One problem I see is that many of them get so smart that they begin to criticize our fish and game departments because they don’t think they know as much as they do or are not managing things the way they think they should be managed.

In the end limits are set to protect our fisheries based on sound science. The fish we keep within the limits are excess fish and provide wonderful table fare and are part of the great tradition of fishing. If you want to impose your own slot limits, or other rules to help balance a local lake or river, that is fine, but please don’t release any fish for me, because I like to think I can catch my own.
Ray makes good points. That's why Big Bluegill Rules state that you should respect other people's harvest strategies. If someone catches and keeps fish legally, then they should not be harassed. One of the best things about this site is that it promotes education about bluegill fisheries that allow us to have discussions in regards to how we can tweak our harvesting to best sustain fisheries that are capable of producing more big bluegill. We can aspire to being conservative in our harvest by never wasting fish and by learning ways to harvest specific fish that give us the best chance of catching a big one. It's been shown scientifically over and over again that fisheries can be overharvested.
Selective harvest is the way to go. The great thing about fishing and hunting here in the USA is that a guy or gal can make it be what they want it to be (within the rules of course). I've fished all my life without knowing, it's not the fish I was looking for, or maybe it was.

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