Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

I've done tons and i mean tons of fishing in my life and would like to get into some bigger panfish and crappie. God only knows how many i've caught. The thing is i see people catching these bluegill in particular that are 10" plus fish. I've been places and caught bucket fulls and never cross the 8" mark. Is this because their not here or just because i've not fulfilled the law of averages and not got any yet? My biggest bluegill ever was 9.5". Just wondered what you guys thought. Do i just need to keep covering different bodies of water until i find one that produces? thanks

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I've been reading all I can recently in regard to finding a trophy BlueGill water. I read a great book that detail the criteria for what makes a Big Bluegill water.
The book is "Bluegill - fly fishing and flies" by Terry and Roxanne Wilson.

It denotes an 8 point system.
1) A nutrient rich water
2) Abundant shallow water
3) Abundant vegetation
4) Warm water temperatures
5) Woody Structure
6) Abundant predators
7) Gently Sloping banks and shorelines
8) Abundant coves

Its goes in to great detail on each aspect and it has proven very true so far in my experience.

6 of the criteria can be evaluatedvisually.

The 9th factor to consider is obviously angler pressure. If lots of people are keeping big blue gills they are to be much harder to come by.

Good luck

Well...all I would say in regard to the formula presented in the book you mention, is to take it with a shaker-full of salt.  In fact, some of the things the list notes as essential, are just as often indicators that the bluegill will be small.  One example: the world-record bluegill came from a small private lake just outside Birmingham, Alabama; it has steeply-sloping banks, almost no cover, no weedgrowth, and water clarity of several feet.  All of these factors were listed by state fisheries biologists who studied the lake, as contributors to the unusually large average size of the bluegill in the lake: the steep banks give the bluegill fewer areas to spawn, thus limiting their numbers; the lack of weedgrowth and cover, along with the clear water, make it easier for the many small bass to prey on small bluegill.  

The Maryland state record bluegill, 3.5 lbs., came from a lake, Deep Creek Lake, that has an average depth of 25', and many steep shorelines.  One of the best public lakes in my state for big bluegill Center Hill, has very deep, clear water, with almost no weedgrowth, and steeply-sloping blanks (many are bluffs).  The Indiana state record bluegill, if I'm remembering correctly a post Tony made about said fish, came from an old strip pit that has steep banks and little cover or vegetation - a 3-lb. fish.

My personal experience has been that at times ponds or lakes with extensive weedgrowth and shallow water will harbor large bluegill, but four times out of five, such lakes will have much smaller bluegill on average than lakes that have less shallow water, and less weedgrowth.  Extensive shallow areas and extensive weedgrowth give small bluegill more refuge from bass, allowing more of the small 'gills to survive, meaning higher numbers and more competition for food.  I worked last year with a large property with several lakes between eight and 120 acres on it; there were three lakes that had more extensive shallow areas and significantly more weedgrowth than the other lakes, and the bluegill averaged 2-4" smaller in those lakes than in the deeper, less-vegetated ones.  The two lakes with the biggest bluegill had almost no weedgrowth - one stand of cattails on the dam in one and none in the other, and negligible cover, and lots of deep water.  My very worst bluegill pond at the moment has abundant shallow water and gently sloping banks for 98% of its shoreline.  And it's swarming with stunted bluegill though I've stocked predators in it several times.

But as far as the warm water temps, abundant predators, and abundant coves, no argument there.  

Thought of a couple more examples: the state record fish for my state, a 3-lb. bluegill, came from a deep mountain lake with not much shallow water, almost no weedgrowth (none at all in the best one), and no cover to amount to anything.  The two best bluegill ponds I have personally managed both have holes over forty feet deep in them; both are old phosphate pits, and thereby have banks that slope more steeply than normal for most of their shoreline.    The percentage of water shallower than three feet would probably be less than 2% of the total area of either pond.

Walt I only highlighted the headings of the 8 pointers, the book goes into much greater detail. It also doesn't say all are essential to producing Big Bluegill.
The lake I am fishing has hardly any wood structure, or coves but it does have most of the other criteria in varying degrees. I've fished it three times so far and caught several 9" fish, 1 @ 10" and have spotted a couple of larger specimens.
I used the criteria set out in the book to select the water, so it's proven itself to me. I am simply passing on the benefit of my own experience, I'm no expert and don't claim to be.
I know there are obviously exceptions to every rule. I've read about the lake Ketona too, it did not have all the 8 factors, but it did have abundant bass population, very light angling pressure and warm Water temperatures.
The poorer waters you mention are likely missing several of the other factors, most notably as you said yourself abundant predators.
With nothing to eat them the population gets stunted. This is true for almost all waters.

Just trying to help, Jason.  A lot of the very best big bluegill waters in the country are deeper lakes, so I would hate for you (or others) to miss out on waters better than the ones you're fishing due to reliance on a formula that has some problems.  Lake Perris, in California, is one of the best public lakes for big bluegill anywhere, and has water up to 100' deep; Lake Barrett, arguably the best public lake in the world for big bluegill, has water to 190' deep.  A photo of a bluegill that easily would have gone three pounds or better was posted on here about three years ago; the fish came from Diamond Valley Lake, which averages 200' deep.  Lower Otay reservoir has produced many bluegill over two pounds, including the California state record fish of 3.5 lbs., and it has water to 137 feet deep.  One of the best big bluegill lakes in Minnesota, Lake Osakis, averages 35' deep.

I do agree with some of the elements that the authors say to look for - just think some of those elements are not good guides for choosing big-bluegill waters.

Walt is smack on. Perris has extremely high panfish pressure at the northern beaches, but very little to none at the southern and eastern areas. These areas are hard to get to. However, most of the smaller males hang near the northern end, where the smarter larger ones hang at the southern and eastern areas. Anglers on boats target prime spots for these large panfish in luxury. There are still honey spots at the lake that some of us know, and will be responsible in catch and release those large males and exceptional large females. There are also reserved spots on this lake to prevent people from fishing, allowing the panfish to spawn without disturbance.

Diamond Valley Lake, that lake is primarily being focused on striped bass. Panfish, trout and catfish, very very low pressure on those species.

You also have the mysterious Lake Matthew that had not been fished by the public yet. There will be monsters in that lake.

There's also Lake Skinner (Skinner Reservoir) that also produced very exceptional BGs and REs due to low fishing pressure for panfish.

You also have Silverwood Lake that has minimal to no panfish pressure for the past decade. There are 4 prime spots on that lake that produce massive BGs and REs if one is dedicated enough to spend the time to get to those spots.

Looking forward to bringing my boat up your way next spring, so you can, uh, show me around ;-)

You betcha!

The California BG record from Lower Otay was actually eclipsed by a 3-14 monster from Rancho Murrieta Res., near Sacramento:

Trouble is, I can't figure out exactly which lake around Rancho Murieta they mean, none of them seem to be named that, but there are a bunch of small lakes there. It's apparently a  gated community and you need to live there or know somebody to fish them. I guess that's about as close to private BG water as we get in California.

I was surprised to find on that same page records for fish that I didn't even know were present in California: pumpkinseed (1-0) and warmouth (15 oz.), both from up here in the northern half of the state.

Looking forward to getting to sample the 'gills at Barrett after I move south. People average 20 bass a day there, but I'll confine myself to BG :)


Once you're down south, we'll hunt for stripers all day long either at Diamond Valley or Lake Silverwood. Although, the fees just to get onto the water is enough to kill your bank account.

I don't think I have any tackle that's really up to a striper. I do have a baitcasting reel, but I don't really know how to use it very well.

My motor is a 2-stroke; I seem to recall reading somewhere that DVL doesn't allow 2-strokes? How about Silverwood? I'm looking forward to getting out on Lake Cuyamaca in a boat, too. It's a long haul into the moutains, but I love to fish there.

I'd have to say, simply, to look for healthy bass populations if you want to find trophy sunfish.

The bass-bluegill connection is well documented. Paradoxically, it is predation on the bluegill that makes for larger bluegill. In its basic form, the fish that survive predation then have less competition from their fellows for their selected food. This allows them to grow to larger size and at the same time promotes a population that will continue this trend. Call it selective breeding, if you like.

My home lake, one of the SE's largest impoundments, imposes a size limit on both LMB's and striped bass. These are the apex predators  - and I still catch a lot of smaller gills. But I also snag some whoppers on occasion.

Some general points are also worth considering -

> Look to the deeper side of structure/cover - wood, rock and weed - where the depth is anywhere from 7-15 feet. 

> Know what the fish feed on and what you have in your bag of tricks that is similar. 

> Larger sunfish will hit artificials depending on the temperature. These help to "weed out" the smaller fish. My favorites are the smallest spinners weedless spoons and jigs.

> When fishing for bluegills, think bass fishing - but smaller. They are cousins, after all, in the same family of fishes.

> READ. Know your quarry and study the methods used by other, successful anglers.


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