Bluegill - Big Bluegill

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Skill vs. Experience and how it applies to bluegill fishing.

Are they one and the same? I used to think so, but  these days I tend to divide the two. I do believe that with experience, skill SHOULD increase, but it's not guaranteed. If I travel to a BOW some states away in order to catch bluegills, one that I have never fished before, I might let experience tell me where to begin my efforts. And I'm reasonably confident that I will find a few. But, that's not necessarily skill is it? On the other hand, if I can zero in on the biggest size class of bluegills in that new BOW and  begin bringing them up fairly quickly and regularly, then perhaps that might entail some skill.

And what about our "home" waters? An estuary in the Carolinas, a deep reservoir in California, cold water Michigan or backyard ponds in Indiana? Waters we know very well. Skill?? Or experience? I submit that whenever I fish my home water, I am relying far more on experience than skill. To me, skill entails the ability to travel to waters never before fished, and successfully target the largest size class of bluegills located therein, without spending weeks searching, or enlisting the services of a local guide. I've mentioned before the need to fish where big bluegills live in order to catch big bluegills. Big bluegills don't live everywhere. Knowing where the bruisers inhabit takes experience in home waters, and skill in unfamiliar waters. Or at least that's how I see it.

Could we travel to each other's home waters, and successfully target the largest specimens in the absence of outside help?? Skill, or experience? Can you have one and not so much the other? How confident are you in your skill set being able to target those larger fish in unfamiliar waters?

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Nature's perfect food-  Hot Dogs.   

I usually fish about 4-6  ponds, lakes or streams outside my home pond each year. Zero electronics but my fishing is usually fixed line at 10 feet or less from shore. Using fixed line I can cover a lot of ground really fast  

i fished one day without electronics within the past 3 seasons.... it was terrible. i was in the kayak and forgot the battery at home left on charge. i changed my game plan and concentrated tight to the bank and surprisingly/ luckily did well. found so many late spawners or multi spawners that kept me really busy. again... i lucked out. i was ready to go back home.

i have grown addicted to that constant tug on the line and electronics helps me achieve that.

plus im a computer/electronics geek...lol

The tug is the drug .BTW,  Like the way you adapted based on skill set and experience   :)

All I do is fish outside, open deep public water. I fish with and without electronics and a catch about the same because I've established patterns over time. When all else fails troll. In fact I've just about abandoned casting altogether. (Most artisan fishing methods don't use rod & reel anyway.) A methodical searching of the entire water column and the entire breadth of the section of river I'm fishing. Electronics does all that in one pass.

They're all are in different parts of the water column at various times. If there a mosquito hatch happening on the river, and the blue gill are top water feeding, I'm probably going to fish with a float shallow out break out the fly rod tipped with worms. With a multi-species approach I'm nearly always going to catch something. It just so happens that bream and catfish are often in the bottom of the water column and often frequent the same waters. Spotted bass often stay higher.

Often I see school of shad o the electronics, but nothing chasing that school of shad. That's great for throwing a cast net to get bait for catfish. But then again I don't like throwing a cats net form such a small jon boat as mine in open water.

Wow...really nice discussion here. A couple of thoughts...

I'm probably different here in that 95% of my fishing, for all species including bluegills, is done from the shoreline. Yes I have a boat and a kayak, but most of my fishing is done in any one of 30 or more small public and private lakes along the Mason Dixon Line in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Most of these waters are from 2-10 acres and no deeper than 10 ft...many are shallower. Bluegills and other fish are never 'deep', even during the winter. If there is access to the deepest water near dam breasts then I can usually find fish in these areas even during mid winter and reach them from the shore. Structure is usually weeds, shoreline brush, fallen wood and some rock.

On the Delmarva Pensula, I fish millponds and the spillways immediately below them for panfish, bass, pickerel , perch or shad species. Seasonal timings are paramount for success. In the small, dishpan dynamics of my local waters, fish are seldom deep, because there is almost no deep water. I believe that the highest majority of anglers on this site would be very successful on my home lakes with the skills that they currently possess. Throughout the entire open-water season, spring summer, fall and winter, I catch the overwhelming majority of my fish using simple fixed bobber and jig applications to catch fish from 3 to 8 ft below the surface. Ocassionally, I'll go to a drop-shot/live bait approach or cast spoons for fish. Through January to December, there is little variation from these patterns.

What probably makes the biggest difference in my success on bluegills and other species is that I am always, ALWAYS, searching, researching, hunting down, seeking out, Google-mapping, talking to other anglers and in general, on a constant quest for QUALITY panfish water, 12-months a year. About 1 in 3 searches pans out, so I spend more time investigating than I sometimes do fishing.

For example, I need some photo support for a pickerel article I am doing for In Fisherman. Pickerel arn't just anywhere in my region, so I researched a public venue that is still 50 miles north that has produced them as large a 27 inches recently. I have secured what I believe to be accurate reports and viewed recent pics of quality fish from reputable contacts. I am targeting Black Friday to fish this lake as warmer weather is predicted that day. They are aggresive and favor cold water and I am pretty sure I can get a couple for the camera. BUT...it might not pan out...and that's how fishing is.

If I were put on some of those deeper, clearer California lakes with those monster coppernose, or a Minnesota gem with northern giants, I'd surely struggle somewhat and it would require a learning curve. But here at home, most people could probably do as well as I do once they located water that has big gills, simply because of the water body dynamics. Seasonal timings and knowledge of fish movement is also key when fishing small waters. I had a 116-fish day last Thursday in 50-degree rain from a public lake. Most folks in my area are long done the panfish gig by now, but I knew that rising temperatures, cloud cover and a southwest wind would position fish over an extensive shallow flat that I located in this lake from Google Earth sattelite images. So skill and experience do pay off, in most cases.

This video sums it up best, nice little documentary:


In a situation like this, your father, your father's father, his father, wisdom, knowledge, skill and experience has been passed down from father to son, uncle to nephew for hundreds of years. There's no need for electronics. The knowledge is preserved via oral tradition.

I don't live in that situation. However with the advent of magazines, videos and forums like this, the traditions spread and develop much faster in a general sense, but in a specific sense on my own waters nothing replaces time on water, and nothing reveals what's under the water like electronics.
I've been following this discussion since Tony started it. Trying to figure out how I go about fishing, took me awhile to figure it out. I am strictly a fly fisherman, never have used any kind of electronics. Got rid of my motorized boat years ago, trying to make my life fishing go a little slower. First a personal pontoon boat, then a kayak and now a Adirondack Guideboat. I really enjoy my time fishing now going at a slower pace. Experience has taken me along way getting around lakes. Each day on the water is different. Experience has shown me the way. Trying to figure out the puzzle, fit the pieces make fishing fun for me. I love to read the water, weather and figuring it all is what brings me back. I am what you might call " old school". My fumbling skills casting a fly rod has gotten me a lot of fish. Some days are better (and easier) than others but I keep flinging the long rod. Tying flies keep me sane (?). Great discussion. Waiting to hear everybody's opinion.

I agree with everything you said. This is the only way to fish, i.e., fish based on the underlying, overarching and all encompassing philosophies, ethics, and reason why you fish. This alone dictates the methods, tactics, equipment and solutions.

For instance I started fishing from the bank, then built a pirogue, then eventually built a 6.5 horsepower Thailand long tail outboard to power a small 12 ft jon boat. All the while developing streamers, harnesses, growing live bait, making and selling my own floats, then saving enough money to buy electronics.

Now I'm about to ditch the fishing rod altogether because it gets in the way of how I fish. A simple hand line is far more efficient for me. Well guess what? Over the years I've rediscovered the old arts of artisan fishing: an old school of a different breed, back when you had to fish to feed your family.

Again the methods one uses come from the reason one fishes. The question of professional fishing came up in a previous response. There are two kinds of professional fishermen in the world: professional sport fishermen and professional artisan/commercial fishermen.

A sport fisherman fishes differently that an artisan fisherman. An artisan fishes differently than an industrial commercial outfit. (Artisan fishing defined as small-scale sustenance fishing. Meat fishing as most people call it.)

For me I've "abandoned" the long rod. Tying harnesses keeps me fed. Different reasons. Different methods. Different gear. Even the watercraft I depends on the reason I fish.

No method is superior to another. There is only the reason each of us fish. We all have to decide why we fish. Let the strategy dictate tactics. Don't let tactics dictate strategy. Or else your fishing will become like the Vietnam War: It is possible to win all battles yet lose the war. Use electronics because it fits your reason why, not because it fits your how. Use a fly rod because it fits with your reason why, not because if fits your how, so on and so forth. Everything we do in fishing should stem from the reason why we're fishing, not from how we see other people fishing.

Damon, appreciate the overview and the passion but I feel the how is equally as important as to the why. I tend to fish more of a traditional method moving from UL spin fishing to a fixed line set up about three years ago. How determines both the strategy and tactics deployed. To me, the challenge is in using techniques that have been documented in many different cultures  putting food on the table for the last 2,000+ years. The difference now is that while telescopic  poles and lines have changed, the overall experience should be the same. 

Some fish for the meat, some fish for the personal challenge, some fish for the experience.. it's all good.

JDA

Lots of good thoughts here. Seems like most apply to home waters, and rightfully so. What happens when we travel? Any changes made?

Remember also that here at BBG we welcome all styles and methods, provided they are legal. But also respect the fish....you may not be able to fish down their numbers, but excessive harvests can certainly impact the quality of fish caught. Harvest selectively, enjoy the resource, and leave those bigger fish for another generation.

this is a excellent read ! something to think about with electronics; if I am correct; a depth finder usually has a beam; of a 30 foot circle;; thats 15 feet; from center !  ok;; say if your drifting ( like I usually do)  and scanning below;; and  casting 20 to 30 feet away; its way out of the range of a depth finder correct??  and I still catch fish ! experience has taught me-  to cast towards banks; wood structure; that I can not always get close to !  one very big reason I use a depth finder;; in the past 5 years;; i had to buy 3 props !!  found stumps the hard way ;; my boat motor is not a stump jumper;; tears the dickens out of them !!    and guys;; Tony is very correct;; we are borrowing; our resources from our kids;; lets make sure they have the same fun fishing for gills; or what ever; as we do !! dont over harvest !

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