Do you love big bluegill?
I know members come from various parts of the nation, so what do YOU consider a Big Bluegill?
I frequently see pictures and reports of 'gills that dwarf the ones I catch here. I personally consider anything over 9" to be worthy of recognition in the waters I usually fish. The public access waters here give me 8" 'gills fairly frequently, but I usually have to seek out privately owned ponds & lakes to catch anything much bigger than that.
8.5" and over is what i consider exceptional . I don't think I caught more than one that was 10" here in New Jersey.I never fished a private pond or Bluegill management body of water though. Public lakes and rivers and some Private lakes is what I have access to.
Must be a Jersey thing, I've caught one that went 10" from a park pond where the "big ones" are usually about 7.5 - 8". Got lots in the 8.5 - 9" range in other waters in NJ. I think a 12" bluegill would scare me!
I will address bluegill only since that was Mike's question........I happen to live in the extreme northeastern portion of the coppernose bluegill range.......I'm delighted to catch many bluegills in the 10" class and normally take around a hundred between 10" to 12" in a calendar year. Many of the ten inch fish will be approaching or hit one pound class which is my weight for a trophy class gill.....Normally a few fish approach two pounds but most years we don't catch one that big..........I always release the fish over ten inches because I value those trophy waters more than any other fishing destination.........I still can't believe how many public areas I can catch trophy gills with so much talk of their demise in many places.............North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission manages in a way to preserve the fishery and still sights our fragile Estuaries as the biggest threat to bluegill and other freshwater gamefish...............I'm delighted to have a forum like Bigbluegill.com to share my exploits and fishing with. Many of you would do great around here with many different techniques than I use.......the hard spot is having a great fishery and then working together to preserve it...........Local brackish water coppers benefit locally from so many efforts to promote other fisheries........we are blessed on the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds in coastal North Carolina............But as good as it has been in recent years my guess is it was even better form time to time in the natural life cycle of our environment...............Good luck everyone in 2017!
I like to classify them into (3) categories…
Big-8”to 9” which are 8 year old-fish in my neighborhood
Then there is the 9-10” class which are true lunkers
Now when they hit and exceed that magic 10” mark that’s when they are trophies… Historically there has been (2) 10” plus certificate gills taken out of my home lake in the past 10 Years…
AS FOR ME;; IVE CAUGHT 6 INCH BLUE GILLS THAT FOUGHT LIKE HEAVY WEIGHT PRIZE FIGHTERS; AND CAUGHT SOME REALLY NICE ; 9 INCH GILLS;; THAT HARDLY PUT UP A DESCENT FIGHT ! I ENJOY THE FIGHT; AS WELL ; OR MORE SO;; THAN THE ACTUAL SIZE OF THE GILL; BUT THATS JUST ME !
I would agree. I have one pond I fish that has some really chunky 'gills in it, but I've never caught one that would go 10". Another pond has 10" 'gills, but they are thin & pale colored. That pond was treated with the dye to keep weeds out for several years, and I think it lacked the nutrients the fish need. The owner stopped with the dye a few years ago, so hopefully they will fatten up in the future.
MIKE;; FOR CONSIDERATION;; LOOK AT BRUCE CONDELLOS PICTS. OF SOME OF THOSE HUGE BLUE GILL HE HAS CAUGHT !! AND;; !!! CHECK OUT;; LEDHEADS PIXS !! THOSE WOULD BE--- TROPHY BLUE GILLS FOR ANYBODY !!
I kind of feel bad so those fishermen that do not have accesses to large Bluegill. Also the other fishermen that think their local Bluegill are big when they are 8 inches long. It was the same way for me until I met my neighbor a few years ago who showed me how to fish for and catch Bluegill that are true trophy catches in many states in the U.S.! Of course it really helps to live close to a lake that has an abundant population of giant Bluegill and that my "teacher" is Big Bluegill expert Sonny D., better known here as "LedHed". Now a 7 to 8 inch Bluegill is eating size, and a 9 to 10 inch fish is a "nice one", and an 11 to 12 inch fish is one that is handled very carefully to CPR (catch, photograph and release) so as to help maintain the population of big trophy sized panfish in the lake. Actually we are careful with all fish we catch.. most are released. There are not a lot of 12 inch fish caught, but enough are caught periodically to make every trip a chance of catching one. I am fairly certain that there are a population of 13 inch 3 pounders swimming in the lake. Our local Bass Pro Shops aquarium has a couple that are easily 3 pounders that were caught at Lake Perris by bass fishermen.
For me personally, an 11 inch Bluegill is a Big Bluegill, but this year I will beat my personal best of 12 inches and make a replica of it. ( Ha ha! Hopefully!)
Don't feel bad, some of us are looking in the other direction for size ( Micro - Fishing). My personal goal is a 1 inch Bluegill. I got close this year at 1.25 inches. Small for me is a challenge since most terminal tackle is designed for large fish.
Any gill that overhangs my hand is big by my standards
I have always believed that any bluegill over 10 inches to be an exceptional fish just about anywhere in the country. The Southern California lakes are indeed exceptional with their larger fish and anglers in those regions are very blessed. In my home waters along the Mason Dixon Line I have located several smaller public lakes that are producing 10-inch class fish. An 11 inch fish in my area is quite rare, and they are usually caught from private venues. In each of the last two seasons, I have caught and released six individuals over the 11 inch mark, with two right at 11.25 for the biggest. I am tickled with 8-9 inch fish, as these are still 'quality' fish in my opinion. In 2015 we C&Red 174 over 10 inches and I am somewhere around 100 of that size for 2016. Amazingly, most of the 10 inch + gills came from public waters, while all the 11 inch fish were from private lakes.
Jeffrey's Albermarle rivers are indeed exceptional as well, with many fish over the 10 inch standard. I fished there with him back in Oct of 2013 and got enough of a taste of this vast system to believe it to be the premier public bluegill fishery in the nation with both sheer numbers of 10-inch fish and the potential for 11 to 12 inch trophy coppernose bluegills as well. Other waters can claim larger top-end specimens, but if I were to fashion a road trip specifically for world class, big bluegill adventures, I would choose this fascinating, blackwater swamp-like environment for high numbers of high-end bluegills. So much water and almost unbelievable numbers of big fish...check his photos!
My other choice would be the waters of Minnesota and North Dakota where Garett Svir and Clayton Davis routinely catch 10-inch fish and even some to the 12 inch mark that possess the body dynamics seldom seen anywhere these fish swim, with great girth and bulk...incredible fish! Those deeper, clear lakes of the desert southwest, to include Perris and Skinner coppernose, Lake Havasu red ears and gillcracker hybrids, would also rank high on the list for 'bucket list' destinations.
But there is nothing wrong at all with 8-9 inch fish. If they are the top-end gills in your lake, then those are the fish that the majority of need to be released routinely. Don't feel bad about keeping a hard-earned 'fish of a life time' if you are so blessed to capture one. If it is a trophy to you, then it is indeed a trophy! Then you need to hook up with either Tim Overbaugh or Jimmy Lawrence for a world-class replica! Good Luck to all of you!