Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

New year and trying to step up my game a little in the fishing department. I have been fishing for about 50 years and caught all sorts of fish, but panfish have always been one of my favorite. I think a lot of it is that I enjoy actively catching fish more than I do stalking elusive ones. Bream have a reputation of being easy to catch and that is often the case, but not always. It certainly isn't true with the larger trophy sized panfish.

I am setting a goal of getting a NC "Master Angler" patch this year. In order to do that, I have to catch six fish that are large enough to ear certificates from the NC WRC:

N.C. Angler Recognition Program

It actually isn't clear whether it has to be six different species (I don't think it does) but I am going to try to earn it that way. There are about a dozen fish I consider panfish on the list (if you include white perch, white bass and yellow perch).

So, how am I going to do it?

There is a discussion on this site:

Twenty words or less for folks wanting more successful bluegill fis...

to which I replied "There are no fish in the tackle box. Don't over complicate. Don't over simplify. Small marabou jigs nearly always work."

The first statement is a quote from a great uncle. It's what he would say when I was rummaging around in the tackle box. Most of the time on the water should be spent fishing not digging through the tackle box. it doesn't mean I shouldn't ever change what I am doing. I should have some thought out options if what I am doing isn't working.

Don't over complicate. This is about not having too many things that I want to try on a single trip or trying to do things that are just too intricate to easily do with success on the water. Taking it further it's about trying to track too many variables to figure out what's working and what's not. It could make fishing too much like work!

Don't over simplify. This is about not leaning too heavily on one technique, bait and/or location. It's about making sure I do have options. It's also about paying attention to conditions and tracking at least some meaningful correlations for future reference. Just because it is working great now doesn't mean I should always try it first and just because it isn't working doesn't mean I should banish it from my box.

So what's the sweet spot? That's the tough question. I want to be broad of vision but narrow of purpose. Have some options but don't overwhelm myself. Is there a magic number? Probably not, but I am deciding that there is a number I am going to work with; four.

Why four? Because 2 + 2 = 4. I am going to have no more than two primary options and two fallbacks that I pretty much always carry. Sometimes my fallbacks may be primary options and I may go with less than four. But I am going to try very hard to stick to a four option limit per outing/day.

On to my last point. Small marabou jigs nearly always work. So that's one of my fallbacks and will often be one of my primaries. In fact, I really have three fallbacks - plastics, small lipless cranks and hair jigs. Almost invariably, at least one of those will be a primary. 

What - no spinners? Not unless I pick it as a primary. I have picked out tackle for my outing in a couple of days and there are no spinners packed except for a beetle spin that is part of the plastic fallback.

No bait? Again, not unless I pick it as a primary though I do have some small pieces of Gulp worm for tipping jigs.

More posts coming; setting my groundwork. This one is philosophy. I will do one each on a few common places I fish to refer to them in later posts about actually fishing. I will do one on what I will commonly fish from and with also.

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Comment by carl hendrix on January 16, 2015 at 12:38pm

just  hope you make your quest this year Andy!!  looking forward to seeing your pix this year!!

Comment by Andy is OptiMystic on January 16, 2015 at 12:28pm

Carl - If you read the next entry you will find out that even though it's a panfish quest, the second rod will often be set up for larger prey. If it sounds like a bomber is dropping bowling balls all around me, I will put the little jig away and throw a rattle trap.

Comment by Slip Sinker on January 16, 2015 at 11:58am

Great write up Andy! Good Luck on this endeavor ill be following this. i started doing something like this two years ago for trophy gill then this year i expanded to the four panfish cycle... i wish michigan would start some thing official such as this
good luck and i will be following this

Comment by carl hendrix on January 16, 2015 at 11:56am

good thoughts Andy!  on my boat- I carry 3 rods rigged ; for stripe; and bass; should I need them.  4 fly rods rigged with diferent types baits. ( so far my rascals proved to be good in my area as well as Allen Morgans jigs; And Dick Tabberetts jelly jigs;; and last but certainly not least;; Mark Stiens popping bugs with a dropper)  then;; I also have a few U l rods in my rod box-- just in case!!  the fly rods I most always use all the time for blue gills;; U L rods to;; but love the fly rod!  in all;; I generally carry 8 rods;; ready for action!!  color; size; type  I use  depends on what those blue gill want!!  I can change  rods ;; faster than changing baits;; so I make sure I have plenty of different ones tied on!!  and I tip my baits ;; usually with a small piece of nite crawler;; found it makes a big difference!!

Comment by Tony Livingston on January 16, 2015 at 11:46am

Nice work Andy, and good luck!

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