Do you love big bluegill?
First a little history and then I'll tell you what worked so well for us. I've been looking for a trophy redear fishery to take my family to for quite some time and Barkley Lake's fairly close to where we live at 190 miles. I booked the trip way back in January and have been chomping at the bit to get down there. As the day approached for us to leave, I was wondering if the high water they were having would ruin our trip, not to mention weather being on the cool side. I knew monster redear were in this lake though, if you scan the internet tons of pictures pop up showing off trophy fish.
We got there last Sunday and it was rainy and cool, Monday was a wash out as well. Started fishing Tuesday morning and quickly realized I was going to have to cross the lake in my smallish deep vhull with only a 20HP motor, a little scary considering the bass fisherman down there will flat out run your butt over...I didn't like the banks in our little cove, they were sort of steep and weren't what I was looking for when it comes to prime shellcracker fishing. We quickly found ourselves in a cove on the Northern end of the lake that looked pretty good. I went about 75% to the back of this cove and saw some areas that looked really good, flat banks, shallow water and muddy bottom. We anchored here and about fifteen minutes later I reel in a HOG, I about fell out of the boat at the sheer size of this thing. It was thirteen inches and at least two inches thick across it's gut, a big dark male that weighed about a pound and three quarter. I caught another one about five minutes later that was the same size and it's just jaw dropping because I simply don't see fish this size on my home waters.
Long story short, we found them on Tuesday and went back to that same spot over and over for the next four days of our trip. The water was way up and this appeared to be the original shoreline they were probably using as a nesting ground. I never did see the nests themselves though. The bait of choice was redworms on the bottom and they would strike on many occasions the moment you went to reel in the bait. I call this a reactionary strike, they see the bait move and nail it.
I had four lb mono and five lb braid on all of my setups and the braid holds these fish much better than the mono. They simply abused the mono while the braid never slipped on any hooks or snapped. They would instinctively dive into the reeds that were present on the bottom of the lake and braid pulled them out, not mono. I lost some really big fish from this, so I'll be going to braid from now on. These are trophy fish for sure, I should've mounted two of them but put the knife to them. I may go back down for two nights in a couple of weeks when the full moon is on. We did catch nice bluegill as well but culled through them because they simply don't stack up to a two pound redear. Numbers weren't huge but I'm a quality guy anyway so catching 30 hogs a day tickles me versus catching 75 fish that are not nearly as big. It was a blast and my wife and four year old caught fish of a lifetime for most people. We'll be back!