Summertime Boss Bluegills

June 5, 2018

Ask most folks what’s the first fish you have ever caught? The bluegill will most likely be the answer. Many anglers first love affair and introduction to the sport of fishing were through fishing for panfish. The gill is native to North America and lives in streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds. It is commonly found east of the Rockies. If I had to choose one of my favorite fish to eat you would hear me mention species like a perch and walleye, but at the top of the list I would have to say the bluegill. Those tasty fish belong in a cornmeal jacket in my opinion, but I also practice conservation. When targeting large summer or fall schools of fish, always keep conservation in mind. When catching large gills, keep in mind that the size of the female plays a large role in how many eggs she will produce. A smaller female could produce as few as 1,000 eggs and a large, healthy female can produce up to 100,000 eggs. Release the larger females to keep the fishery intact for future generations and feel free to keep the smaller ones for a delicious fish fry.

Locating Fish

The savvy anglers who are in search of trophy gills sometimes have fits on trying to locate them within any given body of water during the hot summer months. Big gills move deeper this time of year and suspend in open water just below the surface to feed on plankton and other aquatic creatures. During the day they tend to lounge on the bottom. Bluegill try to spend most of their time in water ranging from 60 to 80 fahrenheit. Contrary to belief, bluegills enjoy the heat but shy away from direct sunlight. They typically love deeper water but will linger near the surface in the morning to stay warm after a cold night. Early and late in the day, the school may move up to 8 to 10 feet deep, but as the day goes on they move deeper.

A school size of 10 to 20 fish or more are pretty typical and will use all of the water column and structure to their advantage. Aquatic insects mostly live in vegetation, and coontail and milfoil weeds are my favorite weeds to target for big gills. They can hide and hunt for food at the same time. I look for differences in cover like thinner patches, or points. Find deep water weed edges and you should connect with the biggest gills the lake has to offer. When the sun gets high and the temps go up look for fish in deeper water. When fish are on beds early in the season it’s easy to locate and catch them. You just cruise the shallows with some polarized glasses and look for beds and fish. Not so easy when the fish choose to go deep, right? Finding them can be easier than you think, and the right equipment can make all the difference in the world. A good depth finder, whether it's a fixed or portable model, is indispensable in helping you find these fish. First, look for the right depth and structure. Deep water humps, sunken islands, and deep weed edges are usually productive. Use of your spot lock trolling motor, anchor or even a simple marker buoy can help you stay on fish once located. Once fish have been found, the action can be fast and furious.

Rigging

Most have heard about drop shotting for bass; how about drop shotting for bluegills? This technique can be deadly on deep open water gills. It’s so easy to do and so effective for deep water panfish. I find it tough to try anything else. First, you must start with the right panfish rod when fishing deep water, especially when fishing around 20-30 foot depths. The right rod will help you land more fish. A longer fast action rod is my favorite because the extra length helps to pick up slack line when a strike is detected. The rod is limber enough to handle light leaders and still have the power to get those big gills out of weeds. My favorite rod length would be in a 7-foot range. Once I have my rod picked out I use braid for my main line. I love to use braid in a 4-8 lb. diameter and tie on a 3 -7-foot piece of fluorocarbon or monofilament leader.

When fishing deep water, the braided line helps in getting a great hook set. Braid has less stretch than mono. My leaders are typically anything from 4-6 lb. mono or fluorocarbon for cagey bluegills. If I’m fishing in heavy weeds or structure I will bump up to an 8 lb. leader. For the most part, the lighter the leader line, the more bites you get in my opinion. Tie a Palomar knot to a small hook in a size 6-10 long Aberdeen hook and leave the tag end at least a foot long. It’s important that the hook is facing up after tying your knot. Sometimes I will vary how long I make the tag end so it will vary how far my bait is from the bottom. I will fish it sometimes just 3 inches off the bottom. The goal here is to get the bait in their face by keeping it at eye level with the fish and you will connect.

Pass the tag end through the hook eye to make the hook stand out horizontally and affix a small snap swivel. I like to use a snap swivel and then attach my weight. This is so I can change out the weights easily based on conditions. This rig is great for pitching under docks too. By having the weight below the hook, it enables anglers to suspend a bait off the bottom perfectly. It also works great when presenting bait over a weed edge, or other types of structure. Sometimes I will add a dropper line when drop shotting. By presenting the bait with this stealthy presentation, it minimizes those big bluegill wariness. It's accomplished when the fish grabs the bait but doesn’t feel the weight. By the time they do, it’s too late because you have already set the hook.

By using a large weight, you can get the bait down very easy. Especially when the action is hot and heavy, trying to get a soft plastic bait down on a light wire hook 20 feet down could take forever. This rig is deadly with its ability to get in the action fast and accurately. Drop shotting will deliver a bait to eye level without compromising the lure or action. The rig can also be pitched up under boat docks or cast near structure and slowly retrieved back to the boat. I even use the rig as a search tool by drifting when trying to find fish schools. It’s a very versatile rig that can cover a lot of water and help you find fish.

Paul McCue FishUSA Ambassador Cold Water Bass Baits

Baits

Some of my favorite baits to use would be worms, crickets, grasshoppers, wax worms, small flies, and even American cheese pushed on to a hook. Good colors for gills are orange, yellow, red, but my favorite color is green. Their natural diet consists largely of small invertebrates and aquatic insects. Another favorite with drop shotting is the use of soft plastics. I love tiny plastics as it gives the panfish less time to scrutinize and less to be wary about. The small plastics in the half-inch range creates a reduction in weight. This allows the gills time to inhale baits easier. The last thing you want is for them to fail to suck the bait in, and they turn and swim away. Big cagey gills will sometimes just sit there and suck on a bait.

I also love the Berkley Gulp products for panfish. I’m no scientist and can’t tell you what’s in the stuff, but the fish love it that’s for sure. If I had to choose my top baits for large bluegills, I would go with a cricket, leaf worms or pieces of crawlers. Your Bait choices or rigging need not be complicated. It’s all about getting the bait in front of fish. If you do that, you’re cooler won’t be empty. I must say when it comes to big bull bluegills in deep open water, the fight is great. Those fish turn sideways and look like a big pie plate coming up to the boat. On light line and tackle those fish pull so hard. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to introduce someone to fishing. So, get out this summer and enjoy the thrill of a Big Boss Bluegill. You’ll be glad you did.

Berkley Gulp! Alive! Angle Worms
Berkley Gulp! Alive! Angle Worms
3 Colors available
(4)
Berkley Gulp! Alive! Angle Worms provide the look and feel of real worms without the hassle of live bait. These worms come floating in the exclusive "Magic Gravy," enabling you to recharge your baits by putting them right back in the jar. The Gulp! Alive! baits have a 34% better swimming action than original Gulp! worms. You can rig these worms in your favorite presentation and they are sure to be gobbled up by panfish. Berkley Gulp! Alive! Angle Worms are made in the U.S.A.
$5.95
Berkley Gulp! Alive! Crickets
Berkley Gulp! Alive! Crickets
2 Colors available
(15)
Berkley Gulp! Alive! Crickets are highly effective baits for any fish that eats insects. Bluegill, perch, crappie, trout, and small bass will all love this bait! They feature unbelievable lifelike detail that imitates natural prey. These Crickets are more durable and easier to manage than live baits. Your new favorite baits come floating in Berkley's exclusive "Magic Gravy." This enables you to recharge your baits by putting them back in the jar. These baits absorb more of the Gulp! scent and at...
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Berkley Gulp! Alive! Fat Floating Trout Worms
Berkley Gulp! Alive! Fat Floating T...
3 Colors available
(2)
Berkley Gulp! Alive Fat Floating Trout Worms are shorter, fatter, and can be wacky rigged or used on a traditional floating trout rig. This bait replicates the trout attracting features of small worms and other forage, with a little added bulk. These floating worms hover just above the stream or lake bottom in the feeding zone of trout. This bait will also work great when targeting panfish, small bass, and perch. Berkley Gulp! Alive is the next generation in Gulp! technology. Now your favorite b...
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Berkley Gulp! Alive! Fish Fry
Berkley Gulp! Alive! Fish Fry
4 Colors available
(12)
Berkley Gulp! Alive! Fish Fry features a lifelike profile with a tantalizing tail that produces non-stop action. These movements provoke aggressive strikes from bluegills, panfish, perch, and trout. Soft, supple, and infused with Berkley's exclusive "Magic Gravy," these realistic little baits are more durable and effective than the competition. The Magic Gravy increases your strike zone up to 400 times more and also enables you to recharge your baits by simply placing them back into the jar. Ber...
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Berkley Gulp! Alive! Leech
Berkley Gulp! Alive! Leech
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Meet Berkley Gulp! Alive! Leeches, the next generation in Gulp! technology. Now your favorite baits come floating in Berkley's "Magic Gravy," which enables you to recharge your baits by putting them back in the jar. These leeches easily replace the real thing for increased durability and longer lasting results. They provide a natural presentation in action, scent, and taste. The new Gulp! Alive baits absorb 20% more Gulp! scent and attractant which makes them at least 20% more effective than the...
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Berkley Gulp! Alive! Maggots
Berkley Gulp! Alive! Maggots
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Berkley Gulp! Alive Maggots are proven to outfish live baits 2:1. These maggots feature an extreme scent dispersion to expand your strike zone. The maggots are packaged in Berkley's "Magic Gravy," which enables you to recharge your baits by putting them right back in the jar. These baits absorb 20% more scent and attractant which makes them at least 20% more effective than the 1st generation baits, and also have a 34% better swimming action than the original Gulp! Berkley Gulp! Alive! Maggots ar...
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Berkley Gulp! Alive! Minnows
Berkley Gulp! Alive! Minnows
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Berkley Gulp! Alive! Minnows provide more attractant and better action than other minnows on the market. They feature a realistic profile and split tail to entice and trigger strikes from panfish and trout. These minnows are packaged in Berkley's "Magic Gravy" that enables you to recharge your baits by putting them back into the jar. With a natural presentation in action, scent, and taste, the Gulp! Alive! Minnows easily replace the real thing for increased durability and longer lasting results....
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Berkley Gulp! Alive! Waxies
Berkley Gulp! Alive! Waxies
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Berkley Gulp! Alive! Waxies are a favorite that anglers love to use when targeting panfish. The Waxies work all year round and has been field tested to outlast and outfish live bait! It is built with a durable formula for fewer lost baits. These Waxies are packaged in the "Magic Gravy," so you are able to recharge your baits by putting them back in the jar. The new Gulp! Alive baits provide better swimming action than the original Gulp!, and absorbs more Gulp! scent and attractant, making them m...
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Berkley Gulp! Crappie Nibbles
Berkley Gulp! Crappie Nibbles
3 Colors available
(13)
Berkley Gulp! Crappie Nibbles are perfectly sized for crappie hooks and small lures. These unique baits dissolve slowly to create a scent cloud that drive crappies and panfish wild. Incredibly easy to use, they can be applied to jigs or bare hooks with no mess! Berkley Gulp! Crappie Nibbles are formulated with the world's most powerful scent and flavor ingredients ever produced. Through technology exclusive to Berkley, Gulp! releases scent 400X more than regular plastic baits. Crappie Nibbles ar...
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Berkley Gulp! Crickets
Berkley Gulp! Crickets
2 Colors available
Berkley Gulp! Crickets are designed with lifelike details to imitate natural prey. These baits utilize the Gulp! attractant for extreme scent dispersion. The natural, bio-degradable formula has 400 times more scent dispersion than ordinary plastic baits and outfishes live bait in field tests. Berkley Gulp! Crickets are more durable and easier to care for than live bait.
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Berkley Gulp! Earthworms
Berkley Gulp! Earthworms
2 Colors available
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Berkley Gulp! Earthworms are a skinny little bait with big fish potential. These worms are about four to five inches in length and are substantially thinner than the jarred Nightcrawlers. They smell, feel, and taste just like the real thing, that fish can't help but eat them! Lying on the bottom, drifted downstream, or finessed through cover, they present a tempting treat no passing trout, bass, or walleye can resist. Berkley Gulp! Earthworms are made in the U.S.A.
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Berkley Gulp! Fat Floating Trout Worms
Berkley Gulp! Fat Floating Trout Worms
4 Colors available
Berkley Gulp! Fat Floating Trout Worms are shorter, fatter trout worms that can be wacky rigged or used on a traditional floating trout rig. These baits replicate the trout attracting features of small worms and other forage, with a little added bulk. The floating worms hover just above the stream or lake bottom, right in the feeding zone of trout. They will also work great when targeting panfish, small bass, and perch. Through Berkley’s exclusive technology, Gulp! releases scent 400X more than ...
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Berkley Gulp! Floating Nightcrawler
Berkley Gulp! Floating Nightcrawler
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Berkley Gulp! Floating Nightcrawler has a high buoyancy that keeps the bait in the strike zone. Due to its lifelike appearance and natural formulation, these nightcrawlers catch more than the real thing! Through Berkley's exclusive technology, Gulp! releases scent 400X more than regular plastic baits, expanding its strike zone to catch even more fish.
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Berkley Gulp! Floating Pinched Crawlers
Berkley Gulp! Floating Pinched Craw...
Berkley Gulp! Floating Pinched Crawlers mimic a piece of nightcrawler which are deadly when targeting trout and panfish. The nightcrawler color is great for a natural presentation, while the other colors are hi-vis and perfect for high or stained waters.
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Berkley Gulp! Floating Trout Worms
Berkley Gulp! Floating Trout Worms
3 Colors available
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Berkley Gulp! Floating Trout Worms replicate the trout attracting features of small worms and other forage. These floating worms hover just above the stream bottom in the feeding lane of trout. The Berkley Gulp! Floating Trout Worms look similar to the Powerbait 3 in. Trout Worm with its molded design, but features the fish catching Gulp! technology. These baits will work great when targeting panfish, small bass, and perch.
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Berkley Gulp! Maggots
Berkley Gulp! Maggots
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Berkley Gulp! Maggots are great alone on a hook for panfish, or tipped on a jig for larger fish. They are far more convenient and durable than real maggots. Through technology exclusive to Berkley, Gulp! scent is released 400X more than regular plastic baits. Gulp! is 100 percent biodegradable, the first bait of its kind. Gulp! Maggots are one inch in length and come in a 0.90 oz. jar. Berkley Gulp! Maggots are made in the U.S.A.
$3.99
Berkley Gulp! Minnow Grubs
Berkley Gulp! Minnow Grubs
4 Colors available
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Berkley Gulp! Minnow Grubs are flickering, fluttering, frenzy inducing morsels that tantalize any fish. These Gulp! Minnow Grubs are tasty treats on jigs, drop shots, and live bait rigs. Through technology exclusive to Berkley, Gulp! releases scent 400X more than regular plastic baits. Berkley Gulp! is 100 percent biodegradable, the first bait of its kind.
$5.49
Berkley Gulp! Minnows
Berkley Gulp! Minnows
9 Colors available
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Berkley Gulp! Minnows are the perfect replacement for the real thing! They feature a realistic profile, with a thicker body and split tail. These minnows are deadly when used with a jig trailer or as a trolling bait. They are constructed with a water-based formula to provide a more lifelike taste and texture. These minnows are more durable and last longer than live minnows. Thanks to Berkley's exclusive technology, Gulp! baits release scent 400X more than regular plastic baits. Berkley Gulp! Min...
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Berkley Gulp! Minnows - 2.5 in.
Berkley Gulp! Minnows - 2.5 in.
6 Colors available
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Berkley Gulp! Minnows are the perfect jig trailer or trolling bait. It has a very lifelike appearance and is more durable and lasts longer than a live minnow. Through technology exclusive to Berkley, Gulp! baits release scent 400X more than regular plastic baits. Berkley Gulp! is 100 percent biodegradable, the first bait of its kind. Berkley Gulp! Minnows are made in the U.S.A.
$3.99 - $5.79
Berkley Gulp! Nightcrawlers
Berkley Gulp! Nightcrawlers
6 Colors available
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Berkley Gulp! Nightcrawlers can be hooked on spinners, harnesses, Lindy rigs, light jigs, or weedless hooks. It looks like the real thing, and smells even better; plus it is more durable and lasts longer than live crawlers. These are the Gulp! nightcrawlers which are molded and come in the resealable package.
$5.49
Berkley Gulp! Nightcrawlers (Jarred)
Berkley Gulp! Nightcrawlers (Jarred)
2 Colors available
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Berkley Gulp! Nightcrawlers (Jarred) are fat, juicy, and packed with the effective Gulp! scent and flavor. These crawlers feature a lifelike taste and texture. They work especially well on light live bait rigs and last longer than live bait. Through technology exclusive to Berkley, Gulp! releases scent 400X more than regular plastic baits, increasing your strike zone. Berkley Gulp! Nightcrawlers are made in the U.S.A.
$5.49
Berkley Gulp! Pinched Crawlers
Berkley Gulp! Pinched Crawlers
2 Colors available
Berkley Gulp! Pinched Crawlers are some of the most realistic looking shapes ever produced that can be rigged under a bobber, on a spinner rig, or on a splitshot rig. These baits are great for panfish and walleye. The nightcrawler color is great for a natural presentation, while the other colors are hi-vis and perfect for high or stained waters. Berkley Gulp! Pinched Crawlers are two inches in length. Each package contains six baits.
$3.95 - $3.99
Berkley Gulp! Saltwater Grub
Berkley Gulp! Saltwater Grub
6 Colors available
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The Berkley Gulp! Saltwater Grub imitates an array of saltwater baits with its proven swirltail design that swims under any condition. This bait is irresistible to large saltwater predators. This grub is ideal on jigs and provides 400X more scent dispersion to expand your strike zone. Use this grub when you are in search of larger saltwater species and prepare for plenty of heart stopping action. The Berkley Gulp! Saltwater Grub is made in the U.S.A.
$5.99
Berkley Gulp! Waxies
Berkley Gulp! Waxies
5 Colors available
Berkley Gulp! Waxies are effective all year round if you are targeting panfish. It features a natural formula that has been field tested to outlast and outfish live bait! These durable little baits are a favorite among anglers because they have fewer lost baits. Packaged in the special Gulp! scent, it has 400 times more scent dispersion to expand your strike zone, enabling you to catch more fish!
$3.99
Eagle Claw 214A Aberdeen Fish Hooks
Eagle Claw 214A Aberdeen Fish Hooks
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Eagle Claw 214A Aberdeen Fish Hooks are light-wire aberdeen hooks. These 214A Aberdeen Hooks feature non-offset bend, ringed eye, and a bronze finish.
$1.49 - $1.79
Eagle Claw Pro-V Bend Aberdeen Snelled Hooks
Eagle Claw Pro-V Bend Aberdeen Snel...
Eagle Claw Pro-V Bend Aberdeen Snelled Hooks offer superior quality with American-made hooks! These hooks are perfect for a variety of rigging styles, and feature a securely tied loop at the end so you can easily attach a swivel and connect your rig of choice.
$1.49
Mustad 32756 / 32755 Classic 90-Degree Aberdeen Jig Hooks
Mustad 32756 / 32755 Classic 90-Deg...
Mustad 32756 / 32755 Classic 90-Degree Aberdeen Jig Hooks are strong and sturdy short shank hooks. Featuring an incredibly sharp point and unique 90° bend, these high quality hooks will help you land a variety of species.
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Tru-Turn 388G Aberdeen 22K Gold Plated Snelled Hooks
Tru-Turn 388G Aberdeen 22K Gold Pla...
Tru-Turn 388G Aberdeen 22K Gold Plated Snelled Hooks feature an offset cam-action bend that forces the point to turn as it enters to improve hooksets. These hooks are pre-tied on 7" monofilament line and finished in 22K gold plating. Tru-Turn Aberdeen Snelled Hooks are great to a wide variety of fish species and fishing applications. Features of Tru-Turn 388G Aberdeen 22K Gold Plated Snelled Hooks include a Ringed, down eye, Spear point, and medium wire construction. Each package contains 6 sne...
$2.29
Tru-Turn 853ZS Aberdeen Hooks
Tru-Turn 853ZS Aberdeen Hooks
(1)
The Tru-Turn 853ZS Aberdeen Hooks features a cam-action hook design that rotates as the fish takes the bite and keeps them hooked. These hooks are made of fine wire with a blood red finish, making them perfect for panfish and walleye.
$2.49 - $6.29
Tru-Turn 863G Aberdeen Fine Wire Snelled Hooks
Tru-Turn 863G Aberdeen Fine Wire Sn...
Tru-Turn 863G Aberdeen Fine Wire Snelled Hooks are constructed of fine wire for lighter applications and feature a cam-action bend for optimum hooksetting. This offset shank design rotates the hook in the mouth of the fish to improve penetration. Each hook is pre-tied on premium monofilament line. These Aberdeen Snelled Hooks feature a blood red finish to trigger the natural feeding response in fish. Tru-Turn 863G Aberdeen Fine Wire Snelled Hooks include a ringed eye and spear point. Tru-Turn 86...
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Tru-Turn 868G X-Long Shank Aberdeen Snelled Hooks
Tru-Turn 868G X-Long Shank Aberdeen...
(2)
Tru-Turn 868G X-Long Shank Aberdeen Snelled Hooks feature Tru-Turn's cam-action offset bend designed to turn as it enters the fish's mouth for better penetration. These blood red finished hooks are pre-tied on premium monofilament line for quick and easy use. Tru-Turn 868G X-Long Shank Aberdeen Snelled Hooks include a ringed eye and ultra-sharp spear point. Tru-Turn Aberdeen Snelled Hooks come 5 hooks per package.
$2.29
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