How to win boat-side brawls

Catching fish when they swim near the fishing boat can be difficult. Fishermen have to contend with the position of the boat and the fish. The process of hooking bass, walleye, muskie and various billfish is described.
Just 15 feet from our boat, the bass exploded on my surface plug, showering the emergent trees in three directions. I reared back on my stout seven-foot rod to set the hooks as the giant swirled on top in the five-foot-deep water. The big fish felt the sting of metal, dove toward the bottom, and then headed skyward.

This huge bass wasn’t a largemouth, but a 16-pound peacock bass that wanted to tear up anything in its way. My guide, Juan, gasped, “Grande pavon,” at the sight of the peacock’s broad triple-striped side and opened his eyes wide and dropped his jaw. I was too excited to blink. The bass swam toward the boat and under it as I reeled frantically to keep a tight line.


I thrust the rod toward the brushy bottom, praying that this giant wouldn’t become entangled or straighten the heavy-duty hooks that had been harnessed on the Jerkin’ Sam topwater plug expressly for my Venezuela trip. I was confident that the 30-pound-test line wouldn’t part unless it was grated against some of the flooded hardwoods that surrounded the boat.

The peacock exploded on the opposite side of the boat just a few feet off the gunnel as I worked the rod’s tip below the trolling motor and brought it up once again to fighting position. I put some more pressure on the brute, but it was heading pretty much where it wanted. The bass bulled past Juan’s outreached net and into another treetop at the bow of the boat. It then became tangled in the branches but shortly swam out–the same way it had swum in. The monster again rushed into a brush top off our stern, and this time steady pressure didn’t work the fish free.

We waited for two minutes for the bass to swim out of the cover. Finally, Juan decided that time was running out and stripped to his underwear. I was not surprised when he jumped overboard and was thankful for his willingness to go hand to hand with my trophy fish. I’m not sure if the guide was thinking about the plug’s two super-strong trebles that were hanging out of the jaw of the still-powerful peacock. He simply dove straight down for the fish.

My steady pressure on the bass all of a sudden made it move, and when the peacock came out of the treetop, I held my breath as it passed Juan without one of the hooks making contact. When the huge head of the bass erupted from the surface beside me, I jabbed my hand toward its jaws without a thought of the lure’s dangerous adornments. I put a lip lock on the fish and hauled it over the side. Juan’s head bobbed to the surface in time to see my capture, and his grin confirmed his satisfaction with the events despite his bath.

This boat-side battle took place in the flooded jungles of Venezuela’s Lake Guri, the second-largest impoundment in the world. We were in the wooded “Monkey Cove” arm off the main lake, a short distance from the beautiful Guri Lodge and hydroelectric dam facility.

In my three trips to the jungles of Venezuela and my more limited exposure to the hard-fighting peacocks in southern Florida canals, I’ve come to the conclusion that giant peacock bass are not very smart. They are just mean and powerful. A largemouth has a purpose in heading into heavy cover when hooked, and that is to break the line in the entanglement. A giant peacock will head into brush or a treetop for the simple reason that it’s there. The peacock doesn’t have a particular strategy in mind, such as tying a knot around a limb. It is big enough to do what it wants and go where it wants to. The peacock is like the proverbial bull in a china shop. It doesn’t pay attention to the small stuff.

On many occasions I’ve had nine to 12-pound peacock bass go into submerged trees, and with steady pressure I have been able to lead the big fish back out (actually they’ve swum out the way they’ve gone in, more on their own accord). Seldom have I been able to do this with a giant largemouth bass that is seemingly buried in an entanglement. Largemouths generally know not to come back out the way they go in.

Another trait of the peacock is that it just won’t give up until it is exhausted. Peacocks have a much stronger burst of energy than largemouths or smallmouths, yet once that energy is depleted, the fish are overstressed and may die soon if not cared for properly. Members of the black-bass family are simply hardier than the peacock. Also, once you get a lip lock on a largemouth or smallmouth, the fish will be relatively docile because it is partially paralyzed by the hold. That’s not so with a peacock–a lip lock is simply a way to grab this bass. When you grab a peacock in this manner, the fish probably thinks that it has a good bite on your hand.

Lots of other gamefish are difficult to handle at boat-side or once netted. I was fishing for walleyes and smallmouth bass recently at one of Canada’s best fisheries, Little Sand Lake at Minaki, Ontario. With me were walleye experts Mike Fine of Berkley Inc., Lanny Orvalla of Lund Boats and the father and son Amenrud team who we dubbed “Mini” and “Maxi.” Randy Amenrud is one of the country’s top professional walleye tournament fishermen from Minnesota, and his 26-year-old son, Todd, is an accomplished angler in his own right.

On this trip, one boat-side battle that we lost with a big walleye was very unfortunate. The seven-pounder also lost, but not before doing significant damage to its captor. Todd, fishing in a separate boat, had landed the big walleye on a trolled crankbait. The fish had made its initial power runs, but then had swum into Mike’s waiting net. The two anglers immediately motored over to Randy, Lanny and me for a photo opportunity.

As I readied my camera for a few shots of the angler with his fish held high, the walleye flipped–and you can guess what happened. The fish still had enough energy to bury one of the treble hooks into Todd’s finger. Mike and Lanny quickly removed the wiggling fish from the plug above Todd’s “sounds of obvious discomfort.”

Big walleyes are different from smaller walleyes, which give up quickly and are easy to handle. The big walleye will make several short power runs, but it doesn’t have the stamina of many other gamefish. Still, a monster marble-eye can be tough to handle for a while.

A walleye alongside the boat is not going to try to get around the motor, but it may try to dive straight down and go under the boat. Randy advises keeping pressure on the walleye by keeping the rod tip up. When the fish makes a move, the angler can react by dropping the rod tip and minimizing the pressure on the walleye.

“I’m not going to reel any fish too close to the rod tip, because then I’ll still be able to react with their moves,” he said. “You would normally net a big walleye, although on occasion, I have grabbed one. One thing you don’t do is lip a walleye. I saw a guy from down South once lip a walleye, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. Their gills are sharp, as are their teeth.”

Smallmouth and largemouth bass are similar in their antics around the boat. Both jump and cavort until landed. If using light line, it is wise to handle a large smallmouth easily when it nears the boat. Smallies may make spectacular jumps and head for a motor, so anglers should be prepared to steer the fish around potential trouble spots.

A smallmouth at boat-side will be fighting with gusto. Accuracy comes into play here. You have to be more precise to lip them because they have smaller mouths than their big-mouthed cousins. Both of these species of black bass will be intent on finding entanglements near the boat; and they’ll know what to do when they see one.

A muskie, on the other hand, has the philosophy of the peacock bass–charge in any direction and overpower the angler. Though a muskie will go where it wants to go, often it will head for deeper water. When a muskie is coming toward the boat, an angler should treat it with respect. You don’t want a “hot” muskie in the net, let alone in the boat. Randy Amenrud has had such a fish in his boat, and he is quick to explain that tackle boxes are toppled and the boat contents are often in a mess when the fracas is over.

“You really have to be careful when handling a big muskie because of its teeth, gills and gill plates,” Randy said. “When you hook a muskie near the boat, you can often just keep pressure on it and swim it to the gunnel. You might think then that you’re ready to put the muskie into the boat, but don’t be mislead. Because all of a sudden it will wake up and go crazy, jumping and thrashing.

“If you aren’t going to keep that fish, then you definitely don’t want it in the boat with you. If you’re going to release it, you don’t want the fish banging around in the net, either. We release most of our muskies to catch again.”

All muskies are different. Sometimes they’ll be on the surface jumping; other times, they’ll be pulling down deep. Some big fish stay down for the entire fight, whereas others will take to the air as soon as you hit them with a deep-running crankbait. At boat-side, muskies may jump, go around a motor or go deep. At times a muskie will run at the boat so fast that the angler can’t reel in the slack quickly enough, and before he knows it the fish will be under the boat and jumping on the other side. The angler has to have split-second reactions.

“That’s one of the things about muskies,” said Randy. “They put up a quick, furious fight, but it doesn’t last very long. They don’t have the stamina of a smallmouth bass. Basically, you hook one, get it beside the boat while it’s still hot and play it for a while until it wears itself out.

“You’ll hear stories about someone fighting a muskie for 45 minutes, and that’s possible,” he admitted, “but I’ve never had a fight with one last more than 15 minutes. And that’s a long time with a fish at the end of the line. If a guy keeps fighting a muskie for a half-hour, then he’s not putting the pressure on it.”

An angler backtrolling has to be concerned with a big muskie, smallmouth, northern or walleye as it nears the boat. You don’t just concentrate on playing the fish and let the boat drift. You need to keep the boat positioned so that the fish stays on the side of the boat where you’re fighting it. Proper operation is to keep the boat mostly in neutral, but kick it in and out of gear. Boat positioning to keep it in the fighting position is critical in order to land a fish easily.

While forward trolling, the wise angler should keep the boat moving forward until the fish is alongside the boat. This is usually the place where the fish gets hot. One of Randy Amenrud’s means to bring a fish to boat quicker is to put the motor in reverse occasionally.

“When fishing a crankbait, though, you don’t want to put the boat in neutral or reverse because you don’t want slack line with any fish,” he said. “In this situation, I’ll keep the boat going. If I’m going with the wind, I’ll pop the boat into neutral occasionally, as long as I’m still moving away from the fish. If I did this with a muskie, I’d have to have very heavy tackle, but with a walleye, we baby the fish until it gets hot. Then we start playing it.”

Whether the battle is between you and a muskie, a peacock bass or a largemouth, you don’t want to play the fish long underneath the boat or near either the outboard or the electric motor. If the fish makes a run, the best move is to point the rod into the water beside the boat and swing it around the bow or stern.

When a fish is active at boat-side, there are few fishing thrills more memorable. Different species behave differently, and larger fish all put up good fights. The battle grounds of excitement for most of us are right at the gunnel. This is where the smart angler will usually win!

Best Wader for Hunting And Fishing

Best wader is very useful and effective equipment for fishing and hunting. It keeps you dry, safe and comfortable while fishing. To get more information about best breathble waders , neoprene chest waders… You cant find here!

If you want to go for fishing in a cold region, your wader will give you proper insulation to keep you warm and comfortable. If you want to go for hunting, surely the surrounding atmosphere will not be very good for you. You may walk through the deep forest with moist air to breath and pointy grasses which will try to pierce your skin. In such moment, a wader will provide you sufficient protection from the hostile nature.


Today I will describe Top 3 waders which will be suitable for fishing and hunting simultaneously. The fact I will consider is price, quality, breathability, insulation and protection. You should decide which fact you care most and go for that wader. So, let’s have a look at the top 3 waders for fishing and hunting.


I am well aware that price is major fact for waders. You do not want to put a lot of cash for this. So, I took a middle price level wader as the first choice. It is called LL BEAN KENNEBEC STOCKING FOOT WADER.

The great advantage of this wader is it comes with an awesome finishing line with some marvelous feature but it will not cost you that much. This company is famous for their customer’s positive feedback and they keep their promises with every wonderful product they create. The basic problem of waders is, they are not breathable which makes the owner sweaty, uncomfortable and itchy. Fortunately, this wader has four layers which will provide you the maximum breathability. That means no sweating while fishing, hunting or pursuing a deer. The neoprene shoulder straps will make you a little bit more comfortable than the other strapless waders. It will also give support to your extra carriage. The seams are adhesive, so it will eradicate all itchy feelings. There are two chest pockets in the wader with zipper. There is a waterproof interior pocket which will provide your gadgets more safety while fishing in a west height stream. The gravel guard is also available for your better safety. Considering all the points, LL BEAN KENNEBEC STOCKING FOOT WADER is one of the best choices for fishing and hunting.

2. Lacrosse Aero Tuff Wader:

Our second pick is also a great product for fishing and hunting. It is called Lacrosse Aero Tuff which is very famous for its superb quality and comfort. It’s a boot stock wader, so it comes with additional boot and boot socks.

The upper body of the wader is made of 5mm neoprene material. As most of the pressure goes on the feet, the 7mm neoprene boot socks will provide you great support. The joints and seams are properly sealed, so there is no option for leakage. As an extra protection to your knees and shins, it has rubberized strips on those areas. There are three pockets which will provide you sufficient storage space. You will also find two D-rings where you can hand your necessary equipments. The quality of the boot is also pretty good. It will keep your feet warm and dry. There is an extra layer of neoprene in the boot which will provide you more support while walking or running. If you want to go for a fishing or hunting in the late-season, I will prefer this wader will make it a great experience.

3. Toggs Amphib Wader:

Our third and final pick is Toggs Amphib Wader which comes with boot food. Like the second one, you do not need to buy addition boots as the wader is already comes with a pair.

The wader has a great specification. It is built of 3.5mm neoprene and Thinsulate (200gm). This combination of material is capable of providing a full warm atmosphere for you. The boot has a great sole which will provide you a great amount of friction in every surface. You will feel well balanced and controlled with these booths no matter you are standing in a muddy ground or pursuing in a hard surface. The hand warmers will provide you great support in the cold weathers. There is sufficient storage in the chest pocket to keep your carriage. The knee pads are available for the extra protection of your knees in case you fall down. The ultra finishing inner seams will keep you comfy and warm. The price of this wader is also middle level so you can easily afford it. My personal opinion is to wear it when you are going to a cold area for fishing and hunting.
These are the best waders for fishing and hunting. Consider your fishing and hunting area, consider the atmosphere you are going to face and match your budget with it.

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‘Eyes on flies

Walleye fish are most often caught with artificial flies that resemble mayfly nymph, stonefly nymph or caddis fly pupae patterns. Techniques to attract the fish to the flies are discussed.
For years, walleyes have been regarded as structure-oriented and bottom-dwelling fish. But biologists and anglers are learning that these popular gamefish will suspend at midlevel depths or seek forage in shallow water. What’s the best way to catch these’eye? With a fly!

To one walleye angler, “perfection” might be a trophy take, mounted for the den wall. To another it’s sore arms from a full day of battling fish that weighed no less than two pounds. For others, perfection means a second helping of tasty walleye fillets fried golden brown over an open campfire.


One day last June I experienced two of those three perfect pleasures while fishing Holinshead Lake, about an hour’s drive north of Thunder Bay, Ontario. As a glorious sunset ignited western clouds, I released yet another walleye, and marveled aloud as to how only an eight or 10-pounder could improve upon this day. Just then, a loon called as the last breath of wind died away. That’s when the caddis fly hatch began.

Jim Corbett, my Ojibway guide and the owner of Holinshead Lake Resort, noticed the first emerger. We watched as the insect wriggled free of its casing, then launched aloft like a miniature helicopter. Other dimples began to appear on the glass-smooth lake.

“Think they’ll take a fly?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Jim said. “Maybe a wet one. I haven’t caught a walleye on this spinner now for several minutes.”

My hands trembled as I rigged the little 7 1/2-foot fiberglass fly rod I use for farm pond bluegills, and that usually goes with me into the bush in the event speckled trout are available. Luckily the reel already contained a sinking fly line with a five-foot leader attached. In my wallet pack of basic fly patterns, I dug free a big gray-brown streamer that somewhat resembled a caddis nymph and secured it with a small knot, which in my haste I didn’t bother to trim. I then false-cast the fly a couple of times and set it on the placid lake surface about 30 feet from the boat. The line dipped and the fly sank from sight.

Although I’m not a hard-core flyfisherman, I still knew that to imitate an emerging insect, I would have to gently lift the artificial a few inches at a time while slowly bringing it back. I stripped a few inches of limp line, which suddenly slapped the rod. I had my first ‘eye on a fly.

My lightweight gear made the fish seem double the size of the cigar-shaped two-pounders we had been catching and releasing from this shallow reef at the lake’s north end. With my little rod curled into a C, I led the scrapper to the boat and saw the hint of telltale white along the under tail fin before slipping the walleye into our net. Jim was impressed with the 17-incher. “That looked like fun,” he said.

It was fun, and so were the eight or 10 others I caught and let go before darkness enveloped us. The biggest fish weighed only three pounds, but what did that matter? After a lifetime of trolling, jigging and drift-fishing with bottom-running gear, I had found a new and exciting way to catch walleyes!

Few anglers, flyfishermen included, think of going after walleyes with flyfishing tackle. “Walleyes are usually too deep to reach with flies,” one doubter will say. “They won’t take a dry fly at all,” insists another. A third contests, “It’s too much trouble. After you find walleyes, it’s much easier to take them on jigs, Lindy Rigs or crankbaits. Why mess with fancy gear?”

Fancy gear? What can be more basic than a rod, reel and handful of flies wrapped in a piece of sponge and folded into a shirt pocket? True, graphite rods are now state of the art. But competition among the many manufacturers is keeping prices affordable for us anglers who want to try the new game or upgrade old flyfishing gear. Cost to get set up with a decent rod, single-action reel, pair of lines, some leaders and tippets and a handful of flies is about $150, perhaps less if you shop for bargains or buy used equipment. (Consult the sidebar accompanying this article for tackle information, or see “Flyfishing Starter Kit” in the May 1992 issue for a complete fly tackle source list.)

Ever the opportunistic predator, walleyes eat insect larvae, pupae and winged adults in addition to their main diet of crayfish, minnows, leeches, worms and bugs. Once found, walleyes can usually be induced to bite when presentations appear natural. And nothing is more natural than flyfishing presentations.

What about deep-water fish, you ask? Yes, walleyes are bottom and structure-oriented, but they also suspend in deep lakes and frequent the shallows much more often than was formerly believed. A recent telemetry study on Lake Meredith in Texas revealed that walleyes there spent 75 percent of the time feeding in water 15 feet deep or less.

Each year four of every five tournaments in both the Masters Walleye Circuit and the Cabela’s/In-Fishermen Professional Walleye Trail are won in water 10 feet deep or less. Mike McClelland, one of the all-time money winners, has copped two tournaments by taking walleyes from only a foot of water. “Although I don’t flyfish,” McClelland told me, “I have no doubt that it would be a deadly tactic for shallow-water fish.”

Because walleyes are now found in nearly every state, flyfishermen have more opportunities than ever to catch them from rivers, reservoirs, inland lakes and each of the five Great Lakes. Flyfishermen can actually enjoy an advantage over other anglers, especially in clear water when walleyes are spooky. A balanced outfit allows the flycaster to put lightweight offerings on target without scaring fish, then make a natural, gentle presentation. In deeper water, high-density lines permit flyfishermen to get streamers and nymphal patterns to 20 feet. Insect larvae, leeches and crippled minnows can all be imitated with neutrally buoyant flies that act naturally when fished on sinking lines.

Under the right conditions, surface patterns will work, too. Years ago, for example, we caught after-dark walleyes in Michigan’s Lake St. Clair by tossing floating Rapalas to emergent weed beds. On summer evenings we could hear walleyes driving baitfish to the surface and swallowing them there. We never thought to rig flyfishing gear, but I’m certain it would have worked.

Below the dam powerhouse on Lake Oahe in South Dakota, anglers in the fall hammer walleyes on the surface after dark with stickbaits. I’ll bet a crippled minnow pattern would be a killer fly.

A few innovative flyfishermen have known for years that walleyes will take dry flies. Years ago, Bill Buckley, a friend of mine from Montana, spent the summer working as a teenage camp counselor at a lake in northwest Quebec. A rival counselor bragged about catching more than 100 keeper-size walleyes the summer before, and my friend, who had packed a crude fly rod, was determined to silence his boasting. One evening Buckley watched a school of walleyes mug a flight of spinners, big waxy yellow mayflies. Earlier that day he had spotted a dead evening grosbeak outside his cabin window. Plucking yellow feathers from the dead bird, Buckley tied up several crude flies with huge wing feathers and rough hackles. Over the next month he used those creations to catch more than 200 walleyes ranging from 16 to 24 inches.

I don’t know how many species of mayflies thrive in North America, but there must be thousands that hatch during the period from April to September. According to Mayflies, The Angler And The Trout by Fred Arbona Jr., a four-square-foot section of New York’s Beaverkill River turned up 35 species during an informal survey. Other sources list some thousand of kinds of caddis flies, and nearly 500 species of stoneflies. Walleyes are much less fussy than trout, and so matching the hatch is less critical. A handful of flies in varying sizes and colors will suffice for most hatches. About the time the hatches are coming on strong, walleyes are fully recuperated from the stress of spawning and will actively take these and other insect patterns.

However, probably 90 percent of “fly ‘eyes” are taken on mayfly or stonefly nymphs or caddis fly pupae patterns, which is why most walleye flyfishermen don’t bother with dry flies. Nearly any nymph pattern that approximates the size and color of the emerging insects will interest a feeding walleye. Many anglers stick with Muddler Minnow and crayfish patterns because they are nearly always in season as forage and are therefore deadly effective year-round.

“Because walleyes are the significant predator in our rivers, they eat nearly everything,” said Gord Ellis Jr., an Ontario writer friend of mine who began his flyfishing career pursuing speckled trout but now targets walleyes, too. “If you can approximate with flies what is on [the walleyes’] menu, you can get them to hit.” Ellis’ favorite technique is to wrap thin lead around the hook shank of a brown Muddler Minnow and then fish the streamer with a floating fly line. A Zonker pattern with metallic finish and fished like a crippled minnow is sure to interest a hungry walleye. Because Ellis also hooks the occasional northern pike, he fishes an 8-weight rod and likes a nine-foot leader of 12-pound test and a four-foot shock tippet of 15-pound test. Trout may be spooked by such a heavy leader, but most walleyes or northerns aren’t.

If northern pike are not on your agenda, though, shorten leaders to five feet and lighten the tippet to six-pound test or less. The reason? Long leaders make it more difficult to fish streamers above sinking fly lines. In addition to bucktails and muddlers, the Black Wooly Bugger is ideal for a subsurface presentation. Swim it like a jig or a leech.

Michigan steelhead rivers in the spring are often full of spawning walleyes, many of which are taken incidentally (and must be returned by law) on bright-colored streamers. Those experiences prompt Tony Petrella, a Sage rod representative and die-hard flyfisherman from Lansing, Michigan, to go after walleyes when the season opens in late April or mid-May.

“One of our dealers in South Bend, Indiana, turned me on to [flyfishing for walleyes] in the St. Joseph River a couple of years ago,” Petrella said. “Now I tie my own flies and fish for walleyes in the Chippewa and Tittabawassee rivers [in Michigan] as well as in the St. Joe.”

Petrella’s top fly is a minnow-imitating No. 2 or No. 4 streamer with silver Mylar body and white and yellow mixed marabou wings. He presents the fly in several ways–usually with a floating line or a sinking tip, sometimes with a Lee Wulff intermediate slow-sinking line while using the countdown method. “The idea is to predetermine the depth where walleyes are holding,” Petrella explained, “then let the fly sink naturally and retrieve it with an erratic strip.” His pattern is especially deadly because flies built from marabou exhibit pulsating, undulating action, much like the fins of a minnow.

Petrella’s best walleye to date, a sag-bellied eight-pounder from the St. Joe, nailed such a fly one evening in early September. While stripping slowly with the injured minnowlike retrieve, Petrella spotted the fish move a bit. A series of short tugs triggered the walleye into a rush, and Petrella set the hook hard.

Whoever said that walleyes don’t fight has certainly not dueled a strong river fish on lightweight flyfishing gear. So why not try it out? You should experience the subtle perfection of taking an ‘eye on a fly.

Don’t mess with bluegills: serious tactics and gear that make panfishing more fun than ever

One of the best places to fish for bluegills is in shallow areas in April or May, during the spawn. The appropriate tackle includes an ultra-ultra-light spin rod and a limp 2- to 4-pound test line. The use of grubs, mini-worms, spinners, spoons, fake bugs, crankbaits and spinnerbaits is described.
Serious tactics and gear that make panfishing more fun than ever.

Look for elephant tracks in the water,” I was told many years ago. As a fishing-struck kid, I ached to catch some of the big bluegills that were said to be on their spawning beds in a nearby lake, but I was a little vague on the procedure. “Round,” my advisor explained, describing an oval with his hands. Another sage (probably 40, 41 years old, I’d now guess), gave me an additional tip: “Lots of times, you can smell ’em. Bluegill beds smell a lot like fresh-cut watermelon.”


I still love that kind of angling folklore, which, however dubious, was and is a lot more fun than the charts-and-graphs data of the present age. And I do remember the first time I clearly identified an actual bluegill bed: ovoid, concave, a white roundness bright against the furry-green bottom. Was that watermelon I smelled? Using a spinning rod and a trio of split-shot for weight, I cast a bright red sponge-fly with white rubber legs past the bed and jigged it in. The fly became suddenly visible over the bed’s whiteness. A dark form flashed in and attacked, and I was into the first good bedded-bluegill of my life.

A very few things don’t change over the years. Angling for bluegills on their spawning beds may be one of them, though refinements in modem tackle have made the game more fun than ever.


Bluegills move into the shallows to spawn when the water warms to 67 [degrees] E This can be early April or late May, depending on the latitude. (Some bluegills in any given lake may spawn later than the majority, well into June, and occasionally as late as July.) More specifically, many anglers swear that the peak spawn activity, and the best fishing, occurs during the phase of the full moon.

The best way to find the beds is to walk the shoreline or drift along in a boat or float-tube while searching the two- to six-foot depths for saucer-shaped depressions in sandy, muddy or pea-gravel bottoms. Beds may appear empty, but probably aren’t. Once the females deposit their eggs, the male bluegills stand guard, often lying off to one side, against a darker, less contrasting background. Nest-guarding males are aggressive and will strike at nearly anything–including a fly or lure–that threatens the eggs.


Spawning bluegills are not hard to catch. The main tactical demand is that you not blunder or splash onto the scene, which can frighten fish off the beds. (Even stalwart egg-guarding males will run for cover if too large a predator shows up.) The real key to catching lots of fish and having the most possible fun is to use the right tackle. Standard medium to heavy freshwater rods ant lines reduce the efficacy of your small-bait presentations (limiting both distance and finesse), and mute the spunky tussling of a hooked fish. I like ultra-ultra light spin rods, 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 feet long, with slow, willowy actions. This kind o rod, coupled with a matching reel and fresh, limp 2- to 4-pound-test line makes it easy to cast the tiny jigs, grub tails and porkrind flicks that bluegills love to hammer. Many of the new “micro” spin and spincast systems are perfect for bluegilling. Kids and beginners will find the close-faced, under-the-rod “trigger-spin”-type reels easiest to handle and virtually tangle-free.

To my mind, flyrodding provides the ultimate in bluegill sport. Any standard trout rod–the lighter the better–will work; but my very favorite bluegill rods are Orvis’s 7 1/2-foot One-Weight; a “spring creek”-style 8 1/2-foot 2-weigh and Bob Dennison’s diminutive five-foot 3-weight Fly-Lite rod/reel combo [see Rods & Reels, Winter 1996-97]. Use a seven- to 11-foot leader tapering to a 5X to 6X tippet. These delicate outfits turn even a midsized bluegill into sheer delight.

The most important attribute of a bluegill lure is compactness. With its tiny mouth, compared to that of a bass, pike or even a crappie, a bluegill simply cannot get its lips around a large morsel of food. And the bluegills know it. They won’t even try to strike big, chunky offerings.

If that size requirement is met, these pugnacious little gamefish will strike a wide variety of artificials. Some days they’ll nab a spinner flashing by, other times they’ll wallop a spoon or a grub slinking past a sunken log.

You can probably get by with one or two favorite lure types, but to be ready for all the finicky moods sunfish can display, it’s best to stock a larger selection. Also carry a variety of colors including black, red, pumpkinseed, silver, orange, white and green/black striped.


If forced to narrow my choice to one offering, this would be it: a simple round leadhead jig of 1/64- to 1/16-ounce with a soft-plastic body. I would stock a few fluttering twister-tails, but even more bodies with stubby split or single tails that display little motion on the retrieve. Bluegills seem to like it like that–plain and simple. The overall length should be no more than 3/, to 1 1/4 inches.

Cast and retrieve just fast enough that you don’t hang up on bottom, pausing occasionally. Another method that works well is to rig these grubs beneath a small bobber and twitch them near brushpiles, stumps, weeds or spawning beds. This allows an even slower presentation than you can obtain using the jig by itself.


In two- to three-inch versions, plastic worms can be as deadly on bluegills as they are on bass. Rig them Texas-style with a 1/16- to 1/8-ounce bullet sinker on a No. 4 sproat hook, or use pre-rigged versions such as those sold by Wordens, Creme and others. These seem to work especially well at dawn and dusk, fished over beds or near submerged timber and weeds.


Small spinners such as the Mepps Aglia, Thunderbug and Spin Fly, Worden’s Roostertail, Mann’s Winger, Panther Martin and Caliber are great lures. Use them in moderate-to-deep water in rivers, and in lakes when the water is stained. A steady retrieve is best.


Casting tiny wobbling spoons such as those made by Eppinger and Luhr-Jensen is a neglected but very effective way to take bluegills. I reserve these for pre- and post-spawn conditions, when fish are in a more actively feeding mode instead of a nest-protecting one. Vertically jigging miniature slab and ice spoons also works when fish are deep–whether the water’s surface is frozen or not.


Soft-plastic insects made by Creme, Burke and others offer more convenience than using live bait, and with scent- and flavor-enhancers mixed in, they often work as well as the real things. Some come pre-rigged, or you can fish them on a small fine-wire hook. Attach one or two split-shot and slowly crank them back, or fish them suspended beneath a float, twitching lightly to add action.


Most anglers think of these as baits that are used strictly for bass, but in smaller versions they can work wonders on jumbo bluegills. They are also hot lures for catching redbreasts in streams. Small wobbling Flatfish lures and the tiny Bomber 3F Fat A are good examples. Rebel also has a complete line of ultralight panfish crankbaits, including the Crickhopper, Tadfry, Hellgrammite and Cat’r Crawler.


These lures combine the best of two top bluegill offerings–a Colorado spinner and grub or jig. The Beetlespin is a classic bluegill spinnerbait good for ponds, lakes and especially streams. Also worth checking out are the Blue Fox Foxee Spin and the new Mister Twister Tiger Spin with a chenille bee-type body and fluttering feather tail.


Don’t forget the lowly worm, the No. 1 live bait for catching bluegills. Impale a worm on a No. 1 to No. 6 long-shanked hook (to make removal from the panfishes’ small mouths easier) and suspend it trader a bobber. Try various depths and in and around different cover types until you find the level at which the fish are feeding.


You could almost get by with one fly for bluegills–but not quite. If you had to pick a single offering, it would definitely be a sponge-rubber spider. With its soft body and quivering white legs, this fly imitates a variety of insects. Tie it unweighted for topwater fishing, or use it with split-shot or lead on the hook shank for subsurface action. Red, green, black and white are productive, Sizes 8 to 12. If fish are striking but not getting hooked, trim the legs with scissors.

Other flies worth stocking are weighted nyphs, particularly the new beadhead patterns and wet flies such as the Black Gnat or Wolly Worm. Also carry a few trout dry patterns including the ant, bettle, mosquito, Irresistible and Humpy in Sizes 10 to 14.

Ask the experts

CEOs, understaffed, financially secure, ISO tech talent

In the incredibly shrinking labor market, Cyveillance, an Arlington-based Internet services company that gathers intelligence for e-commerce and monitors intellectual property, has had more than its share of success fishing for IT talent.


As the 2-year-old company has landed eight-digit venture capital and added dozens of the nation’s largest companies to its client roster, its staff quadrupled from 15 to 60 employees over the past eight months.

Cyveillance’s CEO, Brandy Thomas, hunts for new employees in all the usual places and then some. The company places advertisements in newspapers, trade publications and on online job sites such as tecHound and Careerbuilder. The firm recruits at the university that best fits its needs: MIT.