Tough to beat thrill of fishing for bluegill

Fishing lures were once so valuable to me I would climb trees to retrieve them before breaking one off.

These days, my supply of fishing tackle might be an early indicator of becoming a hoarder. No matter how much gear I obtain, though, the simple pursuit of fishing for bedding bluegills with a worm under a bobber remains a favorite.

Many of us forged our love of fishing catching bluegills. As time passed, we moved on to the more complicated exploits of fishing for bass and other prized game fish. Yet, the magic of watching a bobber dance has never faded. For me, the excitement of catching hard-fighting bluegills in big numbers when they are bedding is a thrill I can barely get enough of.

Most bluegills spawn when water temperatures are from 65 to 75 degrees. Some will spawn above and below those temperatures, but that’s pretty much the magic range. The water temperature on my favorite little lake is 72 degrees, and bluegills are on beds all around the shore.

Bluegill beds usually are easy to locate. They look like underwater saucers. And there are a lot of them right next to each other. While cruising shallow shorelines and the back of coves, keep looking down into the water, especially around fallen docks and natural structure.

When you start to see beds, back off and pitch your bait right on top of them. You can do this from the shore or from a boat.

Bluegills are aggressive defenders of their nests, so they’ll smash just about anything you drop on them. Worms, beemoths, crickets, minnows and artificial lures all will work well this time of year. I really like fishing with crickets for bluegills, but they’re not the easiest bait to come by. Worms are readily available to anyone with a shovel and are effective bluegill bait.

I must admit, it had been a while since I dug worms to go fishing. But the other night I actually ran out of nightcrawlers while fishing, so I grabbed a shovel from the barn and went to work. There is something special about digging up worms in your own back yard and using them to catch fish. It took me back.

When I was a kid, a lady named Pam who lived across the street from my grandparents would take me fishing. Now, I was little, like 3 or 4. But I remember her teaching me how to dig worms. She said once you sink the spade of the shovel into the dirt, rocking it back and forth calls the worms up out of the ground.

All these years later, even though I know she was just fooling with a little boy, I still can’t help but rocking the shovel. Maybe it works, because I sure filled a box full of worms from only a few shovels of dirt.

Slip bobbers are a must for me. There’s nothing wrong with bobbers you clip on your line, but for me it’s slip bobbers all the way. I guess it’s because that’s what grandpa always used. I’m sure he felt they were the more sophisticated choice. I just like how easy they are to cast.

If you haven’t tried using slip bobbers before, you might want to give them a try. You can buy bobber stops or you can use a little piece of rubber skirt from a spinnerbait. Tie it on your line at the depth you want your bait. Once you pitch it out, the bobber will slip up to the stopper.

The magic window of catching spawning bluegills doesn’t last. Soon the big, colorful bulls will scatter in deep water. I love catching these big bluegills while I can, which is why I am careful not to keep too many. There is nothing wrong with keeping some of these bluegills for eating, but always be mindful of the resource. You can over-harvest these feisty little fish, so keep a reasonable amount and release the rest.

See you down the trail.