The full moon in May through July brings out Illinois’ official fish in abundance.  In southern Illinois, the madness of their mating ritual makes for catching bluegill in excellent size and numbers.

The ease with which they bite and the simple tackle used, make bluegill a great fish for the child and novice to enter the sport.  The water quality and long feeding season in southern counties produces larger fish and greater abundance in the fishery.

Multiple spawning periods during the spring and early summer relate to the full moon phases.  They continue spawning into August but in more reduced numbers.  Bluegills bite all year around but for a few days on either side of the full moon during the spring and early summer, it is possible to catch them in abundance.  Virtually every body of water will contain good populations of these feisty fighters.

The first spawn usually takes place during the period of three days on either side of the full moon in May.  A saucer-shaped bare area in the vegetation beneath the water surface is a tell tale sign of bedding fish.  Often multiple beds adjoin one another.  The bedding areas are in the backs of coves, with fish moving into and out of them on a regular basis.

The males move in first to clear out the nesting area.  Then the females approach, the mating occurs and the females move to deeper water.  They remain close, just of the nests.  The males move in and protect the nest from predators such as largemouth bass.  Once the fry hatch, the male stays with them for a short period and then they are on their own.

Bluegills continue to spawn in the same manner during the next few months in decreasing numbers, but still relating to the moon phase.

Spawning fish prefer the spring weed growth as a place to lay their eggs.  Angler can move from one bedding area to another working within casting range of the fish.

Through the entire spawning period, the most bluegill remain in shallows.  They will respond to a number of offerings from anglers.

Fly rods and ultra light spinning gear seem to be favorites of most bluegill anglers.  Cane poles with a tiny hook and bobber are popular of both young and old.

It is vital to remember that these are small fish.  Light line and small bobbers are important.  During this period, these aggressive fish will take a variety of baits.   Most popular are pieces of nightcrawler, crickets, red worms, and mealworms are most often used.  Small poppers are popular with those not wanting to use natural baits and fly rod fans.

A small trout hook on a light line is presented with or without a weight.  Usually, the hook suspends below a very small float so the weight can be a hindrance.  If you need a weight, you add small split shot to the point where the float will be upright and remain on the surface.

The use of a long rod or pole allows one to dip the bait into holes in the weed structure.  That is often where the big fish rest from the suns rays.

Most public waters contain sizeable populations of good size bluegills.  Biologists report that strip mine pits filled with water have just the right pH levels for the growth of bluegills.  Many of our state parks are reclaimed strip mine property and as a result produce buster gills.  Local bait shops are a good place to seek information on where to find fish.

Gothic novels often tell of man going crazy during the full moon.  That may or may not be the case, but bluegills become more aggressive during the spring full moons and anglers can take advantage of the opportunity.


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