The return of warm weather inspires anglers to dig out the rod and reel. The entire family can all take part in bluegill fishing. The many public fishing areas of southern Illinois provide ample space to enjoy an uncrowded angling experience.

The bluegill’s habit of racing one another to a worm dangled beneath a bobber endears it to every angler from novice to expert. Children need to catch fish regularly on their first exposure to angling in order to help maintain their interest. It’s flat, compact body enables the bluegill to maneuver in weedy areas as well as open water.

Although the best populations of bluegills are in clear, well-vegetative lakes, they are adaptable to most any water conditions. The ideal water is clean, deep, and has a PH of 7.2. Most of the area waters meet that standard. In the less desirable waters they will not reach the greatest numbers and size.

The body of a bluegill is seldom more than an inch thick. They have a dark olive-green back with dark blue vertical stripes on the sides. The breast of males are bright red-orange with the female being a dull yellow. The chin and lower portion of the gill cover is blue, hence the name bluegill.

Bluegills are at their best when water temperatures range between 50 to 90-degrees.

They will feed on aquatic insects and larvae as well as arthropods and crustaceans. A scrappy fighter, the aggressive behavior of the bluegill is an indicator that the species does not flourish in a body of water because of its intellect.

Spawning appears to be closely related to the full moon phases, with fish moving onto the beds for about five days prior to the full moon and remaining their for a like time thereafter. Fish can still be located after that time on the same spawning beds later on during the secondary spawning activities of the later weeks.

During the spawn, males scrape a depression in the bottom of the body of water. They build nests on sand and gravel bars near shore in about 12 to 40 inches of water. Bluegills prefer less turbid, shallow shorelines around weeds and other cover.

The male guards the nest with vigor. They will strike anything that comes into the area. The action can be so active that bubbles appear on the surface. It is this aggressive action and its predictable occurrence that makes bluegill a good fish for teaching youngsters to fish.

Bluegills school according to size. Catching small “gills” is easier because they lack experience despite their aggressive behavior. Schools of small bluegills appear near all kinds of structure in shallow water all day. Some good location might be boat docks, overhanging trees, fallen logs and shallow patches of vegetation adjacent to deeper water.

The big bluegills isolate themselves from the small fish and tend to stay in deeper water. They are more selective in what they eat and are less aggressive.   They will cruise the open water feasting on bugs and minnows. Big gills suspend in water of from 10 to 30 feet. They stage near drop-offs along the outside edge of shallow water and in the deep water. They can be located by fan casting.

An often overlooked bluegill location is where open fields extend to the shoreline. The insects from the fields blow into the shallow water of the shoreline. A summer shower will also wash insects and worms into the water at the same location. The big fish learn early to wait there to be first in line for dinner.



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