It’s hot. It’s humid. Has your fishing success slowed with the conditions? One fish leads the way with lots of action for anglers in the good, old summertime — bluegill.
Catching bluegill is the perfect way to introduce youngsters and newcomers to fishing.
Here are some reasons you and your family should tackle bluegill for your summer fishing in Nebraska.
Available just about everywhere: The bluegill is native to Nebraska and inhabits nearly all ponds, reservoirs, lakes, old river oxbows and meandering creeks. If there’s a decent-sized pool of water available, chances are there’s probably bluegill in it.
Easy to find: The bluegill is a fish of the shallows and exists near the shoreline around vegetation, structure, timber and even sometimes where there isn’t any aquatic habitat. Look for bluegill around or near their plate-shaped spawning bed depressions.
According to Daryl Bauer, Game and Parks’ fisheries outreach program manager, bigger bluegill tend to hang out in deeper water just beyond those depressions and along deeper edges of weed, moss and algae lines in summer. Bauer says larger “bull” bluegill are normally risk-takers and like to hang out in slightly deeper water due to their size. Bauer adds that those bigger fish tend to go a bit farther from aquatic cover and vegetation for better feeding prospects.
Simple equipment and cheap bait: Basic fishing gear will suffice for catching bluegill. I like to use an ultralight rod and reel with light line, small hooks, small steel weights and small bobbers. Anything from night crawlers, to canned sweet corn bought at the supermarket, to grasshoppers caught in the weeds will work just fine as bait. Small artificial lures such as jigs of contrasting colors also work well.
Lots of them, good action, bold fish, strong fighters, made for kids to catch: Bluegill are prolific in nature and a numerous prey species. They are a schooling fish, and quick, competitive, aggressive feeders. They also have a reputation for being one of the strongest fighters, typically swimming at hard right angles with their round, flat bodies after being hooked.
Hot action in the heat: Some of the best bluegill fishing occurs when the intense summer heat and humidity have descended on us. From now through Labor Day, bluegill save the day for many families vacationing near water and wanting to catch fish. After all, bluegill are cold-blooded creatures. That means their body temperature varies with their surroundings and they get more active and hungry when the water is warmer.
Fun of paddle craft fishing: Anglers with kayaks, paddleboards, canoes, etc. have a blast fishing for bluegill. Many of these anglers do what is called “softbaiting.” This involves using smaller weighted jigheads and rubber or plastic lures that resemble baitfish, earthworms or aquatic organisms. Softbaiting reduces the need to take messy live baits on board and allows for quick, repeated casts, catches and releases.
Excellent table fare: Bluegill fillets are delicious rolled in flour and seasonings, then given a swim in hot cooking oil.
If you are just getting into fishing, knowing some simple basics is key to having fun and success. A helpful resource is Game and Parks’ Going Fishing Guide, available at OutdoorNebraska.gov/howtofish.
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