Bulls on the Beds

By Dave Duwe - May 1, 2008
Early summer is one of my favorite times of year; the end of snow, flowers blooming and most importantly, bluegills on their beds. The bigger bluegills are in some circles called "Bulls." They are big and fight like a fish 4-5 times their size. Bluegills will spawn in mid-May through June. They prefer to spawn when the water temperature reaches 70 degrees. The best locations are had sandy bottoms associated with weeds. The bluegills will clear the bottom down to the sand in a circle before the female will lay her eggs. Once the eggs are fertilized, the male will guard the nests from predators.

I fish the lakes of Southeastern Wisconsin; my favorite lake is Delavan Lake an hour southwest of Milwaukee. Delavan Lake has a maximum depth of 52 ft. with a plentiful supply of shallow bays and points, which are an excellent location for Bluegills to spawn. The water depth that I watch for is the 2-6 ft depth range.

Fishing in this shallow of water, makes it quite easy to sight fish the spawning bluegills. I will use my bow mount trolling motor to slowly cruise the shallows to spot the spawning bluegills. Those circles in the bottom vegetation are a dead give a way to their location.

I will make a long cast past the bedding fish and pull the bait back to them which will prevent the fish from being spooked. You need to keep the noise down to a minimum or else they will either swim away or just not bite. Long accurate casts are imperative.

My preferred pattern is a simple slip bobber with a single hook or an ice jig. The ice jigs that I use most are Bait-Rigs in Panfish Cobras or the Rat Finke. I prefer the jigs in chartreuse, pink or orange. One should tip the ice jig with either spikes or wax worms. For the plain hook presentation I prefer to use garden worms that my five year old son digs for me. Leaf worms work equally well but they certainly aren't as fun to find. Hellgrammites are probably the best bait; however their price sometimes deters people from using them. In shallow waters, you need to use the smallest bobber possible and I almost never use a sinker.


When using slip bobbers, I like to use a longer pole than most ultra-lites. A 6'6" pole will aid in making longer casts while also assisting in a good hook set. Any good spinning reel will work; I personally use the Cardinal 300 series reels. A good limp fishing line is needed. I like a 4 lb test and clear Trilene or Silver Thread are both good choices.

When fish are spawning and sight fishing is quite easy, I will never keep a limit of fish. I am aware that these fish are the future of our fishery. The lakes I normally fish have a limit of 25 fish; I prefer to keep very few of these fish. When in the shallows, fish are usually quite easy to catch and limits can be bagged in a very short time.

Enjoy the start of summer and some of the best bluegill fishing of the year. This would be a great time to take a child fishing. Remember, fishing memories last a lifetime.

Author Dave Duwe
Dave Duwe
Full-time guide Dave Duwe owns and operates Dave Duwe's Guide Service, featuring the lakes of Walworth County, WI. Dave has been guiding for over 20 years and is one of Southeastern Wisconsin's best multi-species anglers. Dave is an accomplished outdoor writer and seminar speaker. He is a member of the Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Association and Walworth County Visitor Bureau. Sponsors include: Lund Boats(Jerry's Sport Service Inc.), Mercury Marine, Arkie Jigs, and Vexilar Marine Electronics, a pro-staff member of Minn-Kota trolling motors,Hummingbird graphs, Cannon downriggers, Lindy, Pure Fishing and All Terrain Tackle. For more information, please check out Dave's website www.fishlakegeneva.com .