Putting Bluegills to Bed

By Dave Duwe - June 1, 2014
Bluegills will spawn in mid- May through June, they prefer to spawn when the water temperature reaches 70 degrees. This time of year, I often find active bluegills in less than 3 feet of water. I search for the warmest water on the lake, typically on a sunny shoreline. I choose locations like the back of bays or channels and look for soft muddy bottoms. They seem to warm more quickly and hold more fish. The softer bottoms contain more vegetation which provides both food and shelter for the bluegills. Fishing in the shallow water makes it pretty easy to sight fish for spawning bluegills. I will use my Minn-kota trolling motor to slowly cruise the shallows and locate the spawning fish. Bluegills will create a cylindrical pattern in the bottom vegetation when they spawn, which is a dead giveaway on their location. If you have kids in your boat you can get them involved by using them as bluegill spotters. Just give them your polarized glasses and cut them lose. In early summer, most lakes are very clear so making long casts are important so you don't spook the fish.

This time of year, the preferred bait is leaf worms or wax worms. I will use a small Thill fixed spring bobber and an ice jig. I like the Snyder Lures, Waxie Rig. This jig provides the bait in a vertical presentation. For a horizontal presentation, I use the Froggit, also by Snyder Lures. By presenting the bait in two different presentations, it doubles your chances of catching fish. You always want to use the smallest bobber you can get away with to keep the bait off bottom. Occasionally, you need to add a few split shots to keep the bobber very neutral buoyancy. Gary Snyder, of Snyder Lures thinks that the most important thing is to keep the jigs as natural as possible. Most of the baits the bluegills are eating fall slowly as would something natural in their environment. If you find that your jig is falling too fast, you can slow the fall by adding a small piece of plastic to the jig. Small plastics can even entice more fish to strike adding a different color and wiggle to the presentation.

On occasion when the fish are deeper I will switch from the fixed bobber to a slip- bobber. Make sure when attaching the slip-bobber knot you don't pull it too tight on your line for this can weaken your line in that spot. I like to position the bait about six inches or so off bottom or the vegetation. When using slip bobbers, pole length is critical. I will always use a 6 foot 6 inch or longer pole. This helps with longer casts while allowing good hook sets. I have my reel spooled with 4 pound test line.

The lake I guide on the most is one of the best bluegill lakes in Wisconsin. Delavan Lake is in southeastern Wisconsin, about 1 hour Southwest of Milwaukee and 1hour north of Chicago. Delavan Lake has a maximum depth of 52 feet with a plentiful supply of shallow bays and points which are excellent locations for bluegills to spawn.

All fish are vulnerable during spawning and bluegills are no exception. We need to protect our resource and return the females into the water. Enjoy the start of the summer and some of the best bluegill fishing of the year.

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 .