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Deepwater Bluegills

By Dave Duwe - June 1, 2007
Maybe some of you can relate to this childhood memory. My dad and I always went fishing for bluegills in the spring in the shallow bays. We had a great time. As summer grew, we continued to fish those shallow bays and I always wondered what happened to the fish. The big bluegills became 3-4 inches by the middle of summer and we just thought the big fish weren't biting. I guess we weren't too good at figuring things out in those days, we just didn't know how much we didn't know!

Hopefully this article will help break the cycle of those childhood memories of dads and their lads not catching any big bluegills in the summer. The simple answer for catching the quality fish is "Go Deep"

In most lakes of southeastern Wisconsin that have deep water, such as Delavan Lake and Lake Geneva in Walworth county and Pine Lake in Waukesha county, the bluegills move from the shallow sandy bays as soon as they finish spawning and head to the deep weed lines. Once on the deep weed lines, they are aggressively feeding on blood worms and water insects.

The biggest key to finding the deep gills is a good fish locator. I use a Vexilar FL 18 flasher on my Minn Kota bow mount trolling motor. It's just as accurate in summer as it is in winter. I prefer the weed lines off of the main lake basin. I start in 15-18 ft of water and have gone as deep as 35 ft.

My bait of choice is hand-picked worms that my son digs from the garden and my wife's flower beds. Unfortunately, there are only so many worms a 4 year old can find so leaf worms also work great. I use a small 1/32 oz Arkie jig fished on a slip bobber with a split shot positioned 1 ft up from the jig. Another option is a small version of the drop shot rig, basically the same principle as the bass version just downsized. I work the weed edge vertically and rarely ever cast. When you locate a school of bluegills, the action is fast and furious. I usually start in an area trolling with my bow mount to see where the fish are positioned, and then I start to fish.

"The simple answer for catching the quality fish is "Go Deep""
Bluegills are usually tight to the bottom, within 1 to 2 ft, however I have seen them suspend to you need to be prepared to make adjustments. You can always try the speed method for finding the fish, watch the other boats, most of the anchored boats in deep water are fishermen trying for panfish.

With a little practice, the summertime bluegill fishing will become very productive and easy. Don't let the deep water intimidate you.

Now that you have some helpful hints, make sure you take your kids out fishing. Make no mistake, whether we caught fish or not, fishing with dad will always be one of the best childhood memories.

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 .
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