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Fall Bluegills, good enough to eat!

By Dave Duwe - October 1, 2009
After a long season of guiding, running to flag football games and my daughters dance classes; I can now find the time to take my son fishing. When I take my son and friends out fishing I can remember how relaxing and fun fishing is. The fishing I enjoy most this time of year is bluegill fishing. They are abundant and seem to be always biting. My son judges the success of the trip on how many fish can be brought home to eat. For 61 lbs, he can eat more fish than any 300 lb man! He often mentions that if we don't keep any fish to eat, he won't tip me. He doesn't realize that the $1 he gives me doesn't even cover the gas to get us out past the no-wake buoys.

In early October, the bluegills are on the weed edge in about 14-16 ft of water. I prefer the weed lines associated with deep secondary points. In late summer, the fish are on the points and as the water cools, they will start to head down the weed line and that is where I look for them. In late October and early November, the bluegills will completely pull off the weed line and suspend but that kind of fishing is a story for another day.

For the weed line bluegills, I choose two presentations. The first is a slip bobber rig with a single hook (size 12) or a Bait Rigs panfish cobra (chartreuse or pink). The bait of choice is a leaf worm or a wax worm. I will fish the bait 6 inches to 1 foot. To insure accurate depth location, I use an ice fishing lead depth finder to set my slip bobber.

The second presentation is the straight line method beneath the boat. The rig is a ¼ oz attractor. I use an agitator produced by Tommy Harris ( and a panfish cobra from Bait Rigs. The attractor acts like a sinker while enticing the shy bluegills into striking. The rig is basically the attractor with a small piece of 4 lb test line tied to the bottom of the weight , the baited jig should hang 2 ½ - 3 inches below the attractor(figure 1). If the line is too long, it will tangle when you jig the rig. If it is too short, the flash might spook the fish, instead of attracting them. I bait the rig with wax worms or red worms. The flash attracts the fish while the bait entices them to bite. With the weight of the rig, it can be worked effectively in most depths. Simply open the bail and let the rig drop to the bottom, then crank the rig up approximately 6 inches off bottom. I will then jig the rig with a lot of pauses; you need to hold the rod still to detect the bites. Make sure you are very subtle with the jig movement.

For both presentations it is imperative to have an anchored boat. By anchoring, depth changes will not be a factor.

I am a firm believer in only catching and keeping what you are going to eat. I will never freeze any fish. Far too many people will keep way more fish then they will eat. In early October, the bluegills are abundant and a limit can be caught in short order. Enough preaching!

With the warm autumn pattern predicted, bluegill fishing should remain excellent throughout most of October. Good lakes to try for fall bluegills are the Madison chain and Delavan Lake in Southeastern Wisconsin.

Remember to always take a kid fishing, when they have to get up early they won't be out hooting with the owls!

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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