Panfish Fishing

Panfish size?

5/27/16 @ 11:23 AM
User since 1/20/09

With the new regulations on some WI lakes, does anyone feel there should be a size limit? I have my personal sizes at 7.5" for bluegills in the winter and 8" in the summer. I ask because I have seen people with buckets of bluegills around 5" then brag about how they caught their limit without any mention of the size. As for crappie and perch, I usually aim for 9" or bigger. I also know it's everyone's right to keep what they think but I personally prefer quality over quantity.

Displaying 31 to 45 of 51 posts
5/6/22 @ 11:25 AM
User since 8/2/01

I think research shows that as you remove those larger gills, and liberal limits persist mother nature compensates by enabling younger and smaller fish to spawn, over time you go from very healthy 9-10in fish spawning to 5-6 in fish capable of spawning to replace the overharvest.

Probably a daunting task but if there is ever any hope of returning lakes with decent panfish size and populations you do need to not only reduce the bag limits.  But you need to restrict the number of larger fish say over 8.5 or 9in that are harvested to keep growth rates up.  Once those smaller 5-6 in fish start to spawn their growth rates become much slower. 

5/5/22 @ 9:14 PM
PRO MEMBER User since 7/6/05

i believe it should be bluegills over 8 in no keep and all limits for panfish  15 fish thats it no more 

5/9/17 @ 12:11 PM
User since 1/6/09

Did some researching on Lake Havasu.  It's legit.  They catch bluegills and redear sunfish over 5 pounds there (full of eggs) - even without the eggs adding weight, a 17" bluegill is still a sight to see.

Not all of the pictures I found look to be pure, though, more like a hybrid between a crappie or rock bass, but then I have no experience with 15-17" bluegills to know what one looks like.

4/13/17 @ 2:56 PM
PRO MEMBER User since 6/22/01
Snakester, no you did not.  I was mainly posting my experience with a fish that was a female but came back as a male.  A lot of taxidermists paint the bluegills that orange color that the bull males have, but the females do not get that color to them.  I hope I didn't offend you or anything, it's a nice mount, just was curious if it looked like that or not when it came out of the water.
4/11/17 @ 10:27 AM
.Long Barrels
User since 12/9/14

If you want a good bluegill paint job take it to Simpson's taxidermy in Winneconne.  Only person that can a paint a gill and NOT look like a sunfish\bluegill\warmouth mix.  

4/11/17 @ 8:24 AM
PRO MEMBER User since 6/22/01
Snakester, you sure that gill was a male?  I was really upset with one of my friend's 10.5" bluegills he got mounted.  The paint job was really pretty, like yours...problem was his bluegill was a female!  The orange coloring and everything, it didn't look anything like that when he caught it!  and I have a picture of that bluegill.  It was a rare bluegill from that lake.  They reduced the bluegill limit on the lake about 10 years ago to 10 and put a 14-18" slot on the lake for bass.  You can catch 13" bass out of that lake all day long and they are delicious!  But for some reason, the DNR doesn't know why either, the lake hasn't been reproducing bluegills for a number of years.  If they ever do come back, I hope the genetics are still in them.  That 10.5" was the only gill we kept that day, and only because it swallowed the hook and was bleeding.  He froze that bluegill as well, wrapped in a towel.  Just wish the taxidermist would have been able to duplicate the female look to it! 
4/10/17 @ 2:10 PM
.Long Barrels
User since 12/9/14

snake yes,  I agree the paint job is pretty decent.  looks freeze dried tho,  i'll never have another freeze dried.  I have one,  totally disgusted with it.

 Lake Havasu huh...well I see he has a South Dakota st university hat on the dude and the background doesn't look too Arizona ish.  Could be, just speculation on my part.

4/8/17 @ 11:02 AM
PRO MEMBER User since 8/29/06

When I was a young man (12ish) growing up in central PA my dad caught a 13.5" gill out of a farm pond. I measured it carefully. I pleaded with him to mount it and he told me to clean it. I tried to scale it and the scales wouldn't come off. We filleted it and ate it. That was in the late 70's. We fished for food. It was always fun but there was no mistake we were there to get dinner. With 5 kids and a lower middle class income (dad was a teacher and they didn't pay worth a squat). We ate a lot of bass too. 

When I go back each summer I remind him of that fish. He always says it tasted real good.

4/6/17 @ 11:12 AM
.Long Barrels
User since 12/9/14

Koon,  nice story.  13 inch gills.  sure.  

On a positive note,  10 inch gills are rare.  I don't care where you fish,  a 10 is rare.  Lot's catch them,  but what they forgot to tell you is that they never actually measured them.  I get 8.5's people swear "that's GOT TO BE close to 10".  No.  sorry.  There are guys that know,  but most don't.  Don't be the guy that brags of ton's of 10's because someone like me will immediately know you are a tool.  

Madison area gives up the best numbers of 10's...if you are a resident of the area,  i'd believe you.  Also,  NO other bluegills in WI rival mendota,  you get a 10 there is a big wide tank.  Some lakes you see 10's that are long and skinny.  those suck.  10 inches and doesn't even go a pound.  Milwaukee, Waukesha areas have a lot of those paper thin and long gills.  

SnakeSter posted a pick of a big gill below,  i'm sure it was caught in MN or the dakotas.  they get giants there on a regular basis.

4/6/17 @ 10:39 AM
User since 5/22/14

I had a large stringer of gills in the freezer ranging from 10.5 to 13 all gills was going to mount them and my lovely bride accidentally threw them away thinking they were fish guts. Those Are re only fish I've kept over 9.5 have caught to many 10" out of that lake to count. All of my large gills. Aught out of the same private lake. My limits are above 7.5 and in most lakes below 9 those fish will hit the grease

8/13/16 @ 12:12 PM
drummer boy
drummer boy
User since 3/14/08

 I have caught 10in plus gills out of two lakes,but have not caught any in 6or 7 years.One froze out two years in a row and has yet to come back,the other the lake association killed most of the weeds has not produced mutch sense.I do think the lake that froze out may of had some hybreds I caught some that hit 12in.I do agree that some 10in gills never had a tape put on them just saying.Kind of like some walleye tournaments when during practise they talk about catching 10 lb eyes then on tournament day the biggest is only 8lb.I talked to a tournment fishermen about this and he laughed saying that is what 10lb fish weigh when you realley put  them on a scale. 

8/11/16 @ 8:22 PM
User since 5/17/11

I've caught one 10.5" gill in my life, that I measured and then threw back. I seriously considered mounting it. And I can tell you the next one over 10" will be going on the wall. 

You want to catch more big bluegills you have to throw the ones over 8" back. 6.5-8" are your eating size gills. 

8/11/16 @ 5:50 PM
PRO MEMBER User since 6/17/01
I fish a lake with the new 10/25 limit. Guys who used to come often and take their 25 fish limit of bluegills don't seem to be coming anymore.  So I would think that the bluegill would have a somewhat better chance at growing up.
8/5/16 @ 1:01 PM
User since 6/23/09

I think we'll have to take a wait and see about the size limit on panfish.  I only panfish during the ice season and pretty much strictly panfish Washington/Waukesha County in SE Wisconsin.  If the new bag limits work like they're supposed to, I would think the size structure will improve.  We'll see.  I do know that guys tend to overestimate their sizes on their panfish.  Lots of lakes 9-10" gills are actually 7.5-8.5".  

I've caught 3 gills over 10" and another at 9 3/4" through the ice - all from the same lake.  Quite honestly, I haven't ice fished it the past 2 winters and I kept 2 of the 10's (biggest 10.5") and the 9 3/4" for a mount.  The ones for the mount were caught in winter of 2010-2011, and I got a 10.25" that I released in 2012.  Since then, I've become educated on how important size structure is for the gills, so I started releasing gills over 8.5" and keep 7-8.5" for meals.  Unfortunately, I can't find my pics of them on the tape measure, so these would have to do.  

Panfish size? photo by markrazzy
8/5/16 @ 7:11 AM
PRO MEMBER User since 6/22/01

I live in the Madison area.  10 inch gills are still somewhat rare, except on Mendota, and even that lake most people that say they caught a 10 inch bluegill didn't actually measure it and it was more like a 9 inch bluegill.  I fish the Madison chain quite a bit and have caught one bluegill over 10 inches.  It measured 10 3/4 inches and I caught it on Kegonsa.  After a few pictures, I released her back into the water. (see one of the pics, attached).  Big bluegills in that lake, but not numbers.

If I ever get one bigger than 11 I might have it mounted.  That fish will probably be dead from old age soon anyways.

Of all the lakes I've fished in my life, the Madison chain has produced the most 9 inch bluegills I've ever caught, but still the average size is 7 1/2 to 8 inches.  On Monona you can catch 8 inch bluegills all day long.  That lake is a panfish factory! Still, anything over 9 inches I let go.  

Displaying 31 to 45 of 51 posts
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