As we eased the boat into that tiny cove on a crowded lake, the children made their first casts. The bobber did not have time to settle on the water’s surface before it plummeted downward. Within seconds the first fish of the evening was on, and my friend’s young son grinned ear to ear. Some things simply never get old, and bluegill fishing in the summer is one of those things. Seeing the grins and hearing the giggles and shrieks of children as they wrestle these spunky little fish in never gets old either. It means they are happy and enjoying the outdoors.
Bluegills are often one of children’s first inductions into fishing and the memories made can be priceless. But as adults, we still never lose our affection with the feisty bluegill and sunfish we so often spent our childhood years catching. The reasons vary — it takes us back to younger days spent with family and friends; their tasty filets get mouths watering; or, plain and simple, they are just fun to catch. Pound for pound, bluegills put up as much or more of a battle than any fish out there.
Bluegills can generally be easy to catch as well, especially right now as they move into shallow water to spawn. It does not cost much to get into the action, either. An ultralight action rod and reel and a handful of tackle are all one needs to get started.
Live bait such as bee moth, wax worms, crickets, red worms or nightcrawlers work well. All can be fished suspended a couple of feet under a bobber or simply dragged on the bottom. Small artificial lures like flies, jigs and spinners will also yield plenty of action.
Another great thing about bluegills is that they can be found almost anywhere, from small streams to large rivers and small ponds to large lakes and reservoirs. Sometimes, catching fish is only half the fun. Throughout the evening, my friend’s children would shift their time from fishing to playing with the bee moth and crickets. At other times, they were content to simply place the fish we kept into the livewell. They enjoyed every aspect of the experience.
To this day, every time I go bluegill fishing I am thrust back a few decades to the days when my father and mother took me to the banks of the local reservoir, a nearby river or a neighbor’s pond where we spent the day reeling in bluegills and anything else that would bite our hooks. I can also still taste those meatloaf sandwiches Mom packed. Those were the days, and I get a little bit of that feeling back when I take my own son or the children of friends out for an afternoon of bluegill. One does not have to always make elaborate plans to some far-off destination chasing elusive bass or walleye to have an enjoyable day. It is amazing how sometimes such a little fish can leave such a lasting impression.
Even now as an adult, every time I set the hook on of those spunky, feisty little fish, the excitement is just as real and amazing as it was years ago when I was a child.