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Bluegill fishermen can be productive

August 13, 2003

I don't ever want to see a bluegill or a filet knife again.

At the last monthly bluegill tournament on Wilgreen Lake, I made the mistake of telling the contestants if they didn't want their fish I would take them. Keep in mind that for the contest a limit is defined as 30 fish, each of which must be a minimum of 6 inches long.

All the entrants limited out during the 5-hour tourney. And all of them gave me their fish. .

Sure, I now have a freezer full of fish, enough to take care of our needs at least through the end of the year. But, more to the point, it shows how productive serious bluegill fishermen can be. Six inches is by no means a shabby fish (most of them were larger than that). Thirty of them is quite a mess.

Last week I wrote about the three primary baits for bluegill. Just to review, the number one bait is a black pop-eye jig, tipped with a waxworm. Second is crickets. These are both fished, right now, about 3 feet below the smallest bobber that will support them.

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In each case, cast the bait to a likely locale and let it sit. Every once in awhile, give the bobber a slight twitch. The idea is to have it move slightly, without changing location in the water. Too heavy a movement will spook any bluegill eyeballing the bait. But a very slight movement can encourage him to hit it.

Red worms rank as least in importance to waxworms and crickets. But they're fished a little differently. You want to put them on the bottom, with just enough weight to carry them down.

Whatever your choice of bait, you want to fish the shade lines. Basically that means fishing eastern shorelines in the morning, and western shores in the afternoon. You can catch bluegill in the sun, but mostly you'll take smaller ones.

While most successful bluegill fishermen use live bait, there are many who prefer artificials. There are several important ones.

High on the list is the Flutter Fry spoon. There is no commercial source of them. You have to make them yourself. The Flutter Fry is based on the little-known idea that bluegill are cannibals, who will eat their own young. The spoon capitalizes on that.

To make them, take some #10 or #12 hooks. Long shank hooks work best if you can find them. So do ring-eyed hooks. You'll also need an opened soda can.

Measure the length of the hook shank, from the eye to where it just starts to bend. Cut the aluminum from the pop can into squares each of which is that size.

Fold one of the squares in half, around the hook shank, with the hook in an upwards position, and crimp it in place with needle nosed pliers. If the two halves flare out, use a drop of quick-drying epoxy to hold them together.

What you should have now is a hook that faces upwards, with a rectangular keel below. Trim the keel into an ovoid shape, slightly tapered toward the hook bend.

You can use the spoons this way, or modify them slightly. I like to paint a blue median line the length of the body, and add a painted eye. Some marabou feather tied in at the hook bend also lends appeal.

Fish the Flutter Fry the same way you use waxworm-tipped pop-eyes. That is, under a small bobber that you occasionally twitch. Two or three of these spoons fished off one line often make them more effective.

Sponge rubber spiders are another very effective bait. They're available in both floating and sinking models. I've always had better luck with the sinking ones. You can fish them on a flyrod, as they're intended. Or you can use a bobber to provide casting weight for a spinning rod. Here, again, used the smallest bobber feasible. I often use porcupine quills, painted orange or yellow, for this purpose.

A variant of the sponge spider are chenille spiders. You have to tie these yourself, but they're easy. All it takes is chenille in the appropriate colors, and rubber legs. I start by tying the chenille in at the tail position, then advance the thread to the center of the hook. The rubber legs are tied in their, in an X pattern. I then wind the chenille to the hook eye, and back to the center, where it's tied off.

Last but not least, have you ever used a snake to catch bluegill? An old man taught me this trick years ago. You start by killing a snake, and hanging it in a bush over the water. Then go home, and tie up a bunch of "rice" flies. These are merely hooks covered with a wrapping of white wool. A pile of them look like a spoonful of rice.

Three or four days later come back, and cast the flies toward the hanging snake. The flies resemble the maggots that will have been falling into the water, and big bluegill will hit them with abandon.

By the way, if you're interested in the Wilgreen bluegill tournaments, they're held the last Sunday of each month from 7 a.m. until noon. For details, call Wilgreen Lake Marina at 859-623-1881.|8/8/03***

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