HOOK AND FUR
By Bob Brown
One of the most overlooked freshwater game fish is the bluegill. Because of their small size, it never has received raving reviews from the media, and some anglers view it as a trash fish, but the bluegill is a scrappy little fish that can provide some pretty intense rod action, and often is the first game fish beginning anglers are introduced to.
Bluegills are not difficult to catch and will attack just about any type of bait thrown at them. Dry and wet flies, pieces of corn, small crank baits, spinners, American cheese, maggots, small frogs and earthworms are typical baits used by anglers. They mostly bite on vibrant colors like orange, yellow, green or red, chiefly at dawn and sunset
The bluegill ranges in size from four to 12 inches, and reaches a maximum size just over 16 inches. The largest bluegill ever caught was four pounds 12 ounces in 1950. The largest bluegill caught in our state weighed two pounds 31 ounces and was caught in Tampico Park Pond in 1984.
Bluegills prefer shallow waters with many aquatic plants, and hide within fallen logs or water weeds. Not surprisingly, many lakes in our area meet those criteria. In the summer, adult bluegills move to deeper water to avoid food competition, and tend to have a home range of about 320 square feet during non-reproductive months. They enjoy heat, but do not like direct sunlight. Although they usually live in deeper water, they will linger near the surface in the morning to stay warm. Bluegills are usually found in schools of 20 to 30 fish, which often will include other pan fish. It seems bluegill have no fear of humans, eating food dropped into the water, and in Canada’s Lake Scugog, some bluegill allow themselves to be stroked by human observers. Bluegills also play an important role in pond and lake management. They keep crustacean and insect populations low, and a single bluegill can eat up to six times its own weight in just one summer.
One of the methods used when fishing for bluegill is to arouse the competitive spirit of the fish by throwing baits repeatedly and rapidly into the same spot. Not spooking the bluegill is another method. Many anglers believe all bluegill are stupid and fail to avoid scaring the fish. Standing up and banging around in the boat is a no-no, and people fishing from the bank should never walk directly to a bluegill’s bedding area. They should stand back, getting no closer than casting distances to the fish. Bluegills have a lateral line system, as well as inner ears that act as receptors for vibration and pressure changes. They also rely heavily on sight to feed, especially when foraging.
TANWAX, HARTS AMONG HIGH-BLUEGILL LAKES
Tanwax, Harts among high-bluegill lakes
Many local lakes such as Swofford Pond, Tanwax and Wapato have good populations of bluegills, perch and smallmouth bass. Harts Lake is also one of those lakes and has been producing excellent catches of all three species.
Harts Lake Resort and Deli are under new management and are being updated. Owner Don Wells said, “We are open seven days a week and are here to serve the public. Breakfast and lunch are available at our deli. We also have boats for rent and a fishing dock open to the public. Overnight camping sites are also available.” For more information, call 360-400-1386.