Bluegills Gaining in Popularity
Inside the Outdoors, June 20
, 2014

Before I get into the subject of the day, I want to make mention of the many deer tracks that have been spotted in the Latrobe Community Garden on the corner of Virginia St. and Irving Avenue across from the small playground in Legion Keener Park.
According to one gent who yearly plants his tomatoes in one of the rectangular plots, footprints of these animals have been noticed up to six inches deep, a scare to the whole community of planters.

A fence surrounds the corner growing area. Last year a tree was removed to allow plenty of sunshine to shine its rays upon the growths of the varieties of plant life. The intention of that metal protective device is to keep rabbits out of the area.

However, if deer are entering in place of the rabbits, planters may have to go to extra length to make sure they get the produce they desire.

And just the mention of rabbits, not to also bring up the subject of squirrels, both species are disappearing from Legion Keener Park due to the red tail hawks. Upon the arrival at the Latrobe Farmer’s Market recently, I noticed close to a dozen of these birds hovering above, swooping down and gliding above the park area with anticipation of wiping out all small game leaving nothing for visitors to enjoy.

I contacted Tom Fazi, information and education supervisor of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and he told me these birds as well as all owls are federally protected. In reference to Legion Keener Park, he stated, “If the prey wouldn’t be there, neither would the birds.” I have only to add, “If the animals aren’t there, maybe the people with their children wouldn’t be there either.” In other words, a drawing card would be missing from the table.

And now to the subject matter at hand…

It is truly a fascination how many writers for different publications are writing about the subject of bluegills and ways to catch bigger sizes of this aquatic species. Recently in the May/June issue of the Pennsylvania Angler and Boater, there is an article written by Jeff Knapp titled, ‘Summer Panfish Tactics.’
At one time it was a fish that children would bait their breath in catching and leave the other species to adults. But not anymore.

For instance, there in a photograph displaying a sportsman holding an enormous bluegill caught with a stickbait, no less, a lure often used for many other species. It just goes to show one that many types of lures will catch a variety of different species of fish.

Jigs are also popular for catching large bluegills. Knapp said, “Small versions of underspin jigs like the Roadrunner, as well as one sporting chatter-style blades, are effective tools for searching out crappies and bluegills.”

In the past, when writing about noise creating lures, the subject matter centered around catching bass. Now it is learned these devices may be used in catching ‘bigger’ smaller species as well. To many who love eating this fish, this information provides a broader challenge to angling enthusiasts.

Farm ponds have always been a popular breeding place for bluegills. Close to 40 years ago, when I married my wife, my father-in-law would take me to a farmer’s pond where we would fish together. He would always state, “I’ll show you how to fish and clean them. Then in the future when we go out, it will be your job to clean all fish caught.” At first I obeyed so as to keep in good graces as a worthy son-in-law, but then was happy he showed me, for now it’s no big deal and a lesson well learned.

Knapp suggests one take an aggressive approach when fishing for bluegills. That is a new chapter in my book and one of which I will look forward. It may be worthy to try such lures as made by Leland, Rapala and Yo-Zuri. Who knows, the latter makes a jerkbait that suspends when paused and dives to two feet on the retrieve. This company even manufactures a popper that sprays water on the retrieve. Now, doesn’t that sound like something that may interest larger bluegills that may be looking for a meal to satisfy their hunger pangs?

May I suggest Kelly’s Annealed Rubber Worms. They have a smaller version of their larger plastics that are very good for enticing bluegills to indulge in ‘good-eating.’

If one doesn’t want to take the route of lures, piece nightcrawlers on number 8-sized hooks, barbless if possible. I state that because removal is simple for unwanted fish.

Bluegills make an excellent meal, often overlooked. If the bait is properly presented, one will catch nice-sized bigger species. Now is the time to fill one’s bucket.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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