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Fishing Tips for Beginners: Bluegill

Jonathan always has a blast on fishing trips!

Jonathan always has a blast on fishing trips!

Fishing Tips

I’m an avid angler, and I have lots of fishing tips under my belt. I get tips and ideas from various sources – magazines, books, other anglers, and lots of hands-on experiences. I enjoy saltwater fishing the most, but I’m not averse to casting a line into lakes, rivers, or farm ponds, either, for largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, and bluegill. As a matter of fact, I took my grandson bluegill fishing just yesterday. The owner of the pond had warned me that the fish hadn’t been biting, but I’d already promised my grandson a fishing trip, so we went, anyway. As an afterthought, I threw a few bacon strips into the fishing bag, and I’m glad I did! Following are some fishing tips for beginners to use for bluegill fishing, but some will also work for crappie and bass fishing.

Two happy fishermen!

Two happy fishermen!

Sometimes using bacon as fish bait provides a surprise or two.

Sometimes using bacon as fish bait provides a surprise or two.

Our "secret weapon" yesterday was plain ol' bacon.

Our "secret weapon" yesterday was plain ol' bacon.

The little angler brings in another one.

The little angler brings in another one.

A mess o' bluegill.

A mess o' bluegill.

Bluegill Bait

With bluegill fishing tips, the most important might be a good working knowledge of baits. Bluegill aren’t especially picky about what they consume, so there are plenty of examples of bluegill bait that you can try, but the same bait might not work every time. I’ve used natural baits like worms, crickets, bread balls, and small pieces of cut bait. Yesterday, the fish seemed to have lockjaw, however. They wouldn’t hit anything – natural baits or artificial baits. When we began using an unlikely bluegill bait, however, things changed.

I had brought along some raw bacon, in hopes of landing a catfish or two. We didn’t catch any whiskered fish, but the bluegill loved the bacon! It was pretty amazing, really. While the panfish totally ignored our other offerings, as soon as a hook baited with bacon was cast, the fish pounced on it. I think this is probably because the fat in the bacon distributed the scent, calling the fish to an easy meal. There can be some unexpected consequences from using bacon as fish bait, though. You might catch a snapping turtle! Jonathan hauled in one yesterday, and it was not a happy camper.

I suggest taking a variety of baits with you on any fishing trips, no matter what you’re fishing for. Fish can be pretty unpredictable at times, so go prepared. If you offer them a buffet, you’ll have a lot better chance of enticing them. Vary your fishing techniques, too, until you find one that works for that specific time and place.

Fishing jigs are also good for bass fishing.

Fishing jigs are also good for bass fishing.

Our favorite fishing jigs for bluegill and crappie.

Our favorite fishing jigs for bluegill and crappie.

Fishing Jigs

Except for yesterday, I’ve always had good luck using fishing jigs for bluegill fishing. I like the small soft plastics, especially if a little spinner is attached. My favorite fishing jigs for bluegill are Beetle Spins, but any small fishing jigs will work. Sometimes certain colors work better than others, however. I’ve had the most luck with yellow and black Beetle Spins, with the red and white jigs coming in second. I like to keep several different colors and color combinations on hand when I go bluegill fishing. Sometimes when they won’t hit one color, they’ll hit another.

For bluegill, you’ll need jigs that have small hooks, too. The mouths of the fish aren’t very big, and if your hook is too large, you’re going to miss a lot of fish. Make sure your hook is nice and sharp before attaching the jig to your line. Most jigs have a built-in weight in the head, so you might not need more weight on your line. If you do, use a small split-shot sinker. How far above the jig you place the sinker depends on how deep you want to fish. Placing the weight near the jig head will cause your fishing jigs to dive deeper on the retrieve. If you place the weight about two feet above the jig, the jig will remain suspended above the bottom as you reel in.

Beetle Spins aren’t just for bluegill, either. I’ve caught plenty of bass and crappie with them, too. I’ve even caught a few channel cats on them. If you’re fishing for big bluegill, use larger fishing jigs. A Beetle Spin that’s about two inches long, with a split tail, is a good size for big bluegill, largemouth bass, and crappie. If you’re unsure about fishing techniques for these jigs, read on – I’ve included some ideas in my fishing tips for beginners.

Fishing Techniques

Fishing techniques for most panfish aren’t usually complicated. On many days, it’s actually hard not to catch fish. Bluegill can be found most anywhere in a pond or lake, depending on when you’re fishing. Sometimes they’re near the surface of the water, and sometimes they’re near the bottom. They especially like hanging around any sort of cover or structure.

We fished for about an hour around a dock and some grass beds, using natural baits under a bobber. We tried several different depths by adjusting the bobbers on the lines – all to no avail. The fish wouldn’t even look at our little fishing jigs, either. Finally, we tried some bacon, fished right on the bottom, and voila! Jonathan started pulling them in.

On an average day, my fishing techniques for bluegill would comprise mostly of casting Beetle Spins and retrieving them. I suggest varying your retrieve until you find out what works. You might try a quick, smooth retrieve, or a slower retrieve. You might also try reeling in the jig in an up-and-down motion, letting the bait sink almost to the bottom, then jerking it up. This is probably one of the best fishing techniques you can use, actually. It provides erratic movement, which will help get the attention of fish, and it will also allow you to cover several water depths at once.

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Bluegill Fishing Tips

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Norman Coughlan on June 22, 2015:

Pretty valuable tips provided! It’s just perfect for beginners especially seeking some good online info! How to get into this game with the most suitable fishing tackle and techniques would account for everything. Appreciate!

Glen Kowalski on February 21, 2015:

Never tried bacon before. Have to try it if the price of bacon ever comes down a bit-right now it is too expensive to use for fish bait :)

summerberrie on May 23, 2013:

We love to fish! Thanks for these tips. Was planning on writing a hub on surf fishing for beginners. We use to do it quite a bit out at Edisto. Wanted to check yours and Randy's hubs out first to make sure you haven't already written one! It looks like people have already corned the hub market on fishing~ guess I'll just enjoy reading them and learning new things :) Loved your hub on fiddler crab bait. Enjoyed your photos, too!

dinkan53 from India on May 22, 2012:

Nice tips but the main thing to remember is if you catch a fish for just a hobby or catched an unwanted one, don't forget to release it to build the fish population. If the fish is bleeding or the hooks is in the gills or throat then keep it if it is legal. Rated your hub as interesting.

tmbridgeland from Small Town, Illinois on May 20, 2012:

Tried lots of things for bluegill, but never bacon. Have to remember this. Mealworms seem to almost always work, but they fall off the hook so easily they are almost annoying. The lake I fish is very heavily fished,a dn the older bluegills etc are very wary, so you almost always have to try something new to catch much. Lots of fish there, but you can see them nosing your bait and then ignoring it. They know!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on May 20, 2012:

Hi, Holle. So bacon strips work for catching certain fish when other baits fail? Who knew? Thanks for this most important tip.

alliemacb from Scotland on May 20, 2012:

Another great hub. I'm not keen on fishing, but I know a man who is and he'll be interested to read this. Voted up

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