Skip to content

Panfishing 101: How to Catch Bluegill

Most if not all anglers got into fishing when their dads gave them some bait and they caught their first bluegill. Some people stepped up the game and moved into catching larger species but tons of anglers of all ages still target smaller panfish such as perch, crappie, sunfish or bluegill. It happened to be so that bluegill is probably the most common in North America so it is the most known. Bluegill can be super fun to catch and can fill the plate full of tasty fillets. So, instead of spending the entire day to catch a couple of bass or walleye, you can always get tons of bluegill from literally all waters: ponds, lakes or rivers!

What is Bluegill: 

As we mentioned, it is considered one of the most popular panfish in North America, and it can be identified by the length of its pectoral fin. If the fin extends beyond the fish’s eye when folded towards its mouth, the sunfish is usually a bluegill. They are also known for the dark blue spot (ear) that covers their gills. Body colors are dark olive-green on the black and sides with yellow or orange breasts and bellies.


Bluegill’s mating cycle can last almost forever running any time from late spring even into the beginning of fall depending on location. Scientists have noted that they can potentially spawn up to nine times a year. 

They tend to see for the firmest bottom available when spawning but can spawn on anything from silt to rocks, so you can find them almost everywhere. Bluegill build circular nests on the bottom in the cover. Most of them can be found 1 to 4 feet deep except clear water where spawning beds can be at 10 to 15 feet. On larger bodies of water, spawning bluegill can be found 2 to 7 feet deep in the pockets along the banks. This fish prefers to nest on mud or rock banks and tend to hold next to some type of cover. 

Now let’s finally get to catching them!

Catching them during the spawn:

Bluegill can be extremely aggressive and strike at anything that invades its spawning site. However, you will often won’t be able to hook it up as it tried to carry something away from the site. In order to avoid this kind of situations, use smaller size baits and hooks. Something like Dagger 1.6” or Larva 1.6” with S57 #8 hook will do the job! 

Despite their aggressive behavior during the spawn, they can spook very easily making catching them a challenge. We recommend using fishing lures that you can present quietly in order to avoid flushing the fish from the nest. This means them lightest tackle possible with 2 to 6-pound test fishing line. 

In most cases, weightless presentation of our Larva will guarantee you fish. It will descent naturally, and all you need to do is to slightly twitch it to get fish’s attention. When it comes to colors we recommend using a combination of naturals (brown, junebug, olive) and bright colors (yellow, chartreuse, white).

Iurii’s rule of thumb is: “Bright sun – use a bright colorful lure, and do the opposite when it is gloomy”.

Catching them during the rest of the year:

During the rest of the year, their habitat varies depending on where bluegill find their food source. So it can be anywhere from open water traveling in large schools feeding on plankton and emerging insects or tight to wood cover or vegetation along the banks where fish feed on invertebrates. 

They will also be holding at various depths, so a set of different jigs ranging from 1/28 to 1/4 oz jigs or jigheads is a must have. On larger reservoirs during summer bluegill will be in deeper water but they will always remain shallow in ponds due to oxygen depletion that occurs in depths over 10 feet. 

Bluegill fishing is a popular target for ice fishermen in the wintertime. Plastic worms and insects are the best bait for taking bluegill under the ice. You can also catch plenty of bluegill while ice fishing with small jigs, artificial flies, and tiny spoons.


The secret to catching big fish:

Bigger fish usually hangs around deeper so you might need a heavy jig or split shot in order to drop the bait to those “monster” as fast as possible. As for the baits, passive baits up to 2.5” resembling insects and worms will probably be the best option but a small swimbait like our Boxer 2” or Classic 1.7” might get you bigger and more active fish.

While bluegill inhabit nearly all waters throughout the country, the largest fish seem to come from farm ponds which receive less fishing pressure. So, develop a good relationship with a pond owner, practice catch and release or try to sneak onto a closed pond to maximize your chances of catching bull bluegill.

Panfish Box from Fanatik:

If you are looking for panfish tackle and don’t want to waste your time and money, take a look at our Panfish Tackle Box which contains literally everything you need to catch panfish. You will get a variety of baits which will be enough for at least this summer with correct size hooks as well as jigs in order to cover literally all the presentation you will ever need to catch bluegill. All you need is a fishing rod and spooled reel

comment 1 comment

justin calendar_today

need a new mfg of our soft plastic lures

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published