Fish Beat: Bluegill begin making return to shallow waters
By Jim Hagerty
With half of August gone, big bluegills are starting to come out of their dark roosts of summer into mid-depth water. After the hot season, some return to spring spawning beds while others hang near fallen trees, brush and weed beds.
A bit different than the often-effortless angling of spring, late summer and fall, bluegill fishing takes a bit of doing. In most areas of the Midwest, pools about 10 to 12 feet deep are often striking zones for palm-sized fish and hours of fun.
Often deadly bait presentations through the end of September are slowly-worked live fare such as grubs, worms, small minnows and leeches. In late-summer and fall holes, big bluegill are suckers for dark-colored jigs (1/32 to 1/16 ounces) bounced off the bottom.
Water is often clear and shallow near beds where late-summer spawners are easy to spot. Casting over bed colonies, moderately-working small spinners and live bait back toward shorelines usually attract the fat, territorial males while they protect their eggs.
Local fishing report
Bluegill fishing has been significantly slow, and has almost identically mirrored bass behavior in some places through July. So far, August has heated significantly, and it appears there’s still plenty of pan fishing left before winter. Weather-permitting, bluegills will be most active on early-morning and dusk-hour trips.
With water levels up and a fairly nice balance of rain, water levels are acceptable-to-excellent in some spots, causing the bass to behave normally. The stir has caused bait fish to move, providing favorable conditions for walleye and northern pike. Cats (flats and channel) have been steady, while deep-water sheephead (freshwater drum) are hammering cutbait, crayfish and night crawlers in spots of the Rock. While certainly not a popular menu fare, nor are they glamorous. If it’s a fight you want, however, a sheephead will battle like a carp and run like a muskie.
Send us your fishing photos
The Rock River Times is interested in seeing pictures of local fish caught in area waters. Send digital photos to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Fish Beat Photos” in the subject line. Glossies can be sent to The Rock River Times, 128 N. Church St., Rockford, IL 61101.
From the Aug. 19-25, 2009 issue