Bluegill provide a June feast

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June 7, 2002

Charlie Farmer,Springfield News Leader

Bluegill provide a June feast

If you think that bluegills are just for kids, you may want to check out the action on Table Rock Lake in June.

Don’t fret if you never heard of this June bite. If it wasn’t for Bill Anderson, Missouri Department of Conservation fisheries biologist in Springfield, I would also be in the dark.

A few years ago Bill and I sampled the bluegill bite near Indian Point and Table Rock State Park. After stopping at a tackle and bait shop to buy live crickets, we launched the boat for the short ride to my friends honey hole.

Light spinning rods and reels are ideal for this type of fishing. Four-pound test monofilament works the best.

Bill used the electric trolling motor to position us in water depth from nine feet to 17 feet. We were not fishing out in big water. On the contrary. Thirty or 40 yards away there was submerged vegetation in the form of button brush and other aquatic plants as well as flooded trees.

Bill caught the first two bluegills, handsome colorful fish that were bigger than I had seen in a while. However, he turned both fish loose. He told me that we should catch larger fish than those.

Then it was my turn. I caught my first bluegill, a fish about the size of my partner’s fish.

My partner stuck with live crickets. I experimented with a one-inch soft plastic brown grub that has been successful for me in many applications. As it turned out, my first cast with the grub landed the type of bluegill that we had hoped for. This was a fish that fought hard. When I pulled it out of the water I was amazed to see how large it was.

I had plenty of grubs in my tackle box and offered my partner one. After good fishing for bluegill during several outings with his wife and two daughters recently, he was reluctant to abandon live bait. As it turned out, we both fared well with our own bait. We stayed in one spot and began to catch the big bluegills that Bill told me about.

In the book “The Fishes of Missouri” by William L. Pflieger, the author writes that bluegill occur in natural waters over most of Missouri. They reach their greatest abundance along the flood plains of major rivers and in steams of the Ozark border.

The requirements of the bluegill are very similar to those of the largemouth bass, and where one species is abundant the other is likely to be abundant also.

During midday the fish remains in deeper water or in shade or overhanging trees. In early morning and again in the evening it moves into the shallows to feed.

Bluegill begin nesting in late May, somewhat later than bass. The nesting can continue into late or August. Usually the spawn peak is in June. Almost any type of bottom may be used for nesting, but gravel is preferred. Nests are usually in water a foot or two in depth.

The largest bluegill on record is a 4-pound, 12-ounce fish caught in Alabama.

The bluegill bites readily on a variety of small baits, both natural and artificial. Crickets, grasshoppers, and worms work well. Fly fishing with small poppers, wet flies and dry flies are also effective, especially near dusk on warm summer evenings.

There is no limit for bluegill according to the Missouri Fishing Regulations.

We made it back to Ozark and Bill’s house at 2 p.m. We emptied the bluegills in a tub with cold water to clean them. Bill sharpened a fillet knife and would fillet like a surgeon.

As for fillet of bluegills a day later, they rival the best of fresh fish.
 

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