Bluegill sunfish are the most widely distributed panfish in North America. They are members of the same family (Centrarchidae a.k.a.Sunfish) as the largemouth bass. These colorful fish are well adapted to living in ponds, lakes, streams and even brackish water. Bluegill are often the primary food source for largemouth bass and other predators.
They rarely exceed 1 pound with 1/4 – 1/2 pound (7″ – 9″) being typical. Bluegill usually have a black spot or blotch near the base of the soft dorsal fin and a black flexible tip on the gill cover. The back and sides are dark green or brownish. The breast and undersides may appear yellow, red or orange. Males in the breeding season usually have a dark red to mahogany colored breast. The sides of the fish usually display a series of vertical bars, more prominent in smaller fish. The gill covers and chin are bright blue, giving the bluegill its name. Bluegill sunfish art is extremely popular mostly because the fish are so attractive and well respected.
Bluegill Sunfish Techniques
Most people started fishing as youngsters for bluegill and other panfish. Bluegill, ounce for ounce, fight as hard as any freshwater fish. Bluegill are fun to catch and make excellent table fare. Catching bluegill is common event throughout spring, summer and early fall. Some hardly anglers fish for bluegill while ice fishing.
Anglers target bluegills primarily with ultralight equipment or fly gear. Leaders in the half-pound to 3-pound class are common. However, new nearly invisible fluorocarbon lines and leaders allow for slightly stronger line to be used.
Baits for bluegill include crickets, mealworms, waxworms, redworms, earthworms, nightcrawler chunks and maggots. When using worms, be careful not to put too much bait on the hook, as bluegills are accomplished thieves. Some anglers target larger bluegills with live minnows or other large baits.
Bluegill lures include crappie jigs, ice tick jigs, microjigs, small spinnerbaits, small spinnerbaits, small grubs, small tube jigs, and miniature soft plastics. Fly fishing works great for catching bluegill. Anglers use a dry fly, nymph, panfish popper flies or terrestrial flies. Popular terrestrial fly patterns include crickets, grasshoppers, foam spiders, and ants.
How To Clean Bluegill Sunfish
1. Scale the fish with a fish scaler or dull knife. While holding the fish with one hand, use the tool to remove all scales. You must run the scaler or knife from tail to head in order to get the scales off. The skin should be smooth when all scales are gone.
2.Cut the fish’s head off. make the cut at the back of the fish’s gills. Cut through at this point.
3. Cut from the belly back to the vent, avoiding all organs. Remove all organs, saving the fish roe if any is found.
4. Cut off the tail and fins.
5. Rinse the fish and place on ice immediately.
The author is an outdoor enthusiast, web designer and writes content for several outdoor websites including Chincoteague Island Virginia, Virginia Saltwater Fishing and Fresh Seafood.