This is what I’ve been waiting for.
After cleaning out my tackle boxes, respooling my reels and preparing the boat, there’s nothing like the feeling of finally pulling up on a bed of bluegills with a box of crickets. Across southern Indiana, the bluegill spawn is in full swing.
You have about two more weeks before it should start to subside.
If you are a serious pan-fisherman, then you know there is nothing like the bluegill spawn. When hoards of big, aggressive bull bluegills gather in the shallows to fan out beds for the females and to guard the nests once the eggs have been laid, pan-fishermen get giddy. This is the time of year to fill the freezer with sweet, succulent filets.
During the spawn, bluegills are aggressive defenders of their nests. They’ll hit just about anything you drop on them. They’ll take worms, beemoths, dry flies and poppers on the surface. But for the most intense action, drop a cricket on them that slowly sinks.
Bluegills bed in large numbers. Once you find a spawning location, chances are you won’t have to move for quite a while. Look for bluegill beds in the shallows near the back of bays, among stump beds, along weed lines and beside brush piles. Also, boat docks in bays are a premier spawning locations.
Many fly fishermen target these hard-fighting, pan-friendly, tasty fish during the spawn. For anyone who has ever wanted to begin fly fishing, bluegills are a great species to cut your teeth on. Fly fishing is easier than most think. The normal perception of fly fishing is that it’s reserved for mountains and trout. This is simply not true. There might be nothing more fun than targeting bedding bluegills with fly-fishing equipment.
Terry Wilson, a Missouri-based fly-fishing outdoor writer who co-authored the book “Bluegill Fly Fishing and Flies,” with his wife, Roxanne, developed a pattern he named the “Bully Spider.” The Bully Spider is a fairly simple pattern, consisting of only chenille for the body and two pieces of round rubber for the legs. They key, though, is a light wrapping of thin lead around the hook shank. Just the tiny bit of lead produces the right rate of sink.
Bluegill can’t stand it as the fly drifts down toward them. Fish with these or something similar.
Once the water temperature begins to push into the upper 70s and hits the 80s, usually around the first or second week of June, bluegills will retreat to cooler water, which equates to deeper or shade-covered water. An angler’s best bet for bluegills during the warmest months will be to target water shaded by overhanging trees and to look for fish under docks. Especially docks outfitted with brush piles.
Take advantage of this shallow water action while you can. Some of the best waters in southern Indiana to pursue spawning bluegills are Monroe Lake, Patoka Lake, Lake Lemon, numerous strip pits of the Greene-Sullivan State Forest, Yellowwood Lake and West Boggs.
See you down the trail.
Brandon Butler’s outdoors column appears Sundays in The Republic. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.