It’s fall and big bluegills are on the prowl. The heavy “thunk” followed by the powerful circular resistance put fall bluegills at the top of their list, says Dave Genz and Jason Mitchell, two of the finest bluegill anglers around. It starts with a plan.
When it comes to bluegills, think weeds. But not all weeds. With temperatures dropping, “junk weeds” as Genz calls them, die off and he looks for the green, standing weeds. However, he also prefers to scout with his Vexilar Scout Underwater Camera when scouting new locations.
“By spinning the camera around, I can tell if the weeds are supporting fish”, he says. “I may not see the fish immediately, but I know the green weeds are the right weeds.”
Mitchell agrees, “I really like deep coontail especially on sharp breaks.” On a new lake, he’ll troll a #3 or #4 Salmo Hornet searching for active fish before slowing down. “Big ’gills will come out of the weeds after a Salmo. Add a split shot about three feet in front of the bait and troll about 1.2-1.3 mph.”
Jason Mitchell prefers pulling small crankbaits like the Salmo Hornet when searching for active fish. Then he’ll slow down and pick the structure apart with a small hair jig dressed with live bait.
On clear water lakes, deep weeds can mean depths of 18 to 20-plus feet. In stained waters with shallower weeds, start searching near the deepest water in the immediate vicinity.
In addition to weeds, Genz and Mitchell look for a depression located on a flat that is deeper than the surrounding water because bluegills often hide beneath predators like pike and muskies.
Finally, if weeds no longer provide protection, Genz uses his locator to find suspended bluegills using the water depth as their cover.
Dish It Up
Both Genz and Mitchell use 4-pound test and a float system with a tiny jig. Genz uses a 12-foot pole because he doesn’t have to cast and fight the weeds in the wind. By placing the jig (tungsten) with the long rod he can move it when the boat moves without changing the jig’s position. He prefers a rod with a good “backbone in the first 8 feet and an ultra-light tip.
Mitchell also likes a float and a small hair jig. “The float and jig is killer when the water cools down. The fish get attracted to the float when you pop it across the surface kind of like saltwater corking for red fish.”
The same concepts apply to hybrids and other sunfish subspecies as well. The big ones feed heavily during the fall cold-water period.
Artificial or live bait? Yes! Both anglers suggest varying the way the plastic is threaded on the hook: around the shank and straight off the end, or sliding the plastic halfway on the hook for a different look and movement.
Live bait such as Gulp! Euro Larvae or wax worms work very well. Stick with fresh, lively bait.