BOTTOM-MOP FOR BIG BLUEGILLS
To Find The Biggest Bluegills In Any Pond Or Lake
Editor's Note: You don't have to go to private ponds
in the South to take monster-sized bluegills. You may
find Goliath-sized 'gills right under your nose where
thousands of anglers fish every year. Many of the best
bluegill hotspots never see an angler because most of
us have believed that bluegills bed only on the banks.
However, I've learned if you want to catch this scrappy
panfish that fights hard and tastes delicious, learn
to fish offshore on deep-water structure. This week,
I'll tell you the best summer tactics for finding and
caught 20 bluegills that weighed a total of 30 pounds,"
Danny Wiles of Birmingham, Alabama, said of his friend,
David Tucker, as we feasted on bluegills that weighed
over 1-pound each. When I asked David Tucker of Birmingham
where he caught bluegills of that size and he answered,
"Oak Mountain State Park," I almost fell out
of my chair. This park's two public-fishing lakes lie
no more than a 20-minute drive from downtown Birmingham
in the middle of one of the South's most heavily-utilized
state parks. On almost any weekend, you'll see from
10 to 50 people fishing in these lakes. To obtain heavy
weights, bluegills must survive long enough to grow
to the older-age classes, which I believed an impossible
feat in Oak Mountain State Park's lakes. "You didn't
catch those bluegills in those lakes," I told Tucker,
who smiled and said, "Meet me out at Oak Mountain
next Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. when you get off work. I'll
show you." On the appointed day, I showed up with
my ultralight rod and reel and 4-pound-test line. As
we fished, wide-sided bluegills pretzeled my rod almost
to the breaking point.
and I began fishing 50 yards from shore with a small
Beetle Spin jig with a black body and chartreuse stripes.
"Let the bait fall all the way to the bottom, and
then start a slow retrieve back to the boat," Tucker
instructed. "The biggest bluegills in any pond
won't hold on the bank. They'll be away from the bank
on some type of bottom structure like a ledge, a hump,
a drop-off or a point. When you locate bottom structure,
you'll find big bluegills." Tucker uses a portable
depthfinder to pinpoint structure on new lakes. He cruises
the middle of a lake looking for bottom breaks. Usually
the bluegills will remain on top of a break but holding
close to it in the same places where you'll find bass.
Often if you locate a hump or a mound out in the middle
of a lake, the bream will bed on top of the mound.
Tucker catches big bluegills throughout the spring
and summer because he spends the necessary time studying
bottom structure from his johnboat with his portable
depthfinder. Most bluegill anglers fish along the shore
or in spots where they traditionally have caught bluegills.
seldom do they explore the deep-water portion of a lake
to find giant panfish. Tucker also has pinpointed a
honeyhole in Lake Purdy, another public-fishing lake
less than 30 minutes from the downtown area where the
city of Birmingham gets a portion of its water supply.
Thousands of anglers fish this lake each year, primarily
from the bank or from small aluminum johnboats they
can rent at the lake. "I've found an underwater
hump near the dam that comes up to within 6 feet of
the surface," Tucker reported. "Thirty-foot-deep
water surrounds this hump. During the summer months,
giant bluegill will bed on top of that hump and stay
there until fall."
To find big bluegills in deep water, borrow a page
out of a bass fishermen's deep-water tactics book. Bass
and bluegills will hold on the same structure. Where
you normally find the biggest bass in a pond, you'll
also locate the largest bluegills. The strategies bass
anglers use to pinpoint underwater structure in major
reservoirs will produce big bluegills in small ponds
and lakes. Few other bluegill fishermen would put their
boats in 30 feet of water and expect to find bluegills.
However, when Tucker found the hump, he discovered a
bluegill hotspot that few, if any, anglers had fished
and caught some of the biggest bluegills in the lake.
TOMORROW: WHAT TACTICS WORK FOR BOTTOM-MOPPING