John's Journal...


Click to enlargeHow 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 catching bluegills.

Click to enlarge"He 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.

Click to enlargeTucker 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. Click to enlargeBut 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.




Check back each day this week for more about BOTTOM-MOP FOR BIG BLUEGILLS ...

Day 1 - How To Find The Biggest Bluegills In Any Pond Or Lake
Day 2 - What Tactics Work For Bottom-Mopping
Day 3 - Catch Firecracker Bream With Outer-Space Technology
Day 4 - When I Sent The News North And Double-Dipping 'Gills
Day 5 - Difficult Bluegill Problems And Eight Keys To Taking Them

John's Journal


Entry 255, Day 1