Otherwise known as Bream, Brim or Copper Nose; Bluegill is the freshwater species Lepomis Macrochirus of the Sunfish family Centrarchidae. They are natives of the United States and have been introduced into Europe, South Africa, South America, Oceania and Asia; as well as all over the world. A highly invasive species, they have caused havoc to the environments where they have been introduced and are largely considered pests. These aggressive fish can be caught with a variety of methods and are the perfect introductory fish for youngsters and beginners, as well as fantastic bait for big game fish. In Florida, they can be found in all freshwater habitats and are thrilling to catch. They bite easily, are abundant and put up an immense fight for their size.
On their gill rakers, bright blue edging is clearly visible. This is the defining characteristic of the Bluegill and the reason for their name. In addition to this, there is a dark spot on the base of the dorsal fin and also on the posterior edge of the gills. A dark shade of blue appears on the side of their head and chin and their breast and abdomen is yellow in color (except in breeding males when the breast is bright orange instead).Their deep flattened bodies are laterally compressed and they have ctenoid scales, terminal mouths and their lateral line arches upward in their anterior. Although not always visible, there are between five and nine vertical bars on the side of the body. There are three anal spines on the Bluegill, with between ten and twelve anal fin rays. There are between six and thirteen dorsal fin spines and eleven or twelve dorsal rays. There are also twelve or thirteen pectoral rays. The biggest Bluegill on record weighed 4lbs and 12oz and measured over 16in. They usually range in size from 4in to 12in.
In the shallow waters of Florida’s lakes and ponds, you can find Bluegill in abundance. They also congregate in the slow-moving water of streams and rivers. These fish are prey for many larger species and they prefer to hide where there is an in water plants, weed beds, fallen logs or other protective structures. To avoid fighting for food, adults will move into deeper water during the summer months. Although Bluegills enjoy warmth, they will move deeper if the sun gets too hot. As with other prey fish, schools provide safety in numbers. They prefer swimming in large groups and these schools often consist of other panfish such as crappie and smallmouth bass.
Adult Bluegills feed on aquatic insects and larvae such as those belonging to mayflies, dragonflies and caddisflies; but they will also prey on snails, leeches, smaller fish and even freshwater crayfish and crabs. They will eat practically anything. Night crawlers and wax worms are devoured, as is vegetation when food is scarce. If they can find nothing to eat, they will even dine on their own eggs and juveniles.
These fish are fast and can change direction speedily. Highly adapted to sense changes in water pressure and vibrations, they are tricky to sneak up on. They rely heavily on their sight for foraging food, which is why it is best to catch them in daylight. Their mouths are small, which means they have to take a huge gulp to suck in their prey. Here are some tips to help you catch Bluegills in Florida:
Tackle for Bluegill
Bluegills are small and a 2lb test line will work perfectly unless you are fishing in heavy cover. If that is the case then a 4lb or 6lb line will be better. Use extremely small hooks as their mouths are tiny. An ultra light spinning rod and reel is ideal.
Bait for Bluegill
These aggressive fish will bite on anything. Live bait works best but lures and flies can be used easily as well. Even bare shiny hooks can work because they use their sight for hunting and are attracted to shiny visible objects.
Techniques for Bluegill
These curious fish will put anything in their mouths. Here are some tips on the various ways to catch Bluegill in Florida:
- Bait such as a small worm on a hook is by far the easiest way to catch these fish. Crickets and mealworms work too. Simply put them on a tiny hook and fish them under a bobber. The bobber will tell you when you have a bite but if the water is clear you should be able to see the fish coming quite clearly.
- Flies that resemble the insects in the area are highly effective. Drift them above or ahead of the fish and they will likely take it. Slow-moving currents are ideal for fly fishing Bluegills.
- Lures work fantastically as well. A plastic mini-jig of any color should catch these fish. Fish jigs extremely slowly at the depth the fish are at. Twitch them occasionally to detect any nibbles. Plastic worms and plastic drop shots are known to target the bigger fish, but you will unlikely catch as many.
Call today to book your Bluegill Fishing Charter in Florida and be introduced to the world of fishing.