The Bluegill is an interesting species under the sunfish family umbrella, active mostly at dusk but easily found year-round. They populate most of North America and, if you’re curious about how to catch these guys, check out our tips on gear, habitat, and tackle.
What is a Bluegill?
The Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) is a freshwater fish in the sunfish family known for its great taste and attitude. Despite its small size, they put up a good fight on the other end of the line. They’re small enough not to require heavy or cumbersome gear, but big enough to be a fun catch and a decent meal if you catch two or three.
Why is it Called a Bluegill?
Bluegill are also known as bream, or sunnies. But they get their most common name from their coloration. They have deep blue and purple coloring on their face and gill area. This makes them an attractive fish on top of being fun to fish for.
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What Type of Fish is a Bluegill?
Bluegills are connected to quite a few families and groups in the angler’s world. They’re known as sunfish as well as perch-like fish, due to their spiny fins. They can also be considered panfish, the perfect size for frying up in a pan. This is a carnivorous, freshwater species that is also sometimes used for bait!
This fish is known for hiding out among vegetation, so keep that in mind when looking for the perfect habitat. They love shallow water in lakes and ponds, but can also be found in rivers and streams. Bluegill will look for logs and other natural underwater structures to use as cover. They prefer water in the 60-80 F range and stay out of direct sunlight.
Where Can I Find Bluegill Fish?
Of all the sunfish, Bluegills have one of the widest ranges in North America. They can be found along the east coast down to Florida, west to Texas, into northern Mexico, northwest to Minnesota and back east to New York. They are so popular that they’ve also been introduced in their non-native North American areas and in other countries such as South Africa and Asia.
What Do Bluegill Eat?
These fish have a varied diet. They’ll feed on insect larvae, water fleas, miniscule freshwater crustaceans, other small fish, mayflies, dragonflies, zooplankton, crayfish, worms, snails and much more. This is obviously great for fishermen as they can use a variety of tackle and bait and likely still get a hit.
How to Catch a Bluegill Fish?
Due to their diet, Bluegill will go after a wide variety of lures and rigs. They’ll jump right on live bait such as worms or insects, but do just as well on artificial rigs. Some fan favorites include Mule Donkey Tail Jr. (smaller size for smaller fish), soft plastics that mimic bait fish, and hard lures like Reben Minis.
Keep in mind that they don’t have huge mouths and, despite their enthusiasm, don’t need to be hooked as hard as other fighters. You should be focused on attracting them with bait. Check out the options below for some of the best Bluegill lures.
Best Bluegill Fishing Rigs?
Mule jigs are versatile, ultralight jigs that are perfect for multi-species fishing. We suggest this rig for Bluegill because it’s light enough not to tear through their lip when you start reeling in. The design of this jig allows it to sit upright in the water and give you the perfect bait setup to hook that fish.
Spinners are a great option for drawing attention, and in the kind of habitat Bluegills frequent, that’s important. You want your lure to stand out against the vegetation; a spinner will do just that for you.
Micro Drop Shot
Micro drop shots are another ultralight rig that’s great for the Bluegill’s size and power. You’ll have enough sensitivity to really play with the rig and get the fish’s attention, but this rig will hold up against multiple bites and uses as well. Drop shots line up your bait at the depth you’re looking for and make finding the school easy.
Float Rig (with live bait or artificial lures)
Float rigs are a perfect fit for Bluegill habitat. They allow you to avoid sticky situations like rock outcroppings or tangled vegetation, as well as floating or submerged logs. Float rigs work a bit like the classic bobber, but we find them to be more effective with a variety of bait and lures.
Best Bluegill Fishing Lures?
Mule Fishing Donkey Tail Jr
The Donkey Tail Jr. is popular for a reason. It’s a micro bait setup that comes in a variety of colors and a durable plastic. You’ll get multiple uses out of this lure and they pair well with other tackle like Mule Jigs.
Mule Fishing Mule Minnow
Mule Minnows are a classic. They’re a great addition to any tacklebox no matter what you’re fishing for. These minnows are realistic, made in a soft plastic that can still withstand several bites. Check out the 2.2 and 1.2 sizes for Bluegill, as they’re on the smaller side and need something to bite onto.
The Wee-Craw is just a stunning piece of lure work. These are extremely realistic examples of crankbait, and they mimic crawfish–and their actions-perfectly. You’ll be sure to grab attention from any fish in the area with this bait. Check out the color options for what you think will stand out best in the water sources near you.
What kind of Gear Do You Need for Bluegill Fishing?
When fishing for sunfish and panfish like the Bluegill, we always suggest going for ultralight fishing options. That means a decent rod, spinning reel, abrasion-sturdy but light line, and a decent set of lures and live bait to see what they’re hitting on that day.
Packing ultralight is also a great idea for fishermen who like to travel their water sources and get knee-deep in the environment. Ultralight gear won’t weigh you down and you’ll find yourself energized for a full day of fishing.
What is a Good Bluegill Fishing Kit?
Leland’s Lures Panfish Magnet Kit
Leland’s Lures kit is a must-have for anglers going after panfish of any species. It includes 70 split-tail bodies and 15 hooks the perfect size for Bluegills.
What is a Good Bluegill Fishing Rod?
13 Fishing Defy Silver
The Defy Silver is a lightweight, flexible rod that can still handle a fight from flighty fish. It has a simple but effectively constructed body and pairs well with many spinning reels.
What is a Good Bluegill Fishing Reel?
13 Fishing Source K Size 1000
The Source K 1000 is an all-star spinning reel, lightweight due to the graphite body and stainless steel handle. According to many happy customers, this reel “casts like a dream.”
What is the Best Fishing Line for Bluegill?
Berkley’s Trilene Sensation line
2-4 lb Trilene Sensation line not only lets you feel every sensation at the end of your line, it’ll also hold up against those species who give a bit of a fight coming in. This line is lightweight enough to make lures look realistic, but tough enough to last in rugged surroundings.
When do Bluegill Spawn
Depending on where they’re located, Bluegill will spawn from May to August. “Peak” season is usually in June, when waters reach anywhere from 67-80 F. Males will create beds in shallow water and cluster together in small communities. Males will also protect the eggs once the females spawn. Females are looking for males that stand out; anyone larger, usually. It’s easy to see why the they have such a wide range, as females can lay as many as 100,000 eggs!
What is the Lifespan of a Bluegill?
Bluegills are considered mature at 4 years old, and on average reach 5-8 years. However, Bluegills aged at 11 years have been found.
What is the Average Size of Bluegill?
On average, a Bluegill will reach 4-12 inches in size. As stated earlier, that’s the perfect size for panfish and catching them on the larger side gets you more meat!
What is a Trophy Bluegill?
In the southwest, any Bluegill over 10 inches is considered trophy size; throughout the rest of North America, the general consensus seems to be that 12 inches or larger is trophy size.
What is the World Record Bluegill?
It’s been a while since someone caught a record-size Bluegill. The record fish was caught in Ketona Lake, Alabama and recorded by the IGFA (International Game Fish Association) at 4 lbs, 12 oz and 15 inches long. T.S. Hudson of Birmingham was the lucky fisherman.
Are Bluegill Fish Good to Eat?
Yes, Bluegill are considered some of the more delicious fish in the sunfish family. Though on the smaller side, Bluegills are some of the best tasting freshwater species. They have less of that “fishy” taste and, depending on what kind of water source they’re caught in, can have a flaky, mild flavor. Unfortunately one fish probably won’t be enough for a meal, so you’ll need anywhere from 2-5, but many fishermen love eating Bluegill.
What Size Bluegill is a Keeper?
A “good” size Bluegill is the average size; about 7.5 inches. Anything more is considered an impressive catch (and good eating!). However, fish on the smaller size are a great way to introduce your kids to fishing, and these fish have that little bit of pep that will make for a fun experience.
Is Bluegill the Same as Crappie?
No, Bluegill and Crappie are not the same fish. They’re totally different species, although they both fall into the sunfish and panfish families. The easiest way to tell them apart at first glance is by coloration. Bluegills have that blue-purple sheen around their head and gills, and Crappies are usually green. Bluegills also have a more rounded body, while Crappies will have larger mouths.
What Is a Hybrid Bluegill
One of the most notable hybrids when it comes to the Bluegill is simply called the “Hybrid Bluegill.” Pretty self explanatory, but if you’re wondering, the Hybrid is a cross between a Bluegill and a Green Sunfish.
These hybrids are much darker in coloration and overall, less rounded in shape. Unfortunately Hybrid Bluegill often don’t reproduce successfully and need to be re-stocked if desired in a certain water source.
What is a Good Size Hook for Bluegill?
The best size hooks for Bluegill will be #8s and #6s. These hooks are very close in size, but can be affected by the size and weight of your jig, so keep that in mind. A hook of either size will catch fish easily.
What is a Coppernose Bluegill?
Some people may think the Coppernose is a hybrid species, but it’s actually a subspecies of the Bluegill. These fish are differentiated from the main species by their copper or cream-colored bar pattern across the nose. Darker bars along their sides and yellow/white areas around their fins will also give a Coppernose away. Coppernose are native to central and southern Florida as well as some areas south of Georgia.
What is the Difference Between a Bluegill and a Bream?
This is the same exact fish, just a different name they go by. Those in the north and midwest tend to stick to Bluegill; the south calls these fish breams.
What is the Difference Between a Bluegill and a Sunfish?
There isn’t really a difference, as Bluegill are part of the sunfish family.
What is the Difference Between a Bluegill and a Shellcracker?
Bluegills are slightly smaller than the Shellcracker. Shellcrackers can be easily identified by the red-orange opercular flap near their “ears”.
What is the Difference Between a Bluegill and a Pumpkinseed?
Surprisingly, Pumpkinseeds are more colorful than the Bluegill as they have an orange and neon-blue coloration that appears in bands from the nose and mouth area. A good way to tell the difference between a bluegill and a pumpkinseed is they also have a bright orange underside.
What is the Difference Between a Bluegill and a Green Sunfish?
Bluegill and Green Sunfish are sometimes confused for one another, but are different species. Green Sunfish have larger mouths than the Bluegill as well as red edging on the opercular flap. Bluegill, on the other hand, have black edging on the opercular flap. They’re also a more obvious blue-green, whereas green sunfish are darker in color. The are also often confused for rock bass.
What is the Difference Between a Bluegill and a Warmouth?
Sometimes confused for each other, Bluegill and Warmouth are two different fish in the same family. Both are sunfish, but have key distinct difference between the two. Size, anal and dorsal fin spines, and coloration.
Whether you’re looking for a good eating fish or a fun little fish with some fight, the Bluegill is a treat. They can be found throughout much of the US and are probably right outside your door!
Best Bluegill Lures Guaranteed to Get More Bites
Looking for the best bluegill lures to catch more fish? Check out the list and find one to help you land your next big bluegill slab!
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