Winter Bluegills

Rick Bramwell

Winter Gills

Thoughts from the Forest: Winter Bluegills

This time of year I enjoy watching football and basketball on TV. I root for the Colts and all college teams in my state. I like the big rivalries no matter who they are. There were a lot of games on the tube Sunday afternoon. It was raining and I had the fireplace radiating out to my recliner. I dropped the leg support on the Lazy Boy and grabbed a rain suit from the closet. It was time to chase some winter gills.

I drove to a local pond where there was no protection from strong wind and pelting rain. With the breeze to my back, I began casting a 1/64th ounce Muey Jig under a weighted bobber set about five feet deep. The only thing I was catching was slimy globs of algae. The previous Friday, I drove 100 miles to catch one big bluegill. That one bite came at the end of the day in but three feet of water. On my way home, the thought came to me that perhaps the fish were just under the surface.

During winter bluegill will be in deep water. Usually, near the dam in late December. I wondered, “Could a couple of warm days with rain pull them out of their winter lair?” In the 12-acre Owen County lake, there were still a few water spiders on the surface, a favorite food of bluegills. I moved to the shallow end of the pond and set my bobber at 14-inches. I was reeling against the wind. The waves lapped over the bobber making it difficult to see in the low-light conditions. winter gills

On my next cast, the bobber ducked and stayed down. I set the hook; 9-inch class bluegill gave my seven-foot Fenwick ultra-light rod and 3# test Berkley Fireline a great challenge. Several more nice-sized bluegill followed. After getting a larger bobber from the truck, I tried fishing the same area casting into the wind. This did not work. Perhaps, my offering was moving too fast with the wind or it just jigged in a different manner. Casting into the wind also caused my line to wrap around the bobber.

Before leaving, I had to know if the fish were drawn to the incoming water or if the same bite existed on the deep end. Because the surface area was warmer. My query was answered. Standing on the pier, I cast to the deepest part of the pond-bingo! The bluegill was at that same 14-inch depth. I even caught a bass.

I was tipping the little jig with dead wax worms (all I had) but they also like Berkley Gulp Alive Waxies.

Look For Winter Bluegill In Deep Water

One or two degrees will draw fish to a warmer temperature. I’m not sure that is always true. At first ice on one local reservoir, fish are taken from safe ice in protected bays from five feet. Surely, the water in 12 or 15-feet would be warmer. In this case, it seems the bluegill run, on average, smaller than the ones caught over deep water once the entire lake freezes.

Who had the better Sunday afternoon? Me fishing in the rain or you watching the Colts get destroyed by Jacksonville?

My only mistake was not keeping any fish. I wanted time to flip that fireplace switch and watch Indiana University basketball.

Read More Rick Bramwell

About Rick Bramwell 37 Articles
Grew up in rural Indiana fishing farm ponds and hunting woodlands. Bramwell has been writing outdoors for 48 years. He harvested the record typical whitetail for his county and hunts rabbits with his beagle Tramp. He fished bass tournaments, including Red Man, until 1989. Bramwell has put together an ultra-ultra light system for catching panfish that mostly involves tight-lining a small jig. He attended college at Indiana State and Anderson University. Bramwell has two sons in their 50s, Brian and Gregory. A daughter Jourdan age 27. His greatest memory: fishing trout, salmon and halibut in Alaska. Bramwell's passion, apart from the outdoors, has been coaching high school age fastpitch softball.

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