Pond Hoppin' - Bluegill Poppin'
With warming water temperatures, local ponds and small lakes will soon be lurking with some of the greatest adventures you can find on light tackle, namely, the beastly little bluegill.
by Dennis Udlinek
A friend of mine once said "If you ever caught one of these mighty morsels of power on topwater using a light action fly rod you would probably give up more traditional forms of flyfishing!" Well, he was right about one thing - there is nothing like catching "cast for cast" bluegill on light line for making a good arguement for converting to light tackle. It seems that every pond has a new and challenging experience just waiting to be discovered.
I enjoy the early morning topwater pursuit of bluegill action at each and every new pond. This time of year not only brings forth these feisty little fish but an abundance of wildlife as well. Ducks are clamoring along the shallows looking for food while the geese have already nested amongst blackbirds perched high atop cattails in full song. Muskrats are busily chewing on fresh willows as a nearby killdeer's shrilling protest wakens the whole community.
Not too many folks in Idaho stock these little denizens of the deep. Even less seem to give much respect to these little power houses, but I can guarantee one thing: there are as many places that a person can go to enjoy bluegill fishing as any other gamefish, and most don't have to travel for hours to get there. Probably one of the nicest gifts a person could give to themselves would be regional maps and information on accessible ponds and small lakes that can be reached in just minutes from their own homes. Most regional Fish & Game Offices have information on public accesses called "Family Fishing Waters" to good pond fishing in their areas.
One of the plans of the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game is to create additional accesses for pond fishing to include the handicapped along with the general public. This is a part of the F&G's ongoing Urban Fisheries Program that has added a growing number of new ponds where you can fish for anything from steelhead, trout and bass to crappie and bluegill.
The other nice part about fishing in nearby ponds for bluegill is the savings from less travel to the simple and inexpensive fishing tackle needed. It only requires a light action rod and a pair of old tennis shoes. In most cases you can wade around the shore near cattails and willow trees for some great action. Always use caution when wading, some shorelines drop off quickly and you can find yourself "in over your head!"
All you need for tackle is a couple of small poppers or foam bodied spiders; a light action 6 foot fly rod coupled with an inexpensive fly reel, light lined to a 2 (6X) pound tippet, and you're in business.
Plant yourself near a cove where vegetation like cattails surround the bank, cast near the shore, and hold on for some fun filled hours of "cast for cast" topwater action.
Casting with the wind helps with light tackle and it sets up your approach with the fly. Bluegill usually hang out in the backs of coves this time of year, especially if a light breeze is blowing into the bank where there is some willows or cattails. The small wave action brings in food and the cover shelters the fish from the direct rays of the sunlight where in shallow water they are likely getting ready to spawn. A well-placed popper or foam spider can trigger strikes on every cast. Which brings to mind, what are you going to do with all the fish that you catch?
We hope you use sound "catch and release" ethics by "keeping only what you need and returning the rest" to scrap another day. Whatever your experience while doing a little pond hoppin', remember to "take out what you bring in," and keep the area around these scenic little fishin' holes clean for everyone to enjoy.
Best Books on Bluegill:
Bluegill Fly Fishing and Flies
Catch of the Day
Copyright 2001 by Spring Creek Communications