Spawning bluegill fishing, - Big fish being released. Bluegill fishing is a great way to spend an afternoon or weekend. It is also certainly one Bluegill worm and bobber fishing of the most fun fish to catch. Whether you are a brand new fisherman, or a seasoned veteran, everyone loves to catch bluegill. They are easy to catch, easy to clean, and are not particularly picky.

Bluegill also fight really hard for their size, do to their saucer like shape. They are among the most widespread fish in the US. Almost every pond, lake and river have a great population. They also happen to be one of the best fish to eat. They are very easy to fillet and clean. They will readily eat dry flies, wet flies, lures and many types of live bait. They are certainly not picky eaters! Chances are you already have something that the bluegill will eat without heading to the tackle shop. I have even caught bluegill on bread and a few occasions on hot dogs!

Fishing for bluegill is most effective using a bobber and a night crawler or leaf worms. One of the most exciting things I can think of is watching the bobber bounce. The anticipation builds, because you just never know what size and species of fish is hitting.

If you have children that need to learn how to fish, the bluegill is the number one fish to go after. When you take kids bluegill fishing they will surely catch fish, this will keep them interested long enough to gain an appreciation for the sport. Once they catch the fishing fever they can then graduate to other more difficult fish to catch.

It’s always bluegill season in the US, so its time to go out and catch some fish! Located near you there is a pond or lake that is brimming with these aggressive eaters. They will soon be spawning or breeding in most of the United states, making them a very easy target. Look for the polished up bluegill beds in the shallow water.

Getting Kids Hooked on Fishing

Taking kids bluegill fishing is a great way to get them hooked on the sport of fishing. Frankly, bluegill are so easy to catch and they are so plentiful, you are sure to hook fish nearly every trip. Learn more about taking kids fishing for bluegill here.

Lures for Bluegill Fishing

The bluegill are not exactly picky eaters. That’s a good thing for you and I, and a bad thing for the bluegill. The number one lure for my fishing for panfish has been just a small little jig. Bluegill like to eat just about every color of lure. Dependent on the coloration of the water, I find that black is a #1 draft pick for my fishing. If the water is stained a black lure will usually show up really well. The Bluegills eyesight is not keen, so it will need to be able to see your lure well. If you cannot see it in the water the bluegill won’t be able to either. In heavily stained water I tend to gravitate towards a chartreuse color. This is one of the brightest colors available. The neon orange is also a great color to use in really dark water. In crystal clear water the most natural colors tend to be the best such as browns and blacks.

The tube Jig

The tube is my favorite type of jig used for the bluegill. It just so happens I prefer toTube jig for bluegill fishing use it for bass as well, But the tube is a really easy jig to use. You simply buy (or mold your own) jig head hooks to insert into your lure. These are the small jigs that look like squids. they are hollow and can either be rigged weedless (Texas rigged), or standard where you slide your jig head inside of the tube. This will put the weighted head inside of the bait, leaving the hook on the outside for easy hookups.

Inline spinners

Mepp’s spinners or panther martins also work really well for bluegill in warmer water. They tend to get somewhat lethargic in really cold water and are not likely to chase down a fast moving lure. But in mid summer in warm water they are very effective. The smaller panther martins have always been my best producer. They come in every color imaginable, but my personal favorite is white or gold. The beetle spin will also attract large bluegill and crappie. These are all great bluegill lures that everyone should have in their tackle boxes.

Small Crankbaits

A tadpole shaped crank bait lure for bluegill.Many smaller lipped style crank baits will produce large bluegill consistently. These lures will easily sort through a school of bluegill and only hook the largest fish. Smaller fish will simply not be able to get their mouths around the treble hook. As you can see in the image below this small tadpole has been good to me throughout the years. I don’t know if the fish think it is a small fish or actually a tadpole, but it has worked well. I have found many other styles work well also; I am particularly fond of chartreuse or bright yellow baits.

Other soft plastic lures for bluegill

Another favorite of mine are the small fake wax worms and maggots that are available at nearly any tackle shop. You can use them just like real wax worms under a bobber, yet they tend to stay on your hook better than a live one. Berkley gulp makes a few great soft plastic lures that have a great strong scent. These can be used as an alternative to live bait. They seem to be nearly as if not as good as the real thing. They sure tend to have a more “potent” smell than actual live bait! Just plain twister tail grubs also work really well and can be bought out of bulk bins at most tackle shops for 10 cents each. Using these lures you should have successful fishing for bluegill all year long.

Bluegill Fishing Baits

Bluegill fishing baits

Vicki Timman

The Bluegill is not a picky eater, therefore there are a variety of bait types that will be effective for them. Depending on your location you should be able to easily gather your own bait for your fishing trips. I will go over the bait options and you can decide what you would like to use from there. (Read more here about the best bluegill bait types).

nightcrawlers bluegill fishing bait


Night Crawlers

The night crawler is easy to find and cheap to buy in nearly every city in the US. You should be able to buy a dozen of so for under a few dollars. They tend to last quite a while, because they can be broken into multiple pieces. They are easy to find as well. You should be able to turn over a log or rock and easily find a few night crawlers to use. Learn how to raise your own nightcrawlers here. Raising your own can be a great way to save money and you will always have a large supply of bait on hand.


These are another very easy thing to find. You can find leaf worms, by either turning over rocks and such or raking a pile of partially decomposed leaves down to the bare dirt. They will be there and can easily be gathered for your fishing trips. These tend to be hard to keep on the hook. You will have to use a light wire type hook in order to effectively fish with these.

Wax Worms

waxworms for bluegill fishing

photo: ramendan

These are pretty cheap to buy or order online. They have the added attraction of bright white color. This can sometimes be the key to getting the attention of the bluegill in stained water. These are simply the larval form of beetles.


minnows for bluegill fishing

photo: Joel Deluxe

These can be purchased from a bait shop by the dozen, or caught by you using a seine or minnow trap. They are very effective at certain times and can often mean the difference between a good day and a great day. You will need to use minnow that are rather small for bluegill. They don’t have huge mouths and will sometimes shy away from larger minnows. Sometimes these are the best bait for bluegills.


Raising crickets for fishing or pet foodCrickets are a tremendous bait for bluegill, fortunately they are very easy to raise and will stay alive for a long time in between your fishing trips. Learn how to raise crickets here.

Fishing for Spawning Bluegill

bluegill bed fishing

by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region

The first thing on the bluegills mind in the spring is finding warm water. They naturally go to areas that will warm up first. Every lake tends to have a particular cut, bay or side channel that warms up before most of the other parts of the lake. This will generally be the place to first have good fishing in the spring after ice leaves.(if you have ice) The warm water will surely encourage the bluegill to congregate and make them easy targets. Beds for bluegill are usually easy to see. There are several ways that identify beds easily. They will fan out a spot in the area and make it brightly colored compared to the surrounding area. you will also usually be able to see the bluegills actively defending their breeding area. This active defense of the bed is the bluegills weakness,it is easy to exploit!

Keys to Successful Bluegill Bed Fishing

The first key is to make sure your lure or bait is obviously in close proximity to the bed. The bluegill won’t attack your bait if it is not a threat to the bed they are defending.

  • Make your lure or bait move in a manner that will encourage the bluegills natural defense. If you find one that is playing hard to get you will need to place your lure directly on the bed. Even if the bluegill is temporarily frightened keep your lure there, because it will come back eventually. Once it returns simply shake your lure a bit to get its attention. If the fish has reason to believe the lure is eating eggs it will without a doubt strike. Now I don’t promote the keeping of bluegill from beds. Honestly you should immediately release them before their eggs fall victim to predators.
  • Use Polarized Glasses The bluegill will be 100 x easier to spot under the surface of the water with polarized lenses in your glasses. You can buy a 10$ pair of cheap polarized anywhere. They work pretty good even the “cheapies”. Also if you are fishing without any eye protection you should reconsider. People go blind all the time from fishing accidents. Final tip: Enjoy your bluegill bed fishing! It is a great time of year to enjoy the outdoors.

Spawning season of the Pumpkinseed sunfishBluegill Spawning Conditions

The Spawning temperature and preferred breeding areas of each species of panfish vary slightly. The graph below will show you the areas where you are likely to find spawning fish of your desired bluegill and sunfish species. Some types prefer different bottom materials and different depths than others. Some are likely to spawn in as shallow as 6″ of water, while other will generally make beds in much deeper water with different bottom types.

Species Spawning Starts (avg. Water Temp) Preferred Spawning Bottom Type Bed Making Water Depth
Species Spawning Starts (avg. Water Temp) Preferred Spawning Bottom Type Bed Making Water Depth
Bluegill 69 Degrees F. Sand or fine Gravel 1-3 feet depth
Redear sunfish 68 degrees F. Softer type Bottoms Often Near Water lillies 1-3 Feet Depth
Pumpkinseed Sunfish 68 degrees F. Sand or Fine Gravel 6″ to 1.5′ depth
RedBreast 68 Degrees F. Sand or gravel 6″ to 1.5′ average depth
Warmouth 70 degrees F. Smaller Rocks with a light silt covering 1.5′-4.5′ deep
Green Sunfish 71 degrees F. Gravel 6″ to 1ft. deep
Longear Sunfish 72 degrees F. Gravel 6″ to 1ft. deep

Spawing bluegill in a Michigan lake

Note the fine gravel pebbles on this pumpkinseed sunfish bed. It has fanned off all of the sediment and debris to allow the water to bring oxygen to it’s eggs.

Rigging a Bluegill Rod

In order to be at peak operating efficiency its imperative that your bluegill fishing rod be set up in a certain way to be able to detect strikes and cast small lures properly. Here are some pointers to accomplish this.

  • Use a lightweight rod If you are using a heavy stiff rod and trying to cast small lures you might be having some difficulty. There is a logical reason why all hardcore bluegill fisherman use ultra light gear. In order for the weight of the lightweight lure to flex the rod and “load” it while casting, it will have to be quite limber. Trying to cast a 1/16oz lure with a broomstick is ineffective and will never give you the distance you desire.
  • Using lightweight line By using small 2-6 lb test line you will be able to cast much further than you would with 12# test. The weight of the line will be too much wind resistance and drag in the air to effectively cast. Of course you probably already knew this, but You might be surprised at some of the rigs I have seen people using. Another tip to ensuring great distance while casting is to fill your reel up till it is almost totally full. On a spinning reel if you have only a small amount of line on a large capacity spool you will be getting an extreme amount of friction when your line is attempting to leave the reel. By putting the proper amount of line on the bluegill fishing reel, you will be able to cast even the smallest and lightest lures significantly further.

More Bluegill and Panfish Info