Ontario Fishing Network - Fishing Lodges - Fishing Tackle - Fishing Gear

Ontario Fishing Network

Volume 7,  Issue 3 - March  2007

Searching Out Springtime 'Gills
By Justin Hoffman

The spring heralds in new beginnings for those in the fishing fraternity. Making the change from ice gear to open water tackle and from portable huts to fishing boats feels like a time of renewal. And for many, taking that first cast for walleye or pike has become a rite of passage as the season unfolds before us.
But what about the saucer-shaped 'gills that flood the shallows during this time, eager to bite and hard fighters to boot? These guys hold a favourite place in my heart, and promise steady and excitement-filled action while easing you into the summer period.

Location is Key
Spring and early summer signifies the spawning period for bluegills, and will usually begin when the water reaches a temperature of 67 degrees F. Depending on your provincial location, the particular week or even month can be varied.

As the spawning urge grows strong, 'gills will congregate in shallow water, oftentimes in large groups. These areas are most often sunny back bays, with a firm sand to silt bottom and sparse vegetation and wood strewn about. The water they prefer is clear, and depth will generally range from one to four-feet deep.

Nests are easy to locate, and resemble a six to 12-inch saucer-shaped depression.
Once fish flood the shallows, they become very aggressive and fairly easy to catch. But intersecting the spawn can be hit and miss, as the window for action usually lasts only a couple of weeks.

Fish can be found in the shallows before the spawn actually takes place, gathering and schooling in ultimate preparation. I've stumbled upon groups that numbered in the hundreds, but this was only possible by carefully checking the lake and seeking out areas that held the right ingredients. (The largest schools I have found came last year on a lake in Ottawa, during the first and second week of May.)

Sight Fishing is Key
One of the most exciting aspects to 'gill fishing is the reliance on your vision. Sight fishing is the name of the game for catching these fish, yet comes into play the most in terms of locating them. Cruising along shallow bays while scanning for schools of fish, or the tell-tale nests, is the number one weapon you have at your disposal. Once a productive area is located, identifying the biggest fish and casting directly towards them is your best bet.

Sight fishing allows you make visual contact with the fish you intend to catch. It will up your catch rates, and put an exciting aspect into your day. Spawning largemouth will often be shallow at this time of year, yet not in season. This style of fishing will keep the largies away from your presentation.  It goes without saying that a quality pair of polarized fishing glasses should always be worn.

Tools of the Trade
Ultralight gear is paramount for success when targeting bluegills. Choose a rod between 5.5 and six-feet in length, with a spinning reel that sports a smooth drag. In terms of line, four-pound test clear mono will do the trick.

Various lures will work well for 'gills, but I've found that small jigs produce best. Tinsel tail, tube jigs and curly tails all work well, and micro size is key. I tend to choose the lightest jig I can comfortably cast, which give the most natural fall through the water.

Slip floats should be part of your arsenal, especially when fish are low in the water column. For fish cruising just below the surface, go with just the jig.
Bright-coloured lures seem to attract the most attention, with gold, silver, white and pink being excellent choices.

If you really want to add an element of excitement to your day, toss mini-cranks for some explosive topwater action. Not only is this a good choice if they begin shunning the jigs, but it can really get the heart pounding. Always cast cranks a few feet past the fish, then bring your lure towards it. Casting directly at fish will generally spook them.

Keep your trolling motor on the lowest speed when working these areas. A push pole will also do the trick while keeping your approach ultra quiet.

Keep Some for the Pan
Not only are bluegills fun to catch, they fight extremely hard on light equipment. Their flat, saucer-shaped bodies are ideal for bulldogging and making quick runs, a quality that always surprises a newbie 'gill angler.

One of the best aspects of this sport is keeping a few for the frying pan. Bluegills are very prolific, so bringing some home with you will do no harm. A slab 'gill can offer up some decent sized fillets, and the sweet taste of this succulent meat will keep you coming back for more. If you have a hard time palming a bluegill, it's definitely reaching slab status!

Take some time this season to scrounge up some 'gills. I guarantee that these guys won't disappoint.

Ice Fishing Perch Pointers
By Tim Allard

Searching Out Springtime "Gills
By Justin Hoffman

Five Things To Try This Season
by J.P. Bushey

Fishing Showcase
Marcum Underwater Cameras!

By Sandy Turk


Outdoor Writing School

Fishing Lodge Classifieds Come fish your heart out at one of our many Lodges, Camps and Resorts.

Archived Articles
Click here to see articles from past E-Magazines

Ontario Fishing Videos
Ontario Fishing Classifieds
Ontario Fishing Lodges