Searching Out Springtime 'Gills
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.
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.
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.)
Fishing is Key
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
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
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.
Some for the Pan
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.