Bluegill Fishing 101: How to Catch Bluegill

Bluegill fishing resembles the starting point for many anglers. You’ve probably caught some yourself as a kid if you’ve ever gone on a fishing trip with your dad.

While experienced anglers like to catch more challenging and bigger fish species, there’s no denying that many still like to catch bluegill fish for a pan full of tasty filet.

Just like other panfish treasures, bluegill fish is small, and it’s much easier to catch than many other species, but you may occasionally end up with a less-than-expected quantity. 

However, with a few tips and tricks, you’ll get a much higher yield at the end of the day. 

1. Choosing the Right Bait

Selecting a suitable bait for Bluegill fish is a crucial step to catch some successfully. No fishing techniques will work if you don’t choose a bait that the fish will actually bite. Here are some of the most popular bluegill bait choices:

Choosing the Right Bait for bluegill


Earthworms are a great all-round bait for catching bluegill, and they’ve been the number one go-to choice for many anglers. Some of the popular earthworm species like nightcrawlers and red wigglers are favorites of bluegill trouts. 

And the best thing about this bait is the wiggle that happens when they’re hooked. This drives the attention of bluegill trouts, allowing you to catch a ton of them. Just make sure to keep them alive using the proper techniques.


Minnows are a popular classic fishing bait, not only for bluegills, but for all fish species. However, they’re slightly more expensive to buy than worms. Alternatively, you can catch some minnows yourself with traps or nets, but you need to keep them alive if you want them to be more effective.


While bread looks a bit artificial, it makes an excellent bait for any small panfish. It’s very cheap and readily available anytime and anywhere. All types of bread will get the job done, but the white, bleached toast is preferred because it’s soft and easy for the fish to bite. 

Just attach a small piece on the end of the hook and chum it, and you’ll easily catch lots of bluegill fish. You can also use it to catch baitfish like minnows if you prefer to use them.


Crickets are highly effective in catching bluegills, and they aren’t a pain to handle like other types of baits. Moreover, they’re cheap, and you can find them in almost all bait shops. 

It’s recommended that you get a cricket cage if you’re planning to use crickets in the long term. Temporary cricket containers will cost you a lot of money in the long term, so it’d be better to just invest in a high-quality cricket cage, and it’s super cheap anyway.


Grasshoppers are an excellent bait choice for bluegill. They’re actually more effective than crickets, and you don’t even have to buy them since you can easily catch some in any garden. 

The problem is that you won’t always have time to hunt for grasshoppers, which’s why crickets remain a more convenient option, but it’s good to know that there are some bait choices that you can get for free when you run out of bait.

Wax Worms

It’s always a good idea to have some live wax worms in your bait staple. Wax worms work best for bluegill fishing under the ice. They hold up quite well at extremely low temperatures. Just make sure to store them at room temperatures and avoid letting them freeze when fishing. 

2. Use Light Bobbers

One of the most well-known methods for catching bluegills is the bobber and worm technique. It’s so easy that even kids can master it. The idea here is to use a small and light bobber, just enough to float the bait. 

While using sinkers can be effective for some fish species, they aren’t so useful when fishing for any type of panfish, including bluegill. This is mainly due to the fact that bluegill fish don’t like it when they feel resistance after biting the bait. The fish will just feel that something is wrong, and it will release the bait.

Approach the bait very slowly because bluegills are just too lazy to chase their food, so no need to rush here. This technique is ideal when the weather is warm in spring and summer.

3. Pick the Right Timing

The best time to catch bluegill fish is the spawn. During the spawn, bluegill fish tend to attach anything that approaches its spawning site, including your hook and bait. You’ll easily catch a ton of bluegill fish during the spawn. 

However, in the shallows, things can get a little trickier. Bluegill fish in the shallows spook easily, making it harder for you to catch. That’s why you need to go really slow and quiet. Your best bet is to use a fly rod hooked with some artificial flies. This way, you can catch some bluegill fish on the outside beds without causing a disruption in the inner nests.

During the rest of the year, bluegill fish could be anywhere, and it all depends on where its food sources are. It could be found in large clusters in open waters. Non-spawning bluegills can be found at any depth, depending on the time of the year. 

For example, during summertime, you’ll find bluegill fish at very deep levels on big lakes. On the other hand, they’ll be closer to the surface of the water in small ponds.

As for the best time of the day, early morning, and late evening would be good. Panfish like to feed at these times of the day, so it makes sense to introduce your baits during that time.

4. Check Out Farm Ponds

You may find this a bit surprising, but farm ponds are usually abundant with a considerable quantity of big bluegills. The water in these ponds is usually clear and unpolluted, which’s why bluegills prefer to live in them. Farm ponds are also considered a safe habitat for bluegill fish away from potentially threatening creatures in rivers and lakes.

5. Find Deep Waters for Bigger Bluegills

Fishing in deeper water will certainly help you catch larger bluegills. Find waters with depths that range from 9 to 17 feet, and you’ll find those big bluegills biting your bait. However, it can be tricky to find the exact depth where the fish is. Consider investing in a fish finder as it allows you to determine the exact location of the fish.

6. Use Smaller Hooks and Baits

Bluegill fish have tiny mouths, even the large ones. That’s why it’s crucial to pick a hook size that will fit into their mouths. As a general rule of thumb, a hook size of anything between size 6 and size 10 is recommended. 

Moreover, you should also use baits that are smaller in size. You don’t necessarily have to use a full bait to fish for bluegills. For instance, if you are using a worm bait and the worm is too long, you can use a piece of it (just enough to fit the end of the hook).

7. Ice Fishing Tips

When fishing for bluegills, it’s critical to pick tiny hook and bait sizes. Bluegill fish don’t feed as much in winter as in other times of the year, which is why a smaller bait would work better in this case. 

As we’ve mentioned earlier, wax worms are considered the best bait for bluegill ice fishing. Just make sure to pay close attention to your bobber’s movement because bluegill bites are less aggressive in winter.

Final Thoughts

Fishing for bluegills is fun and usually not that complicated. It’s a good way for novice anglers to practice some popular fishing techniques, while advanced anglers may like to take a break from targeting massive fish species and fish for some bluegills for a change.

Just keep the above tips in your mind and experiment with them until you determine the right combination of bait, technique, and time that works best for you.

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