Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bluegill on the Backup Plan

Scouting some area north of my usual stomping grounds I check up on a few ponds that I fished a year ago. Upon arrival I can tell the recent storms have churned up the already stained water. To make matters worse, my waders decided to start letting water in on both sides. Had to pull the bellyboat out, switch clothes and check to make sure I didn’t soak the cell phone for the fourth or fifth time. Shorebang things for a moment while my head starts coming up with a Plan B.

Reach the Plan B spot somewhat late in the morning and see the bluegill are active. Looking several feet into the shallows the commotion was easily visible. Some fish are guarding nests, some fish are waiting to spawn and other fish are darting in and out to eat whatever they can. Upon seeing the active panfish my bass-chasing plan goes right out the window. Quick change up to the micro section and I find myself in Gill-Plink City.
A few of these gills were in the 7-8 inch range. I am sure there might be a few in the 9-10 inch class but wind, lack of boatage and the impending crowds left me with only a few shallow shoreline areas. Getting a first look at this location as well as a few quality panfish is still a good amount of bounty for a backup plan this late in the day. These locations are fairly close to a major city populace so crowd factor is always part of the equation. Now that I have a visual lay of the land my planning can go forward on a Plan A trip for this location. Thick schools of panfish generally mean healthy bass populations and worth another look someday.
Colorado has several species of sunfish. Identification between the various types can be difficult especially with frequent hybridization. Bluegill can be distinguished from other sunfish by the smaller mouths and the dark spot on the outside edge of the gill plate. Other sunfish may have smaller mouths as well but will have a red mark on the edge of the dark dot similar to the pumpkinseed sunfish below.

The gear can be anything micro hook size #10 to #6. Be cautious with smaller sized hooks and larger gills as they will inhale the smaller baits costing time in the removal or harming the fish. I will toss 1\8 to 1\16oz grubs and baby shad patterns ideally on 4lb line. Mainly geared up for bass I made due with the 6lb. This was one moment where I was kicking myself for not brining the long rod. Then we would be talking a complete gill slamfest. 
All in all the trip paid off on a few levels. Having actually brought some backup clothes for once really saved me. The morning outdoor strip down was not part of the plan but the only way to get back in the game. I scouted a few more areas well beyond my normal target range and still caught fish despite many setbacks. It always helps having a Plan B or even C in life as the landscape is forever changing.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.


Cofisher said...

Hey Matt, nice post! I was relegated to gill fisherman also yesterday. I was completely out of my element, but managed to have a pretty good time with the little suckers.

Bill Trussell said...

Nice catch, I use a 7 1/2 ft. micro light from Basspro, for gills, what length was you using. The reason for the long rod for me is the play factor----good post.

Foxyblur said...

LOL it isn't boring, and the photos are great! (And about that ice cream cone thing, AMEN!) lol

Simply Deb said...

Nice pan fish! I love pan fish. I don't mind picking bones at all. I was raised on pan fish and grits, being a southern girl. My aunt lived on a salt water creek, and every morning, she or my uncle would go out fishing so we could have fish, grits and eggs for breakfast. Mostly yellowtails, but man, was that good! People where I used to live in SW Florida toss pan fish back, or use the babies for bait. They don't want anything they can't filet. They don't know what they're missing.

Anonymous said...

I am telling you deep down it is in my blood to spend some time Bluegill fishing every season. I call it the "Bluegill Flu". It sets in and I just have to go find me a warmwater pond somewhere. Matt, here is to the fun you had chasing those little critters around.

Anonymous said...

We should hit up FoCo sometimes man.


Gary Thompson said...

Outstanding! I took my son out for an hour the other night to smack some bream. I head back tomorrow morning with fly rod and the full arsenal in hand. Something huge lurked beneath them and nearly blew up the Zebco which we never got a look at. This warrants further investigation me thinks!

Coloradocasters said...

@Cofisher: My bass game is in complete shambles right now as the shallows fill with these bite sized fin slappers. I greatly appreciate your visits to my blog…seriously we need to get together.

@Bill: 7’ M-fast action with 6lb line. It’s the same thing I use for bass and just do a gear change when needed. Typically I will have one or two rods on me and one will get rigged up for pillage on the gillage when a good population sighted.

@Foxyblur: Thank you so much…um…really. I luvs digging my face into some ice cream and confess to also enjoying your blog.

@Simply Deb: Panfish are very prolific and a very sustainable food source if managed properly. They taste scrumptious if a person is willing to go through the effort to fillet a smaller sized catch. What I encourage for the sake of quality is releasing the largest ones and removing the common sized slot in moderation. If we managed Mother Nature towards what the habitat needs instead of simply what we as humans want…the table would always be full.

@Mel: Love the phrase “Bluegill Flu” as for my addiction to these fish does look similar to that of “sickness”. Always honored when you stop by my friend.

@Shaun: (sigh) It would be an honor to fish with you. Every time I use that trick to retrieve a deep hook from a bass’ throat I mumble to myself…”Shaun taught me this. @#$%%^ awesome!”

@Gary: Very nice! Panfish are great for kids as they are always eager to hit just about anything. Admittedly I still use gills to brush up on the fly rod hookset. However I am pretty sure Colorado sunfish and bluegill would be insulted if they heard you call them “bream”. Ha ha