Pop, went the surface of the pond, as if I smacked my lips loudly. Simultaneously, the leader on my flyline raced perpendicular to my position, slicing through the water like a barracuda. Instead the feisty fish on the business end of my line clearly demonstrated the virtues of the bedding bull bluegill.
A colorful, rowdy, but small fish, the bluegill is ounce for ounce as scrappy as fish come. Most freshwater anglers start out fishing for bluegill. Everyone falls in love with them. They are pure fun and delightful on the dinner plate.
Bluegill can be caught all year round. However, the time to catch the most and the biggest bluegill is during the spawn, which occurs in May and June in most areas. Look for the dish-pan sized beds in shallow water. Females lay their eggs in the indentations and males hang around to defend the nest. Like a rutting buck, a bull bluegill will attack anything that comes to close.
I have fished a lot of places in my lifetime, but one of my favorite methods of fishing is tossing small popping bugs with a lightweight fly rod to bedding bluegill. The action is fast, the fish fight furiously and their is always a good meal at the end of the fishing day.
I often use an 8 1/2-foot Dogwood Canyon 3 or 4 weight fly rod, coupled with a White River fly reel. A floating fly line, tipped with a 4-pound leader is sufficient. Any small, floating bug will catch bedding bluegill. I prefer Betts popping bugs with rubber legs. Bluegill have mouths about the diameter of a lead pencil, so I stick with small bugs.
Chartreuse is my favorite color, but white, black, red and yellow, or combinations thereof, will work, too. Legs on most poppers are white and they do their magic.
To make the fishing last as long as possible, make accurate casts to the edge of a bedding colony of bluegill. They will strike immediately. I like to work from the outside edge of a bed towards the inside. I catch more fish that way. If you start in the middle, your fly line will spook fish from the beds. Most will return in a matter of minutes, until they tire of your game.
Bluegill beds are often found in several locations in a pond or small lake. Find several of and rotate between them. Fish one until the fishing slows and then move on to another. Usually a fly fisherman can make several rounds between the beds before the fishing slows. Normally an angler will have al the fish he wants after two or three rounds.
Bull bluegill hook themselves when they inhale a popper. All one needs to do is lift the rod and enjoy the ensuing fight. Gills strike a popper quickly at first. When the action slows, allow the popper to sit for five to 10 seconds. Then move the popper just enough to make the rubber legs wiggle. And hang on.
Hooks are often hard to remove from the tight mouths of bull bluegill. The best popper remover available is a popsicle stick with a small V-notch cut in one end. The stick fights nicely into the fish’s mouth. Hold your line tight, put the V on the hook and apply light pressure. Your popper will instantly be ready for more action.