Bluegills are a favorite target of ice anglers, who appreciate the fact they are good to eat and provide fast action once they are located. While ice anglers often can find bluegills, some particularly enjoy chasing large ones–those bigger than the palm of a hand–which provide as much of a challenge as any large game fish. For bluegill ice fishing tips, read on.
The Right Stuff
Do not use equipment that is too heavy–it will hinder your ability to know when a bluegill is biting. Two-pound mono-filament line works well for bluegills, as does a light-action, 24- to 36-inch ice fishing rod with a small spinning reel. Plain hooks and live bait can work well for bluegills, as can tiny jigs–1/32th to 1/64th of an ounce–tipped with live bait or curly tail plastics. Live bait options include maggots and wax-worms.
Find Green Vegetation
Vegetation that remains green under the ice nearly always holds bluegills. That’s because it gives off oxygen and is an important part of the food chain in that it attracts the invertebrates and other items bluegills eat. They might not always be right in the green weeds but instead may be in deep holes or suspended in open water nearby. Either way, begin fishing the shallowest part of the weed bed first and move your way deeper until you contact fish.
Stay on the Move
Near-constant motion is the key to locating bluegills. Drill a hole and fish for a few minutes. If you don’t get a bite, move and drill another hole. You do not have to move far each time–you’re searching for fish. Once you drill a hole and the fish start biting, continue fishing that hole until the bite stops. If you have caught bluegills and then go 30 minutes without a bite, it is time to move.
Keep Safety in Mind
The bluegill bite can be fast and furious once you have found the fish, but do not let safety slip from your mind. Many ice anglers wear life jackets onto the ice, especially if the water has just recently frozen. Using a chisel to test the ice in front of where you are walking is a good idea. If your chisel breaks through, or if you are uncomfortable for any reason, turn around and go back where you came from. No bluegill is worth a dip in a cold lake.