Posts Tagged ‘bluegill’

Bluegill vs Nightcrawler

We have a native tank with a few bluegills and one very stroppy green sunfish. Today was nightcrawler day, and this fellow got his worm.

bluegill nightcrawler

Read Full Post »

To the water

ian casting

Bluegill aren’t the prized fish of any big-time angler. They are pretty easy to catch, and in some not particularly pressured bodies of water they will happily nail unbaited hooks.

But they have a special place in my heart. I’m fairly certain that the first fish I ever landed was a bluegill, and if I’m feeling that I can’t catch anything, I’ll always try to for the bluegill. I’ve never gone bluegill fishing and failed to land at least one, and if you’re just looking to cast out and drown some worms, they provide a bit of relaxation and hint of Zen-like meditation.

And they are beautiful fish. The males in spawning color have the most spectacular turquoise marking around the heads and gill-plates. Were they not the banal fish of every little fishing hole, they would probably be prized as a sort of temperate cichlid and cost at least $25 a pair.

The current project around the house is setting up a native fish tank. It’s a birthday gift to my partner, and what’s more, my partner’s son is spending a few weeks with us.

And I get to share that childhood joy of landing that first bluegill, which he did this week. I wanted to make sure he got the fundamentals of fishing before we went out “for real,” when we were going out deep in the quest for our new tank specimens.

I taught to cast using a Zebco reel. The Zebco was the reel I first learned to use, and in a about a half hour’s worth of casting practice, he was doing the job well.

So we went to the lake at a little state park not far from here. We threw some night-crawlers and mealworms in the blackness of a summer lake. The bright orange bobbers floated like alien craft on the surface of the water, and every once in a while, the bobbers would tense up and shift, sure sign that a creature was nibbling at our bait. And then the bobber would go below the surface, and I’d say jerk and reel, and we’d miss.

But then we didn’t. The little bluegill fought his hardest against the line being spooled back towards the shore. He was so small that I was certain he’d gotten unhooked, and the boy reeled in his line, expecting to be left with a bare hook. Instead, he pulled in the little blue.

And his eyes beamed with pride at having landed that fish. It was prize every bit as a great as that record-breaking muskie or that giant flat-head reeled on a hot summer night’s fishing foray.

To the water we have gone.  And we have gone in search of beasts. We cast our lines into the murky universe that we can never fully enter. We hope that our baits are good, that our hooks are sharp, that our knots are steady, and that we reel just right.  Our big brains and dexterous thumbs have made us masters of the land, but when it comes to the life aquatic, we are mere amateurs. It matters little if we’re casting into little farm ponds or into the deep swelling sea. The fish have the answers. We can only hope that we ask the right questions and hope that luck swims in our way.

I hope I have passed on some of this mystery to Little Ian. I know that I have given him a chance to have some fun and think about the world that is not ensnared in steel and concrete. To consider the organic world from which we all descend is a gift I wish every child could receive.

So now we’re ready to collect our first specimens. I hope we get some bluegills or, even better, some of their related sunfish kin. These are the beauty fish of North America, but they are so common that we never consider their beauty fully. They are bycatch for bass and crappie anglers or bait for the flat-head hunters.

But they are still marvelous. And yes, they are tasty.

ian catches fish.jpg


Read Full Post »


“Don’t you stick me, you little fucker!”

Mountain Dew comes in an aluminum can.

It’s not tin!


Read Full Post »

Today’s catch

Four bluegills from my grandpa's pond.

I had no luck catching any trout today, so I decided to try the Westfall family farm pond.

My grandpa spent a lot of time and money making this pond work. He stocked it with bluegill and bass, but he also did he all could keep the pond from leaking. He also controlled the vegetation both around and in the pond.

In the last two  years, his health deteriorated greatly. No one in the family paid much attention to it.

When I showed up today, it was lily pad city.

There was just a big hole of open waterin the middle where no lily pads were to be found.

It was like ice fishing, just with much warmer weather.

The old technique for catching a bluegill is to put a mealworm or small earthworm (“fishworm”) on hook. As soon as you feel a nibble, reel in quick. The fish’s reflex is to grab that which has been taken away from it, and when it grabs it, it will be hooked. (I was using number 10 hooks.)

They were really biting this evening. I caught these 4 within 45 minutes. The only time I lost my bait was to the effing lily pads.

I was shocked at how many fish were in this pond. It’s not a very big one and is no deeper than 6 or 7 feet int he middle.

But there were huge bass swimming around and tons of bluegill.

When we were kids, we’d beg our grandpa to take us fishing. He never took us when the sun was shining right on the pond in the evening. It had to be shaded a bit.

We’d beg.

“Not ’til it’s shaded.”

We’d beg again.

“Not ’til it’s shaded.”

And when it was shaded, we’d go out and fish. I caught a few bass and who knows how many bluegill.

There was one huge bass in the pond that we called “the Great Destroyer.”  I hooked him a few times, but I don’t think I ever reeled him in.

Those were good times.

My grandpa passed in August.

Monday would have been his 79th birthday.

As I sat along the side pond this evening, I thought about those times.

I was a pretty lucky kid to have access to such a great pond– and to have grandparents who lived nearby.

Bluegill aren’t trophy fish in the least.

But their pungent stench takes me back.






Read Full Post »


New word for me:

I have never heard of a redear sunfish being called a shellcracker.

They eat a lot of snails and can actually crack snail shells with plates in the back of their throats.

The bluegill and black crappie are staples in WV, and the redear isn’t all that common.

I personally find the pumpkinseed to the be most attractive of these fish.

Read Full Post »

That black crappie is one stinky fish. (That’s a bad joke. In case you didn’t know, you pronounce that fish with the fecal-sound name “croppy.”)


When I was young amateur aquarist, I thought it would be a great ideal to put a bluegill in with my goldfish.

And things went well for a night or two.

Then one morning I woke up to find that some some goldfish halves swimming and floating around in the tank. The bluegill just bit them half. It didn’t eat them. I was sure it killed them just for the hell of it.

Or so I thought.

The bluegill was returned to the pond later that day.

So. Don’t put bluegill or other sunfish in the same tank with goldfish.

Bad things will happen.

Lesson learned.

Read Full Post »


This is a good example of what happens when predator and prey relationships become disrupted.

And this is just a Kentucky farm pond.

Just imagine what this has done globally.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: