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Bluegill - Over Harvest!!

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 5:28 pm
by Field Hunter
Anyone have any idea why people have to over harvest the Biggest Bluegills in a lake when the damn things are on the spawning beds and easy to take? Makes me madder by the year.

I fished a spawning bed on our lake this weekend...Kept 5 per day.....and watched group after group fill their live wells after that..... :ticked: :ticked: :ticked: :ticked: :ticked: :ticked:

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 5:35 pm
by Sasha and Abby
I don't fish for them at any other time of the year. I keep a limit (30 here) about once a week and eat them. You cannot fish them out... without a LOT of pressure. If there are that many big ones, the population must be in pretty good shape.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 6:19 pm
by Field Hunter
You CAN and will fish them out!!!!!! DNR research says that once the LARGE genetics are taken off the beds that the fish from the smaller gene pool will fill the niche. Why take 30 a week during the spawn? Just a gross over harvest of the largest fish in a lake. Every spawning bed should be posted off limits to the KEEPING of fish....Catch them and put them back so other people can enjoy the fight. In 3 weeks from now you'll be able to catch all the medium sized bluegills you want...much better eating also.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 6:34 pm
by Sasha and Abby
Well, it has not hurt any of the lakes that I fish (and they get 1000 times the pressure that your stuff does) for the last 300 years. If it was a problem, the DNR would step in and correct it.

Genetics... :roll: Please... The genetics ar in ALL the fish. Not just the big ones. :eyeroll:

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 6:54 pm
by Field Hunter
Let's the fish in South Caralina have any different growth rates than say the fish in MN where the water temp is below 40 degrees for about 8 months out of the year? It takes about 6-7+ years up here to grow a trophy bluegill....I'd bet it's alot shorter in SC.

The fish in this partticular lake have been studied....they have good genetics to grow large due to habitat and food. The catch size has decreased steadily over the last ten years.....the large spawners are getting smaller every year in length and pounds. The fishing pressure has increased 10 fold....more people have found the beds and where there were 2-3 boats fishing a bed every day ten years ago now there are 10 + every day on the same bed. I remember when 16oz - 20oz bluegills on this lake were not that a true 16ozer is VERY rare if not non-existent.

Again....why catch them...just because you can. 30 sunfish limit? That's what the limit was in MN until last year when they finally lowered it to 20. Some lakes now have experiemental 10 fish's about time....Unless you're a complete pig at the table, 5 sunfish are enough of a meal for a husband and wife......unless of course you are filling your freezer.

I'm not saying don't fish for those fish.....but why keep 20 or 30 every time you go out?

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 7:01 pm
by Sasha and Abby
A one pound bluegill in SC is between 5 and 7 years of age depending on where he is caught. It does not hurt our fish - I can't imagine the land of 10,000 lakes having a problem with not enough places to fish... :eyeroll:

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 9:15 pm
by Burly1
I understand where Field Hunter is coming from. Our lakes in ND are famous for boom and bust populations of perch and sunfish. But my understanding of why the fish attain superior size is not necessarily their genetics, but rather, as was also mentioned, forage base and habitat, as well as predation on the sunfish population by pike and/or bass etc.. Our short growing season also plays a big factor, in that conditions have to be favorable for a longer period in order for fish to attain a larger size.
We are lucky to have our "Prairie Jewels" as I like to call our small lakes, but it's unfortunate that so many feel that their resources are unlimited. Word of mouth, as well as published fishing reports, get the word of a hot bite around in a hurry, and people flock in to take as many of the tasty fish as possible. Don't misunderstand my comments. I have, and will continue to keep fish for the table, occasionally some big ones. But I try to use reason, and take only as many as I will use within a reasonable amount of time. I like the idea of slot limits for fish, but am sure our state would never implement such in regards to panfish. We have a put and take mentality in ND, and our fisheries people do their best to keep up. The one good thing I have seen in our small lakes, is the restrictions on gas motors to "idle speed". I would support an "electric only" law if one were proposed. I find that it tends to encourage those who are not too serious about their fishing, to stick to the bigger waters, which also tend to have larger and more stable fish populations. Opinions also differ on which species are more desirable. I release all bass I catch, unless one is too severely injured to survive. But I like to keep an occasional limit of 12" rainbows, when the water is still cool. This disturbs the fly anglers greatly, as they see the bass as a so-what, while viewing the trout as the desired target, carefully released to leap and cavort another day. I see this same thing on a local lake where I like to fish for bass, where people keep a string of 3-4 lb bass, when there are plenty of bluegill and crappie available. But you can't say too much, when someone has not exceeded their limit. You can only hope to educate them, by perhaps starting a conversation, and hopefully making a friend and a more savvy angler. Continued good fishing, Burl

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 9:25 pm
by qwakwhaker883
Great post Burl, people are going to keep keeping larger fish until they are taught not to. They think of it as an "unlimited resource" so they keep doing it. The only way to stop people from doing this is to teach them that it might hurt the fishing down the road for everybody.

We eat a lot of sunfish

PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2005 5:07 pm
by Sunnfisher
We eat a lot of sunfish but I don't fish any one area extensivly and I return any really big fish to the water. I find that as it gets later in the summer, you need to fish differently if you want to continue to boat larger sunfish. The thing that most improved the size of sunfish on our lake was a boom in the size and number of largemouth bass. It sounds sort of funny but at least on our lake the best way to have larger sunfish is to throw back the bass. Eat mid-sized sunfish and release all bass.

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 1:07 pm
by deacon
Fieldhunter, what lake? :poke:

It is just too bad, Sunfish in MN are a disgrace, I remember as a kid catching large sunnies all the time. Now it is very seldom you can catch a keeper 8" plus.

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:59 pm
by Sunnfisher
Maby the fish are the same size but you got bigger?

PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2005 7:31 am
by njsimonson
Yeah...that's an interesting phenomenon.

I caught HUGE bluegills as a kid too, but now...well, most of the time they seem so small. Was it just that my eyes and hands were smaller back then? Or were the fish really bigger?

Anyhow, YES - you can destroy a fishery by pulling all the big panfish out of it. Look at Lake Hobart in 2002. I caught tons of nice perch there and kept about 75 over a winter, but I watched hordes of anglers come in and reap, reap, reap without even THINKING what 1000 trucks on the ice were going to do to the lake.

Now the north end has hardly ANY fish left in it, because the 75 acres just couldn't take that abuse. Then what happens is the smaller fish, via genetics or competition (or most likely a combination of both) stunt out, and don't get above 8 inches.

So genetics, I am certain from what research I have done, plays a part in the stunting of fish. More often though, it is limited food supply and space. Do some research, you'll find out more on one of a hundred websites.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 9:28 pm
by scottjes000
your full of &$#* you cant over fish bluegill in the lakes that arnt fished the fish are smaller because they get stunted groth

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:21 am
by djleye
HUH :huh:

Gandergrinder, is this what you were talking about????

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 7:47 am
by deacon
Sunnfisher wrote:Deacon,
Maby the fish are the same size but you got bigger?

that is true and funny at the same time! :beer:

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 9:01 am
scottjes000 wrote:your full of &$#* you cant over fish bluegill in the lakes that arnt fished the fish are smaller because they get stunted groth

Are you serious? That heated with profanities over a conversation about bluegill management which I'm sure you have a lot of experience on?

PM sent

PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 6:34 pm
by Bustin Lips
I have seen a few lakes decline in numbers of nice bluegills (9"-10") The best thing a guy can do is not say a word, but it only takes 1 butthole to wreck it for everyone else. The lakes i speak of are in western MN and still have plenty of good fish left but we had to work for our limits this year. If I had to guess, I would say there was close to 2000 houses on a 500-600 acre lake. It's not fished out, but by the standards set from years past, I would say it is close.

PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 8:09 pm
by fubar

PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 8:25 pm
by Jer_Londgren
Maybe you all should through the female spawners back. After all, myself and others have been accused of being unethical for shooting hen mallards.

PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 6:28 pm
by bluesman
I think the bass population and bluegill population should be considered. I don't know the exact number but so many bluegills are needed for every bass. It's a fine line. Overfishing bluegills could result in damage to the order of things. I try to catch a few bass too when I'm fishing for bluegills to keep things even.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:43 am
by ruger1

I may have to agree with Field Hunter here. There are lakes in MN that the DNR has stepped in and limited the taking of th big bluegills with specific genetics for producing larger fish. There are a couple lakes where I'm from that you are limited to a 5 fish limit.

I'm a huge fan of tight restrictions. I hate to see freezers full of fish. It's my opinion that most fish in freezers go to waste. They tend to get buried in chest freezers (just an opinion).

Also I've seen a number of lakes where the little fish seem to have overpopulated and eaten themselves out of house and home. They are all stunted and small.

Take a meal and enjoy it fresh. No need to fill a freezer. Just my .02

Re: Bluegill - Over Harvest!!

PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:51 pm
by tnpondmanager
It was once believed that bluegill could not be fished out; now that idea has been thoroughly disproven by biologists in multiple states, as well as by professional pond and lake managers in the private sector. Biologists in Illinios and Utah, among other places, have discovered the existence of two discrete classes of male bluegill in any population, parental males and sneaker males. Parental males mature sexually at much larger sizes than sneakers, which can mature at three or four inches in size. Sneaker males, because they have not developed the body characteristics of larger males such as a large opercular tab, maroon or orange breast, muscular forehead, etc., are able to fool parental males guarding nests during spawning season into thinking the sneaker males are females - the parental males let them onto the nests, the sneaker males fertilize the eggs with their inferior genetics, and the overall genetic profile has just declined in that bluegill population. When there are a large number of parental (larger) males in a population, though they are duped by the sneaker males some of the time, they still fertilize a good number of the eggs themselves, and run off the sneaker males much of the time...

Unless misinformed, or greedy, fishermen keep too many of the large males, in which instance the sneaker males have free reign, which can cause the genetic profile of an entire population to permanently decline.

I have fourteen years of experience managing private ponds and lakes, and over thirty years of experience fishing and closely observing public lakes, and I've seen this very thing happen many times, most recently three years ago on a 50-acre lake near my hometown. The lake had never had exceptional bluegill fishing, but suddenly one summer I caught a couple decent ones, and resolved to return the following spring; sure enough, I had two or three trips where I caught a dozen or more large bluegill each time, some of them in the pound range. This was in March; I remember that at one point the "fishing report" page on the website maintained by the people that run the concession, remarked that they couldn't believe how many big bluegill were being caught. Within the span of two months, the meathogs had done irreversible damage to the lake: the fishing report page on the website lamented how scarce the bluegill were that year (they had already forgotten how many had been yanked out two months earlier)...And the lake hasn't had big bluegill since. I saw the same thing twenty years ago on another public lake about thirty miles east of me, same song: huge 'gills appeared in the lake four years after being drained and restocked, the word got out and the meat fishermen showed up, and within a year the lake's big bluegill had been decimated; today the bluegill fishing in it is pathetic.

One may think that a large reservoir can't be fished out, and the small bluegill can't. But the large ones can just as surely as can large bass. All one has to do to confirm this for oneself is to do a little research on what the bluegill fishing was like thirty years ago on any of thousands of once-legendary 'gill lakes across the country, compared to what it is on those lakes now. It's not coincidence that multiple posters on this thread noted that they used to catch bigger bluegill when they were growing up than they do now: this can be traced directly to the fact that the understanding of bluegill anglers in this country regarding their quarry is about forty years behind what bass fishermen have for theirs. There are many times more fishermen plying public waters now than there were even just thirty years ago, more people yanking out big bluegill, more harm to the gene pools of each lake. It used to be the norm for bass fishermen to keep big bass without thinking twice, and lakes got fished out; catch-and-release came along, and bass fishing in public lakes rebounded across the country. I and others who take bluegill fishing seriously, and pursue this wonderful fish year-round rather than just when they're easy pickings on the beds, hope that someday the level of angler awareness and enlightenment about our favorite fish, reaches the level it long ago did for bass, or walleye, or muskie, or pike, or trout.

Here are a couple photos of what bluegill can look like when the genetics of a population are not decimated by overharvest (other factors also went into these fish, to be fair, but they never would have reached this size had they been yanked off beds at age two):




Re: Bluegill - Over Harvest!!

PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2016 3:29 pm
by *bigstone
TN Pondmanager,

Thank you very much for your insight into Bluegill management. I sure hope the all ND forum readers read this thread and think about your comments for a minute. If we all do out part and release the largest gills back it will improve the fishery over time. We need to follow the example set by the bass and muskies fisherman. If the fisherman are really hungry for fish just keep the smaller ones.