Ice Fishing Rigs – Big Bluegills

January 31, 2012 by  

Ice Fishing Rigs – Big Bluegills

By Nick Simonson

For the past few weekends, I have been exploring a small impoundment about twenty minutes from home.  Rumor had it that big bluegills roamed the basin out from the public access, but all my efforts had produced over the past month was a plethora of puny perch.  At the urging of my buddy Randy, we headed back for one more try on the small reservoir, based on a tip a fellow gave us on our way off the ice at the end of our last trip.
Ice Fishing Rigs for BluegillsWe ventured off from the point and I fired up the auger and began punching holes out in a line from shore.  After the thirtieth hole I clicked the auger off, tied a tiny jig on my spring bobber rod and began to explore the basin before us.  With my friend fishing shallow, I walked out to the farthest hole in the line with plans of working my way back toward shore.
As soon as I dropped the transducer in the hole, three lines flickered against the black backdrop of my sonar.  I dropped the jig and watched it spiral out of view into the murky waters of the forty-acre lake formed by the damming of a small creek some thirty years ago.  The lines rose up to meet the jig and I readied for the inevitable – undoubtedly they would be the same six-inch perch I had encountered before.  The spring bobber on my rod bounced and I set the hook with a snap of my wrist.
The blank bent in a solid arc and I knew right away the fish on the other end was not one of the tiny perch I had worked so hard to get away from.  The line spun around the hole as the whirling fight of the fish pulled it tight against the edge of the ice and then popped it loose and over to the other side of the hole.  The upside-down tornado whirled closer and closer to the surface as the line between the rod and hook shortened.  Like the moon sliding in front of the sun, the circular body of a big bluegill eclipsed the diameter of the hole and I felt my eyes go wide.
With many other anglers in the shallows where my friend was fishing, I gave a quick but muted whistle to my buddy and held the hand-sized panfish up for him to see and motioned him to join me out over the deeper water.  In a few minutes we were in the thick of a bluegill bonanza.  Our backs turned to the rising south wind; we raised the red lines off of the bottom and got them to bite with a subtle shake of a small plastic tail or a lightly-hooked spike.  Time and again, quality sized bluegills came to hand, but as the wind rose, the fish became more stubborn.
We switched ice fishing rigs to pull a few more from fourteen feet; bounced to a hole just on the break to land another out of twelve feet; and varied our baits to trigger other fish we encountered at various depths in between.  Even when we were forced by the wind to set up the shack and settle for a more stationary – but comfortable – position, the fish directly under us could be fooled by keeping our baits moving and modified from time-to-time when things slowed down.  The entire afternoon we landed forty ‘gills.  In that time, we hooked only one perch.
If it wasn’t for my friend’s continued press to give the lake one more try; the bluegills might have just been a hopeful thought for next season.  But by persevering, trying new areas and varying our presentations, we found success where we once found only frustration, and had we given up the stories of the big bluegills would have remained just that.  I’ve learned in the past few seasons – whether hunting or fishing – that sometimes perseverance is all it takes to have a breakthrough like the one I experienced this weekend, and help make those stories a reality…in our outdoors.


2 Comments on "Ice Fishing Rigs – Big Bluegills"

  1. Bargain on Sun, 5th Feb 2012 5:33 pm 

    Ice fishing is one those things that we only get to read about at this point. Would really love to do it one of these days, but for now we’ll have to settle with living through other’s experiences. Very nice article here. Loved how you detailed your day in what you used, caught and did to get your catch!

  2. Jack Hanna (not the Zoo man) on Tue, 7th Feb 2012 1:16 pm 

    Big Bluegills, good articale good menaries Dad and I bluegill fishing in Wis. Here comes that dam Guy from Indiana
    do not drill him any holes !!!! power drill. My Dad had his pole tip worked down,to where a fish touch the bait and it
    would and always move. always kept the line tight when dropping back in. He always caught big bluegills and alot
    of fish.

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.