‘Gill Getting Time

Southern winter ‘gills, just like their northern cousins, eat heartily during the winter months.

My 16-year-old son Nathaniel isn’t a fan of cold, and unlike me, he’s also far more of a bass fisherman than a bluegill fisherman. Nevertheless, Nathaniel and I both always look forward to winter bluegill fishing on our favorite local pond, and a couple of recent outings have proven that the winter ‘gill-gettin’ season has arrived. They haven’t moved all the way into the deepest water, but they are on the bottom and easy to catch.

Most Southern anglers don’t target bluegills during the winter. If fact, you would think bluegills hibernated, based on the attention they get. I’d never thought about winter prospects myself until I started getting into ice-fishing. Then it struck me that if bluegills eat well under the ice, like in this episode of Fish Ed, they certainly would feed readily throughout Southern winters.

Nathaniel and I basically ice fish from the boat. We go got the deepest part of the pond, which has a soft bottom and likely produces plentiful bugs, find fish with a Humminbird 688ci (which is set up for ice so it’s handy to carry out in any johnboat), and fish straight below the boat with tipped ice jigs.

The Southern flavor in our approach (beyond the fact that there is no ice) comes from the fact that we tip our jigs with little pieces of earthworms, which we can dig from the side yard year ‘round, instead of waxworms or other larvae.

Because the fish aren’t all the way down the slope yet, this winter we’ve actually done best casting the little ice jigs toward the bank that’s adjacent to the deepest area, letting them sink to the bottom and dragging them slowly. The fish will continue deeper, though, and soon we’ll be fishing vertically. Just like ice fishing, except that sweatshirts should keep us warm most days!

Check out my blog to keep up with fishing travels.


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