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Predator Good Behaviour

Piking And The Law

To help you stay the right side of the law when pike fishing here we outline some of the commonly misunderstood elements of the Environment Agency’s national fishery byelaws as they relate particularly to pike fishing in England and Wales. Bear in mind that each region of the EA has its own set of byelaws in addition to the national ones, so there may be some variation around the country. Also remember that each fishery is entitled to set its own rules and regulations in addition to the byelaws.

Close Season

In England and Wales the close season for coarse fish (including pike) is between March15th and 15th June inclusive. This close season applies to all rivers, streams and drains, but does not apply to most stillwaters. The coarse fish close season does not apply to most canals in England and Wales.

There are, however, some exceptions that retain the close season for conservation reasons.

Where the statutory coarse fish close season has been removed, fishery owners and angling clubs are free to introduce a close season through club or fishery rules if they wish to.


Everyone over the age of 12 wishing to fish for freshwater fish in England or Wales must be in possession of a valid rod licence. To fish for pike a Non Migratory Trout and Coarse Fish licence is required.

Concessionary licences are available for Juniors (12-16), Seniors (65+), and the Eligible Disabled. Rod licences are available from every Post Office in England and Wales, by phone (Full and Junior Concessionary licences only) on 0870 1662 662, online here or by Direct Debit (details here).

A licence does not give permission to fish, this must be sought from the fishery owner.

Number Of Rods

A rod licence entitles the holder to use two rods for coarse fishing.
If you purchase two licences you are then entitled to use up to four rods – where fishery rules permit.
This applies only to rods actually in use – you can have as many as you wish set up.

Spacing And Control Of Rods

Multiple rods may not be spaced more than three metres apart, measured between the butts of the outermost rods.
Rods must not be left unattended.
An angler must be in control of all rods at all times.

Pike Tubes And Keepsacks

Pike tubes and keepsacks must be constructed of a soft, dark coloured, non-abrasive, water permeable fabric.
Sacks must have dimensions of at least 120cm by 90cm.
Tubes must have dimensions of at least 150cm by 30cm by 40cm.
You must not keep more than one fish in a single tube or keepsack.
If you wish to retain more than one pike a separate tube or sack must be used for each fish.

Landing Nets

Landing nets must have a knotless mesh.
Gaffs are illegal in England and Wales.

Use Of Fish As Bait

The use of coarse fish (live or dead) for bait is legal in England and Wales except on certain named lakes in Cumbria. Details here. Fish taken for use as live bait may only be used on the water from which they have been taken.

More details about current rod licence charges and fishery byelaws (including regional byelaws) can be found on the Environment Agency website.

Code Of Conduct

Before starting to fish THINK. Are you too close to another angler? Are you likely to interfere with their sport? When bank fishing try not to fish any nearer to an angler than is necessary, leave them plenty of room if you can. When boat fishing try not to encroach on another angler’s fishing area and give bank anglers at least 100 yards clearance if possible.

Rods should never be left unattended in any circumstances. If you decide to leave your swim for any reason, REEL IN, it only takes a few seconds for a pike to swallow a set of hooks. It is unfair to ask or expect another angler to attend your rods whilst you are away. He has his own tackle to deal with and whilst looking after yours could have his own unattended baits gorged by a pike.

ALWAYS ensure that you have the correct tackle necessary, especially a large micromesh landing net, unhooking mat, forceps, strong wire cutters, small bolt cropers, wire traces, scales and weigh sling.

The use of semi-barbless or crushed barbed hooks in sizes 6 or 10 is preferable to barbed – you will not lose fish. Semi-barbless hooks are not an excuse for allowing a pike to swallow the bait.

It is important to correctly place the hooks in the bait in order to minimise the chances of deep hooking. For most livebaiting the top one in the dorsal and the other behind the pectoral. For legered deadbaits the top one in the tail root and the other no further forward than the dorsal fin.

NEVER wait for a second run. Strike as soon as you are sure that the pike has the bait in its jaws. Although conditions may differ, always assume that the pike is of reasonable size and strike sooner than later. A pike missed is preferable to a deep hooked one. Remember, hooked pike not only suffer damage from the hooks but also from the extra time it takes to get them returned to the water.

Handle all pike with the utmost care. On landing lay it on the landing net, grass or an unhooking mat. NEVER on uncovered hard ground. When boat fishing always take carpet underlay, foam rubber sheet or an unhooking mat to cover the bottom boards. NEVER use a pike gag when unhooking, use the forceps and hand technique. Laying the pike on its back and firmly holding its lower jaw (through the gill cover, avoiding the gill rakes) with one hand and removing the hooks with the other. Always be especially careful when you find it necessary to insert the forceps behind the gill covers. At all times make sure the fish is held firmly.Weighing should be carried out using a weighing sling or soft net – NOT with the balance hook under the chin.

If you have to, retain pike in a specially designed pike tube or retention sack, but only for the minimum period of time necessary for photographs, etc. Always sink the tube or sack well and leave alone once in position. DO NOT tow fish around in tubes or sacks (it is dangerous to do this) or transport pike long distances in boats. In warm weather in particular, pike can easily die from this mistreatment. All pike should be returned to the water as soon as possible and in all circumstances, DO NOT retain pike just for the sake of it.

When livebaiting the use of bait no longer than 8” (20 cm) is recommended. The transportation and subsequent translocation of livebait from one water to another is an offence throughout the British Isles and should NOT be practiced. The continuation of this Practice will lead to prosecutions, acrimony and the eventual banning of livebaiting altogether, use only fish captured at the venue. It is essential to ensure that livebaiting is an acceptable method on the water you are fishing. Always bear in mind that as well as presenting hooking problems the use of large baits is more likely to incur the wrath of pleasure and match anglers. Be tactful at all times when livebaiting.

Always respect the property of others and as such poaching is not condoned. Always obtain permission to fish wherever necessary and comply with any rules the water owner imposes. Make sure that you have the correct Environment Agency rod licence.

Do not damage crops, fences or trees and don’t leave any litter or tackle behind and never light fires. Should you discover anything left behind by any other anglers – take it home. Always respect the environment and its wildlife, discarded litter or tackle give all anglers a bad name. Amongst some groups of anglers it has become fashionable to act in such a manner as to cause annoyance to others. Pike anglers should not be seen to be party to such behaviour.

The good name of the PAC and the esteem in which it is held has taken many years to build up, yet irresponsible actions by one or more members could destroy in minutes all that hard work. The name of the PAC is entrusted to each and every member and all members are PAC representatives. YOU are the PAC and by adhering as closely as possible to the recommendations listed above you will not let it down.

If you see anyone abusing pike try to persuade, educate and convince them that there is no reason to mistreat pike. Never lose your temper, if they will not listen, leave and report the incident to the fishery owner and your Regional Organiser.

Livebaiting – Code Of Practise

Since fish first swam, millions of years ago, whether in fresh or saltwater, they consumed other creatures as part of their diet. They still do. In seeking to offer baits which are natural, and behave so, anglers may consider the use of live grubs, worms, crustacean or fish as bait. The use of live fish as bait is an established, legal angling method which is highly effective in freshwater fishing for pike, eels, catfish, perch and zander. The method may also be used for chub and – where permitted – trout.

There is no difference between using live fish and any other type of live bait, bearing in mind that there is no scientific evidence to support the assertion that fish feel pain. However, to avoid possible conflict with those who may not share this view it is imperative that when livebaiting, anglers should do so in a responsible manner, both in terms of obeying the law and in terms of conservation.

General principles

Always check the fishery rules before using livebaits. It is essential to ensure that livebaiting is permitted on the water you are fishing. Also ensure that the fish to be used are in ready supply. Fish stocks must not be depleted and ‘specimen’ fish or ‘rare’ species must never be used.

Never introduce or remove fish to or from any water without the permission of the fishery owner.

You should check regional byelaws to ensure that you conform with any restriction on the number of livebaits you take and the method by which they are retained.

Transfer of livebaits between waters carries the same risks as fish stocking. Unauthorised introduction of fish into any waters may upset the ecological balance and damage the fishery through the spread of either unsuitable fish species, or harmful diseases and parasites.

In England and Wales, Section 30 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act1975, states that you must have written permission (consent) from the Environment Agency before you introduce fish into any inland water. This includes fish which are health certified and come from a reputable source.

Although no such legislation currently applies in Scotland it is recommended that, for as long as this situation prevails, anglers in Scotland also take account of the following guidelines.

Using livebaits on the water from which they are taken

When using livebaits from the fishery from which they were caught, they should be retained and used there preferably on the same day.

Stillwaters – Most are self contained and in England and Wales Section 30 will only be required for livebaits brought to the water from elsewhere.

Rivers, Canals and Drains – In general anglers may transfer livebaits between adjacent stretches of the same river or canal without Section 30 consent, providing that this does not involve carrying them in a vehicle. Anglers wishing to move livebaits further than they might walk during the course of a day’s fishing are advised to apply for Section 30 Consent.

Using livebaits on other waters

If you wish to transfer livebaits between any waters in England and Wales you must first obtain Section 30 consent. Applications for Section 30 consent to introduce fish which are intended for use as livebaits are treated in exactly the same way as any other application for the introduction of new fish stocks.

It usually takes about 10 working days for the Environment Agency to process an application and issue your consent. In certain circumstances it might take longer so plan well ahead.

Section 30 Consent is normally a one-off permission issued for a specific date and site. Your application must give the exact date you plan to introduce fish. After the EA has provided your Section 30 Consent, you can only change the date you plan to introduce the fish in exceptional circumstances. It may be possible to obtain consent which covers more than one date, or between a range of dates. This is known as a ‘Block Consent’. It may be used, for example,

i) if you want to introduce trout bought from a single registered fish farm – to be used as livebait at the same site (still water) where the Agency judges the ecological risks are minimal.

ii) if you plan to introduce coarse fish into a water where the Agency would not normally insist on a health check (so-called ‘non-mandatory’ waters that are totally enclosed)

For specific advice on the use of Section 30 Consent in England and Wales you can contact the Environment Agency on 0845 933 3111, alternatively the telephone number for your local Environment Agency office is provided on your rod licence.

With regard to Scotland, it is imperative that coarse species are not introduced into waters where they may not already be present. If you wish to use salmonids, it is recommended that you obtain health certified stock and that you restrict their use to catchment areas which are stocked with the same strain. You should retain any bill of sale.


Catch More Nightcrawlers

There are a few things to do to help yourself catch more nightcrawlers. Catching your own nightcrawlers is an easy way to save some money during your next fishing season. Lots of fishermen catch their own nightcrawlers and there are a few different ways to do it.

After a hard rain during the spring through fall, you can go out in the grass with a flashlight and a bucket and you can catch plenty of worms. Walk softly, try not to flash the flashlight directly at the nightcrawler and make sure to be quick when you grab the nightcrawler. If the worm is still half into the ground, you will have to grab its head and slowly pull it out of the hole.

An easier way to catch nightcrawlers is to look on the streets and sidewalks before it gets light out. You can still get them when it gets light out, but you’ll get more if you do it at night. (Make sure you are in a safe neighborhood and take a buddy with you for safety reasons.)

Another easy way to get nightcrawlers is to look in the grass fields that have a few inches of standing water. The worms will just be laying in the water. Pick them up and put them in your bucket. It’s that easy. You may want to wear some waders or hip boots with this approach.

Pike Tackle Requirements

Fishing for pike does require some specialised tackle. However, while there are a few fundamentals that are essential you might already have some of the equipment you will need.

Wire traces are absolutely essential for pike fishing or there is every chance that a pike will bite through your line! Line and trace strength needs careful consideration and it is better to opt stronger rather than lighter. A main line of at least 15lb is a good idea and trace wire of 30lb or more. Hooks can be treble or double and crushing the barbs will facilitate their speedy removal when you do land a pike.

Pike rods usually have a test curve of 2.5lb or more for bait fishing, and for lure fishing choose one designed to cast 56g (2oz) or so. Floats and/or bite indicators will also be needed.

Other than a reliable reel you will also require a large landing net with at least 36 inch arms if triangular in shape, or with a diameter of 30 inches if round framed. For unhooking pike you will need one pair (better still two pairs) of strong, long-handled forceps. A sufficiently large weigh sling (see photo) and unhooking mat, or a sling/mat combo, completes the basics.

Pike Wire Traces

Whenever you are fishing for pike a wire trace MUST be used. Even small pike have razor sharp teeth that will cut though ordinary line. For the safety of the pike, should it swallow your bait a little too deeply, your trace should be at least 15 inches (40cm) in length whether you are bait or lure fishing. With the ultrathin trace wires which are available today there is no need to drop below 30lb breaking strain. For speedy unhooking it is preferable that barbless, semi-barbed or crushed-barb hooks are used when bait fishing. Always use traces that have a good quality swivel for your line to be tied to, cheap swivels can break and a wire loop might cut through your line.
These days most tackle shops stock ready-made reliable traces constructed with top quality components that have been designed by experienced pike anglers. If you would prefer to make your own pike traces we can show you how.

Making Wire Traces

First of all you have to acquire trace components and trace making tools. Hooks, swivels and wire are essential. For lure fishing a good quality snap link, which will not open up inadvertantly is essential. Suitable crimps will also be needed if you wish to make your traces by crimping. Multistrand wire can also be twisted to make secure connections of hooks and swivel. To make crimped traces you will need a pair of special pliers, and to make twisted traces a ‘Twiddling Stick’ and possibly a cigarette lighter will be needed. Something to cut the wire neatly, without fraying, is also essential – small side cutters are ideal. Opinion is divided as to whether the upper hook on a two hook trace should be fixed or sliding. Both methods of trace construction are described here.

Twisting Method

Take the end of your wire and double it back to form an open loop, pass this loop through the eye of your first hook, and then the hook through the loop. Snug the wire up by pulling on both ends of the wire to make a neat loop-to-loop connection. This sounds a lot harder than it really is! Some people simply pass the wire twice through the eye of the hook, but the loop method is less likely to pull out if your twists aren’t well made.

Put the hook of theTwiddling Stick in the eye of the hook, or the bend if the eye is too small. Bend the free end of the wire at ninety degrees to the main trace and grip it with the thumb and forefinger of your left hand (if right handed) – about an inch (25mm) of free wire is plenty, so it can be trimmed at this point. Now rotate the Twiddling Stick so that the free end of wire wraps neatly around the main part of the trace between your forefinger and thumb until the join is completely wrapped. Some of the stiffer wires are more easily twisted if the free end is heated with the flame of a cigarette lighter to soften it. Make sure you do not heat the main part of the trace as this weakens the wire.

Now cut your wire to length for the finished trace, allowing a little extra for attaching the second hook and swivel. Take your second hook and thread it onto the wire and position it the distance you want it to be from the end hook when the trace is completed. To fix this hook bend the wire down and along the shank of the hook, back around between the bends of the treble or double hook, then wrap it three or four times around the shank of the hook before passing it back through the eye. This makes a connection which will not slip. Take time over this to eliminate any loose wire.

Finally add the swivel in the same way you did the first treble and the trace is complete.

Crimping Method

First pass the end of your trace wire through a crimp, through the eye of your lower hook and then back through the crimp. Snug the crimp down towards the eye of the hook, but not too tightly. The hook should be free to swing in the loop of the wire. Next take your crimping pliers and squeeze the crimp in two places. This will ensure a secure connection. Trim the tag end of wire with your cutters. For a really neat job the tag end can be pulled just inside the crimp before crimping, but this takes practice to avoid pulling it in too far.

Now cut the wire to length – a few inches longer than the length you want the trace to end up. Pass the free end through the eye of your second hook, position the hook roughly where you want it and wrap the wire around its shank three or four times. Sliding a short length of tight fitting silicone tubing over the wrapped shank of the treble makes the trace much neater, and helps stop the treble sliding inadvertently.

Finally attach the swivel to the free end of the wire in the same way as you did the first hook and the job is done.

Basic Lure Fishing

If you have already done some pike fishing you will have some of the basic tackle required for lure fishing. Landing net, weigh sling and unhooking mat, for example. Many experienced lure anglers prefer a larger meshed net than they would use for bait fishing as this reduces the number of hook tangles they get when netting lure caught pike.

Because lures are usually fitted with larger and thicker wire hooks than are used for bait fishing a standard pair of forceps might not be sufficient to unhook lure caught pike. A pair of fine nosed pliers, maybe with long handles, is better, and a tool called a HookOut is also recommended. These give you better leverage on the hook, and keep your hand clear of both the pike’s teeth and any free hooks.

Should you experience difficulty in removing a treble hook with your pliers it is quicker, better for the pike, if you cut the hook up and remove it in two or more pieces. A strong pair of side cutters or small bolt croppers make perfect tools for this job. Close your eyes when cutting the hook just in case the point of the hook flies in your direction. If the cut portion of the hook remains in the pike’s mouth remove it with your pliers.

A wire trace is just as essential when lure fishing for pike as when bait fishing. So long as it is twelve inches or longer it will be fine. Make sure it has a strong swivel at one end and a strong snap link at the other, of a design that will not open up accidentally when fishing.

Line of at least 15lb and trace wire of 30lb are suggested for lures of an ounce or so, but it is a good idea to use stronger line and trace wire than you might for bait fishing as the repeated casting involved in lure fishing will place additional stress on these items. Many lure anglers are now using braided lines of higher breaking strains as these also offer greater sensitivity than nylon monofilament while being no thicker. For techniques such as jerkbait fishing specialised tackle is required and even 20lb line is not sufficiently strong.

Safe Pike Rigs

Fixed lead rigs have become common in carp fishing and other circles in recent years, and their use is now widespread in pike fishing, too. However, care must be taken to ensure that the lead is not attached in such a way that it cannot be dislodged from the rig should the baited trace break off from the line. Rigs like this have become known as ‘tether rigs’ or ‘death rigs’ and must never be used.

Do not attach bomb weights directly to trace swivels using snap links. Use an intermediate link of weak nylon. Better still use one of the many purposely designed safety bomb links or in-line leads that are designed to be a safe push-fit onto a trace swivel.

When paternostering ensure that the bomb link is of weak nylon (6-8lb breaking strain) which a pike will be able to snap if the bomb snags. Further weakening this link by tying overhand knots in it, and using a blood knot to attach the bomb, will help the link snap more easily.

Do not fix bullet weights on to traces in such a way that they cannot pull over the trace swivel. If you must put a weight directly on a wire trace use the sort of weight that is interchangeable without breaking down the tackle as this will have some chance of coming free should the worst happen.

To avoid losing rigs, and hooked fish, always use sensible strong main line – minimum fifteen pounds mono, or thirty or fifty pound braid.

ANY rig, however good, is potentially a death rig if it is left unattended, or fished without good bite indication. There are other rigs and items of tackle which can prove fatal to pike;

Stainless steel hooks should not be used for pike fishing as they will never corrode should they become left in a pike.

Always use good quality swivels for trace construction. Swivels with twisted wire eyes should be avoided. The use of swivels which have a stated breaking strain is highly recommended in selecting reliable components.

Snap links which open up accidentally can result in the loss of lures or baited rigs. Avoid snap links which operate like a safety pin, and those which have a ‘hook and eye’ closing mechanism – these are fine for attaching bombs or floats to rigs but should not be used for trace or lure attachment.

Weak Leger Link

In order to make a weak link you will need a leger ring or leger bead, a snap link, some 2mm silicone tubing and some nylon line that is weaker than the mainline you will be using (6 or 8lb will usually be about right).

Tie the nylon to the leger ring using a Uni/Grinner knot. Decide roughly how long you want the link to be and tie a loop knot at this point, then trim off the tag end of line.

Attach the snap link to the loop, and measure off a piece of the silicone tubing so that it will snug over the eye on the leger ring and cover about half the snap link.

Thread a spare length of the nylon through the length of silicone tubing, through the snap link and back up the silicone tubing. Hold the two ends of nylon and slide the silicone down over the snap link and the weak link on to the eye of the leger ring.

You can make up a number of these weak links in various lengths, and by passing them through drilled poly balls you can make buoyant, ‘weed-beater’ links too.

Fishing for Bluegill

Bluegills are one of the most common game fish found in Iowa. Although primarily thought of as a pond and small lake fish, they are also abundant in natural lakes, large border rivers, and reservoirs. Bluegills are closely related to largemouth bass, and as you might expect, anywhere there are bass there is an excellent chance bluegills will be present.

Angler opinion polls conducted by the Department in the last decade have shown bluegills are one of the more popular fish in Iowa, especially in the southern part of the state. Not only is it a favorite, but its popularity has been steadily increasing until it currently ranks third in preference. Bluegills are moving towards the top of popularity charts for several reasons. They are quite easily caught, take great varieties of baits, are not particularly wary, are forgiving of a less than perfect fishing technique, fight very well for their size are exceptionally fine eating, and are extremely abundant in many ponds and lakes. In addition, bluegill can be caught with just about any tackle, from a simple cane pole to a sophisticated and expensive graphite flyrod. Finally, and most importantly, bluegill are just plain fun to catch.

Locating a Fishing Spot

Catching bluegills is easy, but consistent catches of larger fish are more difficult. Large fish are not found in every body of water; therefore, it is important to locate ponds and lakes that contain bigger fish. You can find water with keeper bluegills by asking other anglers, conservation officers, area fisheries biologists, state and county park rangers, pond owners, or for that matter anyone that is familiar with the body of water in question. Don’t be shy in asking for information; most anglers like to add a little spice to their reputation.

After finding waters that are known to harbor keepers, consistent catches will depend on your knowledge of the location and seasonal habits of the fish. Bluegill are not randomly distributed in a lake, but rather they concentrate into specific habitats, depending upon the season. To be successful you must learn to locate these concentrations of fish. The fact you caught fish in one area in the spring does not mean you will catch them in that location in mid-summer. In fact, the opposite is probably true; it would be surprising to find bluegill in the same location during two different seasons.

Spring and Early Summer Fishing

Spring and summer is by far the best period to catch bluegills because they congregate in the shallows to spawn, become very aggressive, and are particularly easy to catch. The best method of determining this period of bluegill spawning activity is water temperatiure. Spawning activity peaks when the water temperature is 75 degrees F. This period usually corresponds closely with Memorial Day in Iowa. Fish a week or two before and after this holiday, and you will center the major spawning activity. It is often easy to spot the saucer-shaped depressions because bluegill build their nests in shallow water very close to shore. Carefully search water from 2 to 6 feet deep and locate a spawning bed. Male bluegills guarding nests are woefully easy to catch.

Although the same factors govern the spawning habits of bluegill, there may be great differences depending on habitat. In large rivers, like the Mississippi, the fish prefer to spawn among stumps and dead bottom-hugging trees and other quiet areas; commonly these are backwaters and sloughs. Here they find habitats where the constant current will not disturb the nest. Current is not a major factor in natural lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, where males build their nests in shallow bays or along protected shorelines. In these habitats bluegill spawn among sticks, stumps, or thinly-spaced vegetation. A shallow flat adjacent to a flooded creek channel is also a good place to find spawning bluegill. Nearly all species of sunfish, which include bluegill, prefer a sand or gravel bottom for nest building, but lacking this habitat the nests will be fanned out of silty muddy bottom. Beds may be as small as 3 or 4 feet long and 4 feet across or as large as 25 feet accres and 50 feet long, and a single bed may contain nly a few nests or several hundred. By and large, spawning locations in large rivers are considerably smaller than those found in lakes and pond.

Fishing for bluegill that are guarding the nest is exciting. One of the best techniques is to wade or boat within easy casting distance of the nests and use a small lure or bait just below a small bobber. Cast a piece of worm, jig, or other bait beyond the bed and slowly retrieve it through the nesting area. Depth of the nests determines how deep to set the float. Fish close to the bottom, keep both lure and float as small as possible, and set the hook quickly, or the aggressive males will swallow the bait.

A bed of spawning bluegills can be a flyrod fisherman’s dream. If the water is shallow enough, they will usually rise to hit poppers, especially in the evening. Otherwise wet flys or ultra-lite leadheads will take them from deeper beds.

Of the fish caught from nests, 95 percent will be males. The male fish is more vulnerable to catching because he builds the nest within a well-defined terrritory and aggressively protects the eggs against all intruders. Females are more often caught on casts into the adjacent, deep water. Many times they hang just off the spawning beds prior to inshore movement.

Late Summer Fishing

As the season progresses, small bluegill hatch and move away to feed. The adult male then abandons the nest to travel to deeper water for the summer. Many bluegill will spawn only once each season, but in waters not limited by overcrowding, some fish move back into the shallows in the late summer to spawn a second time. It often is rewarding to check spawn sites again during the summer for these multi-spawners.

Large river bluegill spend their summer in deeper water and congregate along undercut banks often favoring old, fallen trees. High water in spring-time and currents scour holes near the bank, often exposing a tangle of roots and other snags. The edge of lilly pads or other aquatic vegetation can also produce good catches of fiesty bluegills.

Bluegill living in lakes, reservoirs, and ponds also move to deeper water during the hot days of summer. They can be found along the edges of weeds or in deep coves. Many times they are on humps or areas that break into flooded creek channels or other deep water. Summer-time bluegill, especially the bigger ones, are usually found at depths ranging from 10 to 12 feet. There they suspend just above the thermocline. Man-made underwater objects also attract bluegill during the summer. Many lakes and reservoirs contain stake beds, brush shelters, tire reefs, and other fish attractors that have been placed in the water. These objects, in addition to boat docks or boats tied at one spot for several days, are productive hangouts for bluegill.

To catch mid-summer bluegill, fish your favorite bait or lure in areas you think might concentrate the fish. On the Mississippi try the 10-foot water along undercut banks or near aquatic vegetation that crowds backwaters and near sunken trees. Working undercuts during summer is best accomplished from downstream. Cast upstream and allow the current to move your bait or lure through target habitat. Allowing the bait to move naturally is the key. It’s best to use natural bait, even when fishing jigs, because the line often goes slack because of the current. The tasty natural bait makes the fish hold on until the slack is eliminated and you can feel the fish on the line.

In lakes, reservoirs, and ponds try live bait or small lures near the edges of weed beds, submerged extensions of shoreline points, humps or flats dropping into creek channels. Fish often suspend over deep water where they can be taken by drift fishing. Drift your boat with the wind allowing the bait or lure to be suspended at 10 to 15 feet. Repeat drifts over areas that are productive.

Fall Fishing

Sometime around late September, large bluegill abandon their summer haunts as they prepare for fall and winter. They move from deep water to locations with mid-depths, often near their spawning sites. Here, as with selection of other habitats, structure is important. Shoreline points that extend far out into the lake and drop off sharply often concentrate bluegill. Another “hot spot” is an underwater ridge, saddle, or hogsback in 8 to 10 feet of water. The presence of brush or rock will enhance the fish-holding capablility of these locations.

Fall bluegill fishing is similar to summer fishing, except the fish are generally shallower. Mid-summer techniques and baits should be used during this period.

Winter Fishing

As autumn turns to winter and water cools, bluegill move into deeper water to spend the cold months. Here they often locate over shoreline points and ridges or near brush and aquatic vegetation in 15 to 20 feet of water. Frequently schools of similar-sized fish will move onto flats 10 to 12 feet deep to feed before moving back to deep water.

As we have seen so far, big bluegills change their habits with the changing seasons. Failure to take advantage of this knowldge will leave a bluegill angler with an empty stringer or with only small fish to show for their efforts. Big bluegill tend to gather in small groups, while the small bait stealers many people are so familiar with are found in large schools.

General Guidelines for Bluegill Fishing

There are several basic bluegill fishing principles which should be adhered to if consistent success is to be had. Foremost, fish where the fish are living. This may seem obvious, but it is surprising how many anglers simply walk down the shoreline, cast out, and never give a thought to the seasonal habits of the fish they’re after. Make use of your knowledge of seasonal changes in bluegill habits and your success will improve. Take note of the locations that produce catches because these places will be good from year to year.


It definitely pays to use light line and tackle when bluegill fishing. Not only do you catch more fish, but also you have more fun with light tackle. Many serious bluegill fishermen use ultra-lite graphite spinning rods and tiny reels loaded with 2 or 4 pound-test monofiliament line to pursue their quarry. Bluegill feed mainly on aquatic insects, which are slow-moving creatures. Rarely will a bluegill chase food items; therefore, it’s important to fish very slowly. This is true whether you use artificial lures or live bait. Finally, there is practically no such thing as a lone bluegill. Once you catch one, quickly cover the area again and take as many as possible before moving to the next spot.

Suitable bluegill fishing equipment comes in many forms. Perhaps the oldest fishing gear used for bluegill is a cane pole and a can of worms. This simple implement of by-gone days has been largely replaced with modern spinning and spin-cast rods and reels. Rarely does one see a cane pole in use today. Most have been lost, broken, or regulated to garage rafters. The cane pole is effective, however, and may be just what the doctor ordered, especially for small children unable to master a rod and reel.

Modern fiberglass and graphite rods with spinning or spin-cast reels are the gear of choice by most bluegill anglers. The great advantage of this equipment is the a wide choice of baits and techniques can be used, all within reasonable cost.

Although artificial lures are most often thought of in partnership with spinning gear, these outfits can also be used effectively with live or natural bait. The perennial favorite live bait is the fishworm. Whether it be a nightcrawler stalked with a flashlight in the back yard, garden worms dug from a manure pile, or red wigglers purchased from a bait shop, all serve as effective baits for bluegills. Most fishermen use small bobblers when fishing worms, but all live bait can also be fished on the bottom with success. Lowering your bait over the side of the boat or making short casts with a slow retrieve are also tried and proven techniques. A soft touch is required when not using a float to feel a bite and set the hook. Other live baits suitable for bluegill include grasshoppers, crickets, catalpa worms, or about any insect large enough to put on a hook – most bluegill are not particularly shy about forage.

Bluegills have small mouths and a small hook is essential–sizes 6 or 8 seems best. Hooks with long shanks are easier to remove from the small mouth, especially if the bait is swallowed. Thin wire hooks are the choice with live bait because the bait will stay alive longer and will be more enticing to fish as it squirms on the hook.

Artificial baits suitable for catching bluegill are numerous. Thirty-second and sixty-fourth ounce leadhead jigs, although tough to cast with anything but ultra-lite gear, are exceptional bluegill catchers. Leadheads tipped with marabou feathers, rubber grubs, or twister tails all work well. A small piece of worm or maggot attached to the lure will often increase bites when the fish are exceptionally choosy. All colors catch bluegill, but black is preferred by the most ardent ‘gill fishermen. Tiny spinner-baits, spinners, and weighted flies can be used with spinning gear to catch big bluegill. Fish these baits as slowly as possible for best results. Dry flies and small poppers can be used with a spinning rod if a small float is attached about 4 feet from the lure. Long casts with a jerky or twitching retrieve will take bluegill when they are feeding on the surface.


A fisherman using a flyrod is a rare sight today on most Iowa waters. Often thought of as a technique to catch trout, a flyrod is an excellent piece of equipment for catching bluegills. It is surprising how far a 9-inch fish can bend an 8-foot flyrod. Flyrods work best for fishing shallow waters. Try one when fishing among spawning beds in spring or along the edges of weed beds later in the season. Surface flies, poppers, or rubber-legged spiders will take fish in early morning or late evening when the fish move into shallows to feed. All lures of this type come in a myriad of colors, styles and sizes. A tapered leader, common for trout fishing, is unnecessary for bluegill. A 6-foot length of 2 or 4 pound monofilament is sufficient leader material. Present the lure into an area where fish are feeding and make the bait imitate an injured or struggling insect.

Flyrods can also be used to catch mid-summer bluegill when thay are in deep water. Best success occurs with a sinking line. If you do not have one, try placing a small split shot several feet in front of the fly or weighting the lure by wrapping a small amount of lead wire about the body. Cast over the area you with to cover, allowing the lure to sink to 10 or 15 feet; retrieve slowly, and set the hook the instant you feel the slightest tap or hesitation. Sometimes it is beneficial to count the fly down until you locate the right depth.

Ice Fishing

Ice fishing is another method of catching bluegill and is increasing in popularity each year. Many warm weather anglers have not ice fished, but the technique has proven to be an extremely successful method of extending the fishing season for the more ardent anglers. Standing on a foot or two of snowy ice in mid-winter may not seem to be an enjoyable form of recreation to many people, but it can be a comfortable and sporting way to avoid cabin fever during the long winter months.

The single most important fact to remember when ice fishing is to dress warmly. Even the best fishing will be ruined if you are uncomfortably cold. This is best accomplished by dressing in several layers of clothing rather than one thick garment. Clothing can be put on or taken off, allowing a fisherman to remain comfortable no matter what the temperature. Good protection for the feet and hands is essential. A pair of warm gloves or mittens, several pairs of wool socks, and a good rubber boots will help prevent the extremities from becoming cold. A warm hat with ear protection is also important.

Ice fishing gear varies from very simple to complicated. Basic gear includes: spud bar or auger, ice dipper, rods, lures, bobbers, bait, and a sled or bucket to carry gear and fish to and from the fishing spot. Some fishermen use a shelter for protection from the elements. This may be simply a piece of plywood to block the wind or a shack complete with stove.

Ice fishing rods are usually short and stiff, made of fiberglass, and equipped with 4-pound-test monfilament. They are probably the cheapest rod you can buy, costing only a few dollars. It’s best to have at least two, but several tipped with different lures are nice and handy. Rods and reels work well, but homemade ones made from a rod tip and dowel with pegs to hold line are more than adequate. Use a float just large enough to suspend your lure and bait. Lures should be small and brightly colored, with green and red the most popular colors. Live bait is a necessity for ice fishing. Waxworms, mealworms, mousies, corn borer larvae, and goldenrod grubs are all good baits.

Ice fish on lakes or river backwaters in the same places where you caught fish in late fall. Best ice fishing often occurs just after freeze-up. Fish are found in water of moderate depths and often are near weed beds. they move into deeper water as the winter progresses. A newcomer to ice fishing can locate the best spots by looking for a congregation of fishermen over traditional hotspots. Don’t fish unproductive areas longer than 15 minutes; move frequently to find concentrations. Bluegills are tightly schooled during winter months.

Use your spud bar or auger to cut a hole through the ice. An axe, often tried by novices, works poorly except in the thinnest ice. After the hole is drilled, clear the ice chips with your dipper, lower the baited lure to within a foot of the bottom, and set the bobber at that depth. Big bluegill tend to hang close to the bottom in winter and bite ever-so lightly. You must watch your float closely for bites. Often the float will rise and lie on its side as a fish picks up your bait. Set the hook immediately and pull the fish to the surface.

The bluegill is everybody’s fish. Excitingly easy to catch, they are ideal for beginners but equally fun for experienced anglers. There is no shortage of good bluegill spots in Iowa, and they are excellent eating. Bluegill fishing-try it, you’ll like it!

How To Make Bait Tips For Jigs

Here is how to make bait tips from shrimp to add flavor and odor to your jigs.

1.You will need an empty plastic quart mayonaise jar, a box of table salt, and two pounds of bait shrimp without the heads.

2.Peel all the shrimp so you are left with meat only.

3.Cut the shrimp into pieces no larger than one half inch around.

4.Pour a layer of salt a half inch thick in the bottom of the jar.

5.Place a single layer of shrimp on the salt, and cover that layer with another layer of salt.

6.Alternate layers of salt and shrimp until the jar is filled, and put the lid on tightly.

7.Allow the jar to sit for as long as possible, even for several weeks.

8.You may now open the jar and remove the shrimp, placing them in plastic baggies for storage and use. Or you may simply use the shrimp directly from the jar, disgarding the excess salt.

9.The shrimp will be toughened enough to stay on a hook, small enough not to interfere with jig action, and smelly enough to do wonders attracting fish!


1.Make sure to remove all of the shell pieces

2.Make sure to cut the shrimp small enough, but not too small.

Fishing with Your Kids

Fishing with your kids should be a fun family experience, but it often can turn into a tedious chore. Tangled lines, a lack of action, and the suggestion of going fishing with your kids can turn from excited looks into bored faces in a hurry. Trying to keep up, especially if you have more than two children, can run a parent ragged, as he or she tries to make sure lines are in the water and everybody is having a good time. Here are some tips to make sure that fishing with your kids is a worthwhile and enjoyable adventure.

First and foremost, you need to catch fish. Nothing creates the potential for boredom more than a fishing pole that just sits there with no fish biting! Pretty soon the children are wondering why they are there to begin with and fishing with your kids goes from a great idea to a very bad one in a matter of a few minutes. There are many things you can do to increase your odds of catching fish, giving the kids the excitement that will keep their interest.

Go fishing with the kids in the early morning or late afternoon; these are the peak times for most species of fish to bite. During the summer, after supper is the optimal time to gather the equipment and head to the local fishing spot. If the kids are too young to bait their own hooks and cast out, you need to forget about doing any fishing yourself and concentrate on their needs. It’s no fun for a kid to stand around and watch you fish.

Proper equipment is crucial to success when fishing with your kids. Do not bother with those “kiddie” poles that cannot stand up to the rigors of actual fishing. An inexpensive spinning reel and rod will do the trick; you aren’t going after world records, you simply want to catch fish. A spinning reel is the easiest type for a youngster to learn to cast with. If they are old enough to cast, make sure you put them in a spot way from trees and brush that will snag your child’s line and hook. Find an open area along the river bank or shore of the pond. Nothing is more frustrating while fishing than having to break your line, tie another hook on, rebait it and cast again, only to get caught up in the same branch or log!

Tips on Lake Fishing

Fish caught on a lake fall into three general headings: game fish, food fish, and forage or bait fish. Catching each one requires different equipment and/or bait.

Game fish such as bass, trout, pike, pickerel, muskellunge, pike perch, etc., all fall under the general heading of game fish. Each of these is valued for they’re sporting value. Anglers enjoy tournaments every year winning large sums of money for catching that one special game fish for that season.

Whereas catfish, perch, crappie, blue gill, some carp etc., have been considered as food fish. Even though this group of fish is not considered as the so-called game fish they do have recreational value. All one needs to do is find themselves fishing in a school of blue gill or crappie catching a fish a minute to know the true enjoyment of fishing.

Baitfish such as shad, minnows etc., are small fish caught in a sine or net and used as bait to catch larger fish. Not all states allow you to use live bait for fishing. You will need to check if it’s legal in your state when you purchase your fishing license.

If you are an old hand at fishing on a lake or a beginner it can prove to be extremely fun. For the novice it will be important to master the correct rigging, casting, type of bait etc., so one will get the best enjoyment possible from their experience. Therefore, here are some tips that could help the new angler master the art of lake fishing.

First knowing where the fish live, that is their habitat and what kinds of fish inhabit the lake you are fishing on will give you the edge to find your prey. Ask at the bait shop for Lake Maps and any information that will assist you in your quest.

Second. If you are fly-fishing remember that you are working the line not the fly. The fly is but a passenger, which is attached to the leader. Don’t snap the line like a whip or you’ll loose your fly. Instead use a smooth, snappy kind of stroke with the same type of movement as you would a whip but not as hard. Fly-fishing is an art onto itself and having the proper timing is one of the important factors in the backcast and forward cast.