“Right now is the big push for sunfish spawning,” said Gerry Buynak, assistant director of fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “This is a great time of year to fish for them.”
Bluegills are easy to find. In shallow water near the shoreline, look for whitish bowls on the bottom. These are bluegill nests. A red worm, wax worm or mealworm cast into these nests will quickly draw a strike. Bluegill also like any brush, downed trees, stake beds or weed beds. In reservoirs, they like nooks and crannies along rock walls.
Anglers using a bobber, BB-sized split shot and a number 4, 6 or 8 Aberdeen hook threaded with red worms catch millions of bluegill each year. The Popeye jig tipped with a mealworm, wax worm or red worm is a popular bluegill rig in Kentucky. This rig may be cast with or without a bobber.
An effective presentation for the Popeye jig is to tip it with a mealworm and cast it without a bobber along weed lines. When rigging the mealworm, thread it from the rear end so the hook point ends up behind the head. This part of the mealworm is tougher and helps keep the jig weedless because the hook point is hidden in the mealworm’s tough exoskeleton.
Another great bluegill lure is a tiny in-line spinner like a Rooster Tail. The small ones with the propeller type of spinner are especially effective in red, white or chartreuse. Black and orange spinners also work well. Small white, chartreuse or lime green 1-inch tube jigs rigged on a 1/32-ounce lead head also produce bluegill.
Many anglers consider crickets the best bluegill bait to use. Crickets work best with a number 8, long-shank Aberdeen hook suspended under a bobber. Move the bobber up or down the line to vary the depth of the cricket until the bobber disappears from a hungry bluegill. Keep fishing at that depth.
Farm ponds and small lakes are excellent places to fish for bluegill. For anglers who live around Louisville, Frankfort or northern Kentucky, the department has started a special urban fishing program. There are five lakes in the program, and all receive special stockings of fish. This week, fisheries officials will stock these lakes with numerous sunfish, largemouth bass and catfish.
“The fish are big,” said Kathryn Emme, urban fisheries biologist for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “They should be fun to catch. The bass and catfish are pushing a pound apiece.”
In the Louisville area, Miles Park Lake No. 4 will receive 600 sunfish, 90 largemouth bass and 255 channel catfish. The lake is located in Miles Park, off U.S. 60 across from the Valhalla Golf Course. Tom Wallace Lake, located in the Jefferson Memorial Forest off Mitchell Hill Road in southern Jefferson County, will receive 1,000 sunfish, 150 largemouth bass and 425 channel catfish.
The Upper Sportsman’s Lake (formerly known as the Upper Game Farm Lake) at Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Headquarters will get 1,400 sunfish, 210 largemouth bass and 595 channel catfish. The lake is located off U.S. 60, approximately two miles west of Frankfort.
In northern Kentucky, Middleton-Mills Park Lake, located off Mills Road in Covington, will get 200 sunfish, 30 largemouth bass and 85 channel catfish. Alexandria Lake, located in Campbell County at Alexandria Community Park, will receive 1,200 sunfish, 180 largemouth bass and 510 channel catfish.
These lakes will be stocked again in the first weeks of June and July.
For more information on bluegill fishing and the urban fishing program, consult the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov and click on the “fishing” tab.