How to Catch Bluegill

Bluegill, a small pan fish also called "bream", are a plentiful, and often easy to catch fish. Although they seldom get over one pound in weight, when caught in deep water, they have a lot of fight for their size.


  1. Image titled Catch Bluegill Step 1
    Choose a cane pole or light-weight rod & reel, 2-6 pound test line, and a small, barbed hook (sizes #6, 8, or 10) with a bobber (for fishing for shallow or suspended fish) attached 12–18 inches (30.5–45.7 cm) from the hook, with a small split-shot sinker attached 8–10 inches (20.3–25.4 cm) from the hook.
  2. Image titled Catch Bluegill Step 2
    Use live bait (Pan fish worms, Wax worms, night crawlers, baby crayfish 1-2in, small minnows 1in). Crickets are a great bait and very cheap at the local bait shop. Or try fresh bread. These fish love bread! Just mash it around the hook into a hard ball. You'll lose a few, but it's easy and fairly cheap. A good way to keep stale bread on the hook is to make a peanut-butter sandwich on 1 piece of bread, fold it in half, and tear off little pieces, mashing it onto and concealing the hook.
  3. Image titled Catch Bluegill Step 3
    Wake up early in the morning. You should already be out on the boat at sunrise.
  4. Image titled Catch Bluegill Step 4
    Watch your line or bobber for any movement. These fish can be very gentle biters at times, especially in cool weather, and with a nibble or two, your bait will be gone if you are not paying attention.
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    Set your hook gently. The fish you expect on the other end of the line has a small, tender mouth, and jerking the line too hard will snatch the hook from the fish's mouth.
  6. Image titled Catch Bluegill Step 6
    If you prefer, use a small lure or even a fly. Small, black or dark-colored ones work well. Bottom fishing (using several heavy sinkers close to the hook), drift fishing (for running water), or fly fishing are some options.
  7. Image titled Catch Bluegill Step 7
    Small spinner baits like Beetle Spins or Mimic Minnows will also catch bluegill, and by trolling these or drifting while you cast, you will cover a larger area in a shorter time, hopefully discovering a "honey hole", or a location where these fish congregate in numbers.


  • One of the best baits for a bluegill is red worms. In some locations, meal worms, golden meal worms, catalpa worms, crickets, and even maggots are effective. You can use caterpillar too.
  • If you are looking for a big fish you might want to use the guts for bait too.
  • If you are looking for a bass or a catfish you want to use the baby bluegill for bait, where they are legal.
  • If you are looking for small bluegills you want to fish by the shore near some kind of structure or cover where the small fish can hide from predators.
  • In late summer and early fall, they move out to deeper, cooler water. They often swim in schools.
  • If you don't like touching bugs use whole kernel corn it is very cheap and they love it.
  • In cooler seasons, larger bluegill stay near or in the shallows, and spawn there as well.
  • The aquatic insects bluegill eat prefer clearer water with abundant underwater plants.
  • Fishing is best in the daylight, when they're most prone to feed.
  • In some areas, it is legal to bait (chum) bluegills and other panfish or non-sport fish. This can be done either from shore or a boat, by throwing out rabbit feed pellets, cottonseed meal cakes, or chicken laying mash. Doing this at a regular fishing hole frequently over a period of days or weeks will almost guarantee you successful fishing.
  • Sometimes they will snap at an empty hook.


  • Also be careful when getting a large bluegill out of the water, as their sharp dorsal spines can cut your hands.
  • These fish have many small bones. Use caution if you eat them!
  • Be careful when dealing with hooks: they can get stuck in your hands.
  • Do not keep the scales on the fish or the head, because your gum might get cut and you can get sick by eating the eyes on the head.

Things You'll Need

  • Fishing pole
  • A bobber or cork, or other float
  • Bait
  • Net
  • Hooks
  • Lures
  • Weights (sinkers)
  • Knife
  • A basket or stringer
  • First aid kit (optional but recommended)
  • A place to go fishing you can find bluegill almost anywhere

Article Info

Categories: Fishing