Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Monster Monster Bluegill Ice Fishing!

Today we went fishing for huge Boone and Crocket Bluegill! When targeting these monster bull gills through the ice, it is not the typical bluegill ice fishing trip with constant action. You have to have a vexilar in every hole to mark when and what depth these fish swim by and figure out what sort of jigging sequence will make em bite. They are typically pretty finnicky, and it can get frustrating to have a huge bluegill following your bait up and down and not biting! I told these guys going in that for this sort of fishing trip that they would have to work hard for these fish and bites would be few and far between. Jonn and his crew were up for the challenge and were rewarded with some big bluegills and a few bonus species as well.

We fished hard from 8 am to 5:30 pm and the guys stuck with it pretty good for only catching one fish for every half hour or so. But when they did catch a fish, it was huge! They only caught one bluegill all day under 7 inches with this ice fishing technique. This particular lake is being managed for giant bluegill so all bluegill 10" and over are photographed and then must be released back into the lake. Smaller 8-9 inchers are kept for dinner!

I have been intensively managing this 33 acre lake since 2003 and have a management plan in place that is much different than how the typical fisherman or lake owner operates or manages. Typically when a fisherman goes bluegill fishing and catches 100 fish, he will harvest the 10 biggest he catches and release the 90 smallest back into the lake. My big bluegill management plan is the opposite, I will keep and eat the 90 small ones and release the 10 biggest ones! There is a bit more to this sort of management plan than just what fish to harvest, but harvesting the right fish is key.

Genetics play a huge role in growing big fish. I like to select my biggest and best fish for reproduction, just like folks who genetically breed pigs, cows, dogs, etc for specific purposes. If you constantly are removing your biggest and most aggressive fish from a closed system, over time you will consistently only be able to grow small less aggressive fish.

Ok, enough of the boring fish info from the lake nerd. Here are some of the pics from our Monster Bluegill ice fishing trip:

At 3 pm, I decided to do a little fishing and found a crappie hole along a channel ledge. Dick and I caught a dozen crappies in 30 minutes before the school moved on!

We also had to take a break from the bluegill fishing for a couple hours and move to a different portion of the lake to target some rainbow trout. For trout we use big buckshot rattle jigs tipped with minnow heads, and a variety of powerbait, and jig/waxworm combinations in 6-8 feet of water. We also found a school of bigger trout in 18 foot of water close to a sharp drop off.

When targeting the big gills, we also caught a couple pesky largemouth, and some yellow perch and walleye. Crappie can be caught near the bottom, but typically they will suspend and hang out well above the bluegills in the water column.

This is a nice photo, but keep in mind that all the big bluegill and trout were released back into the lake.

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