After just coming home from the Upper Peninsula and having a preview of the fall weather we will be expecting soon in South East Michigan, it reminded me of one of my favorite tactics for bluegill fishing in the fall…….DRIFTING FOR BULLS!
Why are big bluegill called bulls is a great question, and a lot of folks ask it. Its because they have SHOULDERS, big brawny backs that start right behind the eyes to form a hump like a big ol’ bull buffalo. These are the bad boys that folks refer to as paper plates, because they will cover up a paper plate. And…..fall time is the prime time like many species to catch the big ones!
It only makes sense that like walleye and pike, that the prey type fish that taste so good should be putting on the feedbag to bulk up for winter too. So not only are the big predator type fishing being more aggressive, this is the time that bigger gills and perch are stocking up the reserves, as well. The right time to get out there and catch a fish of a lifetime, that big ol’ humpback gill. I did mention that they taste GREAT too, right?
So, I just get back from a great two week trip to the camp in the Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I am catching pike, muskie, smallmouth, perch and big bluegills! In both cases I am trying for a different species when twice I find prime spots for big gills. Here’s the set-up that rocked the gills.
As most of you guys ‘n’ gals out there know I represent Northland Tackle, they make great products for anything from ice fishing to big toothy critters like muskie. Been with them for 10 years and for good reason, the product catches fish! So deep in the national forest, fishing lakes with short vegetation below. My train of thought is focused on walleye and smallies, so I rig accordingly. I break out some 1/2 ounce Roach Walker type sinkers for the drifting part of the program, some 8 pound fluorocarbon and my favorite floating livebait jig, the Screw-Ball Floater jig.
When I caught this one I was using my 7 foot medium light St. Croix Avid spinning rod and it fooled the heck out of me, truth be told the way it fought and stayed down I thought I had a 3 lb smallie on the line. Kid you not, it was pulling drag on my Daiwa 2000 Procyon! When I saw the bright colors flash from the side of the fish, I knew I had found a new honey hole for bull gills!
This approach has worked down here in the lower half of Michigan for years, its a no brainer that it worked up north too. So when late September and early October comes around, hit the waters and catch some monster gills!
One added note, .3 mph using the electric trolling motor seemed to be the right speed for landing more of the bigger fish. Try it out, adjust if need be, but do not pass up what the late panfish bite has to offer!