‘Bull Bluegill’ – fun to catch, great to eat

REGARDLESS OF YOUR AGE, big bluegill are fun to catch and great to eat. – Mike Roux, Nancy Roux and Ayden Dietrich photos


I did a promotional video recently for a lure company.  The target fish for that video were crappie and bluegill.  I called the bluegill “Bull Bluegill” because of their unusually large size.  I truly expect that these were female fish, but “Cow Bluegill” just did not seem right.

Let’s now take a look at the fish we call “bluegill” (Lepomis Macrochirus).  The bluegill is a member of the sunfish family.  Also known as bream, red ears and green ears, bluegill are found in virtually every stream, river, pond and lake in the country.  Their fight and their flavor make them a prime target for anglers of all ages.

I have caught a few “hybrid bluegill” in my outdoor career.  These fish are known for growing to enormous size.  Regular bluegill can grow up to 12-inches, with most being somewhat smaller than that.

As young anglers most of us grew-up using live bait for bluegill.  Red wrigglers, nightcrawlers, crickets, grasshoppers, catalpa worms and minnows, just to name a few.  Other baits I have used successfully, out of necessity, include bits of hot dog, bacon and bologna.

The baits I now prefer are artificial lures.  Many are available, making a choice both easy and difficult.  Jigs, in one form or another, are the obvious first choice.  I like ACC JIGS, either with or without a spinner.

When I am vertical jigging for bull bluegill I prefer a jig with no spinner.  I will create the jigging action by twitching my rod tip or, if there is a breeze causing motion on the surface, I will suspend my jig under a bobber.  Later in the season when the fish become more aggressive, I will switch to a cast-and-retrieve presentation, adding a spinner to my ACC JIGS.

As the water warms in early summer, bull bluegill become more aggressive in their feeding habits.  They enjoy the chase of moving baits.  Adding a spinner to your jig will make a big difference when catching big bluegill is your mission.

Now that you have a half-dozen or so “Jurassic gills” on your stringer, what is the next step?  A fish fry is in order, I would guess.  Preparing panfish to cook requires one of two methods, either scaling or filleting.  My dad likes bluegill scaled and fried whole.  He does not mind working around the bones.  I prefer fillets, especially if I have several bulls.

Cooking these tasty morsels has some variety, too.  Skillet frying is the traditional method, along with deep frying.  I can remember my Grandma Bee frying bluegill almost every weekend when I was a kid.  Grandpa Tee and I would fill a basket with bluegill and he would scale every single one of them.

I have also had some pretty good bluegill come off the grill and out of the smoker.  But Nancy Roux’s pan-fried bluegill fillets are hard to top.  Add some wilted lettuce and baked beans and you have a meal that cannot be beat.

Big, bull bluegill are out there.  Go git ya some!!

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