Bluegill offer great late spring fishing

Bluegill Offer Great Late Spring Fishing  

By Lee McClellan

It is Kentucky Derby week, a fantastic time of year. Summer is around the corner and families start to go on summer vacations shortly.
Taking your kids to catch some hand-sized bluegill is another great aspect of this time of year in our state.
“A lot of your bigger male bluegill are moving up into the shallows,” said David Baker, Central Fisheries District biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “It is an excellent time to take kids out and get them excited and hooked on fishing.”

Bluegill in the shallows doing their reproductive dance brings some of the fastest fishing found. “Bluegill are close to spawning and definitely willing to strike bait suspended under a bobber,” Baker said. “We manage the smaller state-owned lakes in our district for good panfish populations.”

Two of those lakes lie in Grant County, 92-acre Boltz Lake and 96-acre Corinth Lake, and hold good bluegill populations. “Corinth rebounded from the shad eradication a while back and is doing well for bluegill,” Baker said.

He said 158-acre Beaver Lake in Anderson County is full of 8-inch and longer bluegill. “Fish tight to cover and under the cedar trees for bluegill on Beaver Lake,” Baker said. 

Herrington Lake, a canyon-like 2,500-acre reservoir in Boyle, Garrard and Mercer counties, is another productive bluegill lake in central Kentucky. Herrington is a fly rod anglers haven as bluegill strike sponge spiders or small cork poppers presented in the cuts along the rocky bluffs that line long stretches of the lake. Watching hand-sized bluegill hit these topwater lures and fighting them on fly fishing gear is excellent sport.

In eastern Kentucky, 1,131-acre Fishtrap Lake in Pike County earned an “excellent” rating for bluegill in the 2019 Fishing Forecast produced annually by the Fisheries Division of Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. This lake holds trophy bluegill in the 11- to 12-inch range. Dewey Lake, an 1,100 acre impoundment in Floyd County, has a stable population of bluegill 7 inches and longer.

In western Kentucky, 48.5-acre Pennyrile Lake in Christian County possesses an excellent population of bluegill larger than 8 inches, recent population surveys revealed. This lake has no boat ramp, making it a fantastic spot to fish from the bank or from a kayak.

Barren River Lake covers 10,000 acres in Barren and Allen counties and holds impressive numbers of 6- to 8-inch bluegill. Fish near woody cover, stump beds or weedlines in the backs of coves for these fish on Barren River Lake. 

The smaller state-owned lakes offer excellent bank fishing for bluegill as do the 44 Fishing in Neighborhoods (FINs) lakes scattered across 28 Kentucky counties. In addition to these lakes, farm ponds and subdivision lakes often hold good populations of bluegill.

If one has access to a boat, Kentucky Lake is arguably the best bluegill lake in Kentucky. The lake holds fantastic numbers of 6- to 8-inch fish with many larger specimens in the population.

Target the back reaches of coves in May on Kentucky Lake. Those with some flooded timber and an overhead canopy make the best spots. Look for freshly swept depressions in the bottom, indicating bluegill nests. You can catch bluegill all day long from spots like this on Kentucky Lake.

Suspending a wiggling redworm impaled on a size 6 Aberdeen hook under a bobber still works extremely well for bluegill, as it has decade after decade. 

Feather jigs tipped with a wax worm or a cricket suspended under a bobber also work well for bluegill. If bluegill get finicky, bottom fish a redworm impaled on an Aberdeen hook near weedbeds. You may also pick off a few redear sunfish with this presentation.
The bluegill are in the shallows spawning. For those who want to catch fish after fish, there is no comparison. Remember to purchase your fishing license​ if you haven’t already.