Outdoors column: Living large with giant bluegills

Late August and early September is prime time for kicking back with some monster bluegills.

Jimmy Callaman of Braham went “ricing” for this giant ‘gill.
Jimmy Callaman of Braham went “ricing” for this giant ‘gill.

Right now the ‘gills are lining up in areas that are easy to find and easy enough to fish.

The problem is that big bluegills (those pushing a pound and beyond) are a rare commodity and it takes the right stuff to produce them in enough numbers to make it worthwhile.

Some of the better lakes that come to mind are Pelican by Orr, Big Sandy by Aitkin, as well as Leech which is known more for walleyes and muskies than anything else. There’s plenty more but too small to mention and they all have one thing in common – they’re loaded with wild rice.

Wild rice lakes have enough shallow cover and enough feeding opportunities for ‘gills to grow to mammoth proportions. They can hide out for most of the season, avoiding predators and eating big which hardly happens anymore on the standard rice free lakes.

By late summer the rice ripens which brings out the rice worms and the ‘gills gorge themselves on them.

With that in mind it’s the rice that you’ll want to key on and includes the deep edges as well as weed beds like cabbage butted up against the rice.

Although it can all be good it won’t all be at the same time which means you’ll have to do some investigation and make some moves to find the most active fish.

On a nice day you can drop the Minn Kota down and creep along while you toss a bait suspended below a float and slowly but surely cover some water.

Calm water is easier to fish and panfish seem to prefer it so if you can, try and stay out of the wind.

If you have to, you can drop an anchor and strain a spot and it’s a good choice if you’ve located a pocket of biters.

Top producing baits include the teeny tiny variety like Northland Tackle’s Impulse Water Bug. It’s a one-inch plastic bait with twin tails that is designed to be threaded on a jig head like a 1/32 oz. Gum-Ball Jig.

It’s a light bait but you’re not going to be fishing that deep for the most part and usually don’t need an extra weight to get it down.

Suspend it below a float that is just buoyant enough to keep it afloat and drop it in as close to the rice or the weed edges as you can without getting hung up.

It’s a riot when the float starts to sink and you hook up with a big slab. When it heats up the floats can be constantly going down.

When the fish are a little off (and they definitely can be) you still could scratch out enough to make it fun.

See you on the water.

Ron Anlauf is a frequent contributer to the Outdoors page.

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