Blades for Bull GillsBy: Bob Bohland
Bluegills by their very nature are both curious and vicious. They are comparable to piranhas in the way they will seemingly attack and chase everything that moves, regardless of size. How many times have you had a small pack of bluegills attacking your big bass or muskie bait boatside just because it had a little extra flash to it? Many assume that this is just something little bluegills do out of curiosity, but the big bulls will do it as well, they are just a little more selective about what they attack.
Enter the Lindy Rig, a perennial favorite for targeting walleyes and saugers everywhere from the sand and mud flats of Mille Lacs to the open spaces of Lake of the Woods, but few have ever thought to use it for catching bull bluegills. Yet it is the perfect lure for finding big bluegills in the summer and fall when they become nomads. The reason a Lindy Rig works so well is the multitude of ways in which it can be fished. Speed is only a factor as long as you can keep the blade spinning, and depth is no factor as it can be fished up at the surface to as deep as you are willing to send it.
Lindy Rigs don't necessarily have to pulled behind a bottom bouncing/walking sinker. One of my favorite way to fish them for bluegills is to put a small split shot one to two feet above the spinner with a twister tail on the hook and cast it along weed edges. You can skip the weight if you want to fish the inside edge of the weeds, or add a small rubber core sinker if you want to fish a really deep weed edge. The great thing about casting a Lindy Rig into the weeds is that the spinning of the blade will make the rig semi-weedless. If you are getting bites that aren't holding on, swap out the twister tail for a leech, small worm, or even a minnow, but generally, staying with plastics will deter the smaller bluegills in an area from attacking.
When the water warms above that 75 degree mark, the big bluegills often separate themselves from the rest and go deep to off-shore structure. This is when it becomes time to fish a Lindy Rig like you would for walleyes. Depending on the body of water you are on, the bluegills could be sitting on mud flats or they could be near sunken islands, or rock bars. The fish often will not want to travel too far to get to their summer and fall haunts, so look towards structure that resides near where you found them while spawning. Speed is good for locating a pod of active bluegills. When you have a lot of water, it helps to go through it quickly. Bluegills are not shy this time of year, so going as fast as 2 mph isn't out of the question. When you find a pod of fish, mark them on your GPS and refine your tactic by going back and forth through the school at different angles. This will help you determine the size and location of the school with each pass/fish caught. It also helps to change out colors during each pass until you find that one magic color that will slay them. With the quick change clevis on Lindy's new spinner, it is very easy to just snap a new color or size on, and since there are 12 different color combinations you can match the forage type on any body of water.
When the late-summer and fall panfish doldrums come to call, take a page out of a walleye angler's playbook and put a blade on your line. You will be able to target for the biggest bluegills in your lake at almost any depth you desire, and who knows, you may even get a bonus roughfish such as a walleye.