Bluegill – (Lepomis macrochirus)
Common Names – bream, blue bream, sun perch, blue sunfish, copperhead, copperbelly, roach.
Florida bluegill have a attitude for there size and fight better than any other freshwater species of panfish. Bluegill are fun to catch and are second to none in the frying pan. Catching a mess of big bluegill is a common event throughout the spring, summer and early fall in Florida.
Bluegill and redear fishing will be at its best during the spring. Redear should be well into their spawning season by April. Much depends upon the weather at that time. Start looking for spawning areas within five days before and after the new and full moons. Areas to check this spring will be the shallow, rocky and sandy areas throughout most of the Florida lakes. Most redear are taken on live worms. Bluegills usually start their spawning season a little later than redear. Look for the bluegill bite to start picking up in April. Lake Okeechobee, the numerous canals in the Everglades, Kissimmee River and complete central Florida area including Orlando. Beetle spins and crickets are the preferred baits for bluegill fishing.
During the spawn the large male bluegill “bull” or “copper head” as they are called locally because of the copper band that runs across their dark head are highly vulnerable to being caught easily. Bluegill during the spawn are at full coloration – dark lateral bars down their sides and a deep red chest. The male bluegill after establishing their nesting area which are usually the same spawning sites year after year, will become very aggressive. They will in fact strike at anything that intrudes into their nesting territory.
Although we talked about the months of spawning we also mentioned that weather had something to do with it. Bluegill spawning will occur when the lake water is between 70 – 75. That could be as early as March and last as late as September. The male bluegill begins building a dish shaped nest that generally is a round sandy depression that is 2 – 4 inches deep and from 8 – 24 inches wide. Bluegills gather in large colonies during the spawn. In most cases, there are dozens of nests side by side in an area of 50 – 100 square feet. Bluegill spawning activities also cycle around the full moon periods. The 5 day period before and after the full moon is a great time to catch a limit of fish.
Worms and crickets are the preferred live bait. Crickets top the list as the best live bait for bluegill. Anglers can purchase worms and crickets from local marinas.
BassOnline is the considered the largest & busiest guide service in the state of Florida, we have three main locations to service Florida. The hottest fishing lakes in Florida for largemouth bass, crappie and bluegill, also are the most famous lakes in the state for catching quality and quantity. We are located directly near Miami, Ft Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Naples, Ft Myers, Jupiter, Fort Pierce, Orlando, Tampa, Daytona and Jacksonville. This makes the fishing convenient and assessable for everyone. Fishing, it is done by everyone…but only a few do it right. Our Professional Staff, with nearly 1000 years of combined angling experience fishing Florida lakes. Whether you fish with live bait which is one of the most popular ways for many, are prefer artificial lures which can range your next trip. No other guide service can provide you with the proven success record that we have accomplished.
Additional Bluegill Information:
Description – Bluegills have small mouths and oval-shaped, almost rounded, bodies. Body coloration is highly variable with size, sex, spawning, water color, bottom type, and amount of cover. In general, they are somewhat lavender and bronze with about six dark bars on their sides. Males tend to have a copper-colored bar over the top of the head behind the eyes. The breast is silver to slightly blue most of the year, with some yellow or orange during spawning season. Females are generally lighter colored than males. Two distinctive characteristics are the prominent black spot on the rear edge of the gill-cover and a black spot at the base of the posterior portion of the dorsal fin.
Subspecies – Two are recognized: the northern bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus macrochirus), found in northwest Florida; and the Florida bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus mystacalis), found throughout Florida except the panhandle. The bluegill also hybridizes with other members of the sunfish family.
Range – Found naturally throughout Florida, and across the United States because of widespread stocking.
Habitat – Bluegills prefer the quiet, weedy waters where they can hide and feed. They inhabit lakes and ponds, slow-flowing rivers and streams with sand, mud, or gravel bottoms, near aquatic vegetation.
Spawning Habits – Bluegills are well known for “bedding” in large groups, with their circular beds touching one another. Bedding occurs in water two to six feet deep over sand, shell or gravel, and often among plant roots when the bottom is soft. Spawning occurs from April through October with the peak in May and June, when water temperature rises to about 78-80 degrees. A female may lay 2,000 to 63,000 eggs, which hatch 30 to 35 hours after fertilization.
Feeding Habits – Insects, insect larvae and crustaceans are the dominant foods of bluegills, with vegetation, fish eggs, small fish, mollusks, and snails being of secondary importance, although they may dominate their diet during certain times of the year.
Age and Growth – Growth is rapid in Florida. A one-year-old fish may be four inches long. Spawning may occur the first year. Bluegills can live up to 11 years, but most are less than 7 years old. The rate of growth varies considerably in different bodies of water. However, a six-inch bluegill in Florida is typically two to four years old.
Sporting Qualities – Because of its willingness to take a variety of natural baits (e.g., crickets, grass shrimp, worms) and artificial lures (e.g., small spinners or popping bugs) during the entire year, its gameness when hooked, and its excellent food qualities, the bluegill is one of the more important sport fish in Florida and the eastern United States. As a sport fish, specific bag and size limit regulations apply, and you can register a qualifying catch as part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s “Big Catch” program.
Eating Quality – Excellent; the flesh is white, flaky, firm and sweet. They are generally rolled in cornmeal or dipped in pancake batter before frying. Many rank the bluegill as the most delicious of all freshwater fish.
World Record – 4 pounds, 12 ounces, caught in Ketona Lake, Alabama, in 1950.