Everyone always asks me where to find the big bluegills. In the spring they can be pretty easy to find because they are focused on only two things; spawning and eating. You will find them early in the season, just after ice-out, in the warmest water because that is where the food is going to be located. These areas tend to be shallow, dark-bottomed bays or shoreline areas on the north side of the lake or large bay that you might be fishing. The angle of the suns’ rays at this time of year warms these parts of the lake more quickly than others and as the water and lake bottom warm up so does the activity of the zooplankton and aquatic insects that bait fish and panfish feed on. Once the temperatures get warm enough, the bluegills will begin to establish their spawning beds on sand or gravel bottomed shallow areas. With the crystal clear water we have on Bass Lake, the beds are easy to spot. The males will clear off a small area on the bottom for the female to deposit her eggs. Since bluegills are colony spawners, you will see a series of these small little nests in a circular pattern that is reminiscent of the dimpling on a golf ball. I’d like to mention at this point that when the fish are on the spawning beds they are very vulnerable to over-harvest and we need to make sure that we leave them alone during this time so that we ensure a good spawn for future year-classes of fish to sustain our fishery. If you can find new submergent vegetation or the remnants of last year’s weed line you may very well find fish there, too, as these elements provide cover and attract baitfish.
Once spawning is over, the big bull bluegills tend to move to adjacent offshore structure such as the sunken islands out in front of our resort and spend the rest of the summer on these structures. The best producing spots tend to be the ones that are the largest and have significant weed growth on them. Bluegills, in my experience, are creatures of the edge and fishing the weed edges along the sides of the sunken islands and openings in the weed beds tends to be the most productive. I’ve found that if you are catching smaller fish, moving a little deeper along the base of the weedline will usually put you in contact with larger fish. That being said, there is always a population of large fish relating to the many points and shoreline weed beds found throughout the lake. I always tell my guests that if it looks fishy, FISH IT!
It is my belief that the secret of the success of big bluegills on Bass Lake is no secret at all. It has been a committed program of stewardship on the part of both the DNR and the members of the Bass Lake Association. Several years ago a five fish limit was imposed on the lake as well as the establishment of protected spawning beds on the north and south ends of the lake. As I mentioned earlier, fish are extremely vulnerable to over-harvest at this time due to being so concentrated and visible. Limiting the number of fish that can be taken in conjunction with protecting fish during this vulnerable time have been instrumental in preserving this incredible resource.
If you want to experience some of the finest bluegill fishing that NE Minnesota has to offer and a great family vacation, give us a call. We are a family-oriented resort with something for everyone in the family to enjoy. We’re pet-friendly, too!