How to Fish for Deep Water Bluegills in the Summer
Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Bluegill fishing is a great way to get new people into fishing. The action is usually fast and furious, and the instant gratification and positive feedback are contagious. There is a reason if the “tug” is a drug, then bluegills are the “gateway”. Bluegills can be caught all year round on almost any type of water, but the methods and depth of water do change based on seasons. One of the best ways to enjoy some summer sun and fill a hot grease pan with deliciously breaded treats is to lean back in your boat seat, crack a cold beverage, and fill your limit.
Bluegills in the summertime in southern Wisconsin lakes have a tendency to school in deeper water. This can make the bigger ones harder to access if you are a shore fisherman, but don’t worry. Not all of the bluegills in the lake are going to leave their shallow spots. However, if you have access to a floating fishing vessel of some sort, you can have some of the hottest bites of the year. Generally “deep” water is relative to the composition of the body of water you are fishing. For most of the lakes I fish (that are 3 feet – 75 feet deep) the 15-25 foot contours are going to be holding “deep” summer bluegills.
Unfortunately just because you plopped yourself into your boat and loaded your cooler with some time killers, doesn’t mean you are going to drive out and instantly start running out of bait. One of the most important parts of this pattern is electronics. I strongly encourage you to have electronics available, specifically 2d sonar or down imaging, if you are going to try this for the first time. The bluegills will be in a general depth and schooled up, but if you can’t locate the schools with your sonar you will be disappointed. To locate the schools, zig-zag, or “s” curve back and forth across a couple of contours that straddle the 20-foot mark. Follow these contours until you come across schools of fish. The schools are a good size and when you find them mark them on your fishfinder. Once you have a mark you can come back and fish the school by drifting through the school, anchoring with rope and weight, or “spot-lock” on your trolling motor. The school will inevitably move, and you can either move with them using the same locating method or you can try and find another school.
There are many options for bait, but I have found that a small tungsten jig with a blood worm or spike style plastic works very well. Gulp panfish bait (Gulp Alive Fish Fry) is a great way to get a bit more mileage out of your hook sets and also not worry about stopping for bait. Depending on the wind, waves, or current you will probably want to run a split shot about 8-12 inches above your jig to enhance your ability to detect bites in the deeper water on such a small jig (3-4mm). For rods, you can use almost anything that has an ultralight-light action and a soft tip. You really want the rod to load and maintain hook pressure without yanking the small hook out of a very small mouth 20 feet below you.
These summer deep water schools can yield a magnificent limit of hungry large bluegills that will leave you with smile filled memories for years to come. Play your cards right and you can find your limit so fast your expectations will be spoiled forever. Summer hot spells can mean a lull in the action for some species, but keep this action-packed delicious option in your back pocket for your next warm-weather adventure.