Fall Fishing For Bluegill: 10 Tips You Need To Know

Bluegill have a voracious appetite but a small mouth, so you need to tempt them with things like little jigs and spinners. Cast lures next to the weed lines, docks, or wood cover to catch bigger bluegill.  During the summer, you can find an abundance of small bluegill in hot shallow water, but big bluegill seek cooler temperatures, often found in the depths. However, once the weather turns cooler in the fall, and water temperatures start dropping, the big bluegill move briefly to the shallows again to feed. The fall will often produce the largest bluegills of the season, and once you find one, there is usually a lot more. Using the right rigs and presentations in specific target areas will yield the most fish. We’ll help break down the process behind targeting big fall gills in 10 simple steps.

Here are 10 tips you need to know to catch more bluegill this fall. 

10) Target Shallow Cover

When big bluegill move to the shallows, the fish seek shelter around any available cover. Prime cover for bluegill includes docks, laydown logs, stumps, lily pads, and grass mats. 

9) Think Small

Credit: David Yang

Bluegill have a voracious appetite but a small mouth, so you need to tempt them with things like tiny jigs and spinners. Cast lures next to the weed lines, docks, or wood cover to catch bigger bluegill.  

8) Offer The Real Deal

Live bait is hard to beat when big bluegill are foraging in the shallows.  Live bait anglers will find success by fishing redworms, minnows, waxworms, grasshoppers, or itty bitty pieces of nightcrawlers suspended under a float. Slip and pinch on bobbers work well for targeting shallow water panfish, but a pinch float’s collapsibility when it retracts makes it much easier for fishing near cover and brush. 

7) Float Your Bait

big fall bluegill

The easiest and most effective way to catch big bluegill in the shallows is to float your bait under a bobber. Crimp a split shot about 6 inches above your bait and attach a fixed bobber another 1-3 feet above the split shot depending on how shallow you find bluegill.  Make sure you use as small of a bobber as possible to allow the bluegill to easily pull the float under the surface.

6) Try Fly Fishing

Credit: David Yang

Fall is a great time to try fly fishing for bluegill when the bigger fish are in the shallows. Some flies to try are nymphs, dragonflies, poppers, soft hackles, wooly worms, wet flies, and small streamers.  Wind can be a problem in the fall so you will need to use a heavier fly line during this season. 

5) Follow The Transitions

As water temperatures continue to drop by late fall, dying weeds in shallow water create lower oxygen levels so bigger bluegill move to deeper water to find more favorable conditions. The fish will move out to depths of 15 to 20 feet where they will set up on deep weed lines, drop-offs, and points.

4) Rely On Your Electronics

Big bluegill congregate in large schools during late fall and are easy to find with reliable electronics. Once you find the school, mark a waypoint to help you stay close to the school while casting or vertical jigging for the panfish in deeper water. 

3) Tipping Baits For Deep Fish

Tipping a small jig with a mealworm, wax worm, or a piece of nightcrawler works best for fall bluegill in deep water.  When fishing deep, cast to any cover first to catch any bluegill suspended over the cover and then move in closer to vertical jig for any fish holding tight to the cover. 

2) Experiment With Different Colors

Try various colors when fishing jigs or spinners in shallow or deep water until you find which hue bluegill prefer each day. Try flashy or bright-colored lures in murky water, but opt for more natural colors such as brown, black, green pumpkin, or watermelon for fishing in clear water for autumn bluegill. 

1) Use Light Fishing Line

When fishing deep for bluegill in late fall, you should rely on light line to detect the slight taps of bluegill when the water gets colder and the fish’s metabolism slows. Spool your spinning reel with 2-4 lb line to help you feel those light bites. 

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