Spring Bluegill Spawn
Spring is an excellent time to catch monster bluegills. With the hardships of winter ending, the bluegill's attention turns toward feasting to gather energy for the bluegill spawn. Conditions are optimal for a fisherman to take advantage of this frenzy of activity since the bluegills will be less cautious and more voracious than any other time of the year.
Pre-spawn activities begin when the water temperatures approach 60 degrees. The bluegills will move up from the deep winter haunts following weed lines, dead-falls and whatever other cover they can utilize to make a stealthy move to the shallows. They will take every opportunity to feed and build strength for the rigors of nest building, attracting a mate and defending the brood. During this time very little can interrupt the feeding frenzy, only prolonged cold snaps will slow them down.
The spawn will follow the feeding phase when waters warm a bit more. The males will move into the nesting sites and start to prepare a nest to draw a mate. The nests usually appear as light colored "elephant tracks" surrounded by the darker bottom all around. The bigger females remain close to the nesting site in the adjacent deeper water. After the water warms a few more degrees, the spawning begins with the females moving in to deposit their eggs in the prepared nests and then returning to the deeper water. Males remain on the nests after the eggs have been deposited and fertilized to protect them from predators. They are scrappy fighters that will take on fish much bigger than themselves such as bass and catfish to keep their young safe. At this time they are more likely to attack your jig just to move it out of their nest rather than to eat the bait. The end result is the same though, a hooked bluegill.
These shallow bluegills will be spooked easily, so whether you shore fish, wade or go by boat tread carefully and quietly. Spooked fish may remain on the nest but will develop lock jaw that will frustrate the bahgeebers out of you.
Please practice responsible fishing when targeting nesting bluegills. They are very vulnerable and can be decimated at this time. Removing all of the large males can actually irreversibly affect an entire population of bluegills. In effect, you are artificially altering the natural selection process that produced the big guys in the first place. Once the DNA for big bluegills is lost, it cannot be replaced in that pond or lake without introducing new fish and allowing them to disperse their genetics. That could take years and may cause other problems if not done correctly. By only harvesting some of your catch and releasing many of the larger bluegill, you can have a feast while allowing the fish to continue to finish the mating process.