Catching the Spawn – Blue Gill / Red Ear
by: Wabash Valley Outdoor Team
In Indiana and Illinois the Bluegill spawn tends to be when the water is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Bluegill will move up from the depths often very hungry from the long winter slumber. At this pre-spawn stage they will feed on just about anything that is an easy catch. They will use grassy areas and dead falls for cover to ambush their pray. So, a wise fisherman capitalizes by dropping live bait such as earthworms just a few feet away from underwater cover areas.
Once the winter recovery feeding is nearing an end the spawn begins. The males will choose a spot usually in shallower areas and begin building the nests by moving the sand or dirt with their tails. The finished nest looks lighter in color than the rest of the bottom and resembles a small pot hole about a foot and a half in diameter and up to eight inches deep. The nests are easy to spot as many bluegills tend to build in the same general area and the bottom looks as though the pond or lake has been trampled by a herd of cattle.
Now that the nests are ready and the temperature is rising the females move in to deposit their eggs. When finished the females return to the safety of deeper and/or darker waters. The male stays behind to fertilize the eggs and protect the nest. This is when the male bluegills are most vulnerable. They cannot leave the nest because of the constant threat of predators. Which happens to be nearly every other creature in the pond or lake. At this point they grow hungry and are in defense mode. This IS the ideal time for you, the fisherman, to capitalize. Bluegills will attack nearly anything you throw into these nest areas. So color and type of lure is almost a non factor, however you will have to choose a hook small enough for them to get in their mouth. This is often the easiest fishing you will ever do in Indiana and Illinois. Note: when Bluegills are in this nest defense mode they will spook easily. So be careful of your sound and movement – don’t cast your shadow over the nests. They will return to the nests quickly upon being spooked but will often stop biting.