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How To Catch Big Bluegill (Bull Gill Fishing Tips and Techniques)

Giant bull bluegill aren’t only a thing of myth and legend. These giant size bluegill not only exist, but they are lurking in your local pond or lake. In this article, you’ll learn exactly what you need to know to catch these big blue.

big bluegill

How To Catch Big Bluegill (Tips & Techniques For Giant Bluegill)

Your goal shouldn’t be to pull in large amounts of bluegill when you’re targeting the big guys. It’s highly unlikely that you will pull in a lot of large bluegill during a single trip, and you’re using the wrong tactics if you are. You’re going after quality over quantity. You want to target specific areas of the water, and you want to use baits that are too big for smaller bluegill, but not so big that the bigger ones still can’t eat them. It’s a balancing act in a lot of ways. When you’re going after bluegill bulls, you should be taking a very slow and methodical approach, similar to winter fishing. You should be treating it as if every cast is an attempt to catch a world-record fish. After all, that’s a real possibility.

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Giant Bull Bluegill Fishing Tips and Techniques

Catching bulls isn’t like catching normal bluegill. You’ll have to try a bit harder, and you’ll have to be a lot more patient. Here are a few tips that I think will help you get better at it. 

1. Spot Them First

With normal bluegill, you can randomly chuck your bait in the water, and you’ll probably catch something. There aren’t a lot of bulls in most bodies of water, though. Bluegill are constantly getting eaten by bass and catfish, and they don’t usually live long enough to grow more than a few inches. 

If you don’t want to blindly chuck your bait into the water, try to spot schools of bluegill before you start casting. If you can spot a big bluegill, don’t hesitate to start targeting it.

2. Get Some Help With A Fish Finder

If you’re fishing in a particularly murky hole, there’s no way you can spot anything worth seeing in the water. Invest in a fish finder that you can cast from your rod. Obviously, you can use your boat’s fish finder if you have one, but bank fishermen will need one that can be cast into the water. 

Try to find one that gives you actual pictures of the environment you’re fishing in. The ones that use simple symbols to differentiate between different fish can be hard to read, and it’ll be very difficult to tell what you’re looking at. If you get one that takes detailed pictures, you’ll be able to see the big bluegill.

They’re a bit expensive when you compare them to the lures you use for bluegill, but they’re a worthwhile investment when you’re targeting the big guys. You’ll be able to see where they’re at, and you won’t waste as much time by blindly fishing. 

If you want to read more about castable fish finders that are perfect for shore fishing, read my in depth guide on them here. 

3. Don’t Waste Time On The Little Ones

If you’re catching a bunch of small bluegill, increase the size of your lure or bait slightly. The smaller fish won’t go after things that they can’t swallow, and you won’t have to waste your time removing them from your hook all the time. 

Be careful not to increase your lure size too much, though. You’ll easily cross into bass territory, and your chances of catching a good bluegill will drop dramatically. The gear required for targeting big  bluegill is very similar to what you would normally use, but there are definitely a few key differences. I’m not going to talk about lures and baits right now. I’ll talk about those when we talk about the two different techniques that I personally use when targeting large bluegill. 

Gear Required For Giant Bull Bluegill Fishing

The Rod

When you’re going after normal bluegill, you probably want to use an ultra-light rod. If you don’t, they’re not really a challenge. You can still use an ultra-light rod for bulls, but I recommend using a medium-light or medium rod. When you hook into a big bluegill, it can easily overpower very light equipment. You still don’t want to use a rod that you’d use for throwing crankbaits at bass, but the extra backbone of a medium rod will help you out a lot. 

The Line

I typically tell people to use line that is rated at either two pounds or four pounds for bluegill. When you’re targeting bulls, I suggest using a four-pound test or an eight-pound test. You can use two-pound test, but your chances of losing a fish will increase drastically. The fish you’re trying to catch will usually weigh a bit more than that. If you use a four-pound line or an eight-pound line, you should be able to fight a large bluegill without worrying too much about your line breaking.

The Reel

You want to use a light spinning reel for these. The heavier reels will make it difficult to throw some of the lures I recommend. You also don’t want to overpower the fish. So, don’t bust out your Abu Garcia baitcaster to catch these. Even if you can throw light lures on it, it’ll cheapen the experience quite a bit. I don’t recommend using a spincast reel for these, either. They tend to be pretty weak, and I’ve had some high-quality spincast reels burn out trying to reel in big bluegill. A spinning reel will give you the ability to throw light lures, but it won’t be so weak that it gets overpowered.

Using Live Bait To Catch Massive Bluegill

Live bait isn’t something I recommend for targeting bulls. You can’t use worms really well because smaller bluegill will steal them long before you catch a monster, and only the smallest minnows will fit in the mouth of a large bluegill. However, it is possible to use live bait effectively, and I aim to help you do your best with it. 

Keep The Bait Alive

Try to use small minnows, and make sure you keep them alive. You want minnows that are big enough to entice the bluegill, but you also want them to be too small for bass to pay attention to them. Monster bluegill share a lot in common with bass, and they’re usually in the same spots around feeding time. You’ll have to try your best to keep the bass off of your bait. That’s not something you hear a fisherman say everyday. You can also use leeches, but I don’t like using them. They’re disgusting, and they get stolen by other fish just as easily as worms do.

Keep The Bait Active

 Regardless of which bait you use, you need to make sure your bait is very active. Larger bluegill have gotten to be so big because they’re not afraid to pick a fight. They’re not swimming around and looking for an easy meal. They want something satisfying. If your bait dies on your hook, replace it immediately. 

How To Spot Large Bluegill

You want to pick the same spots as you would for regular bluegill. The big guys swim around with their smaller siblings. However, they tend to stick to cover a bit more, and they might dive slightly deeper if there isn’t anything they like towards the surface. However, it’s a bit easier to spot these guys. If you see a big shadow in the water, and it’s shaped like a plate, it is most likely a massive bluegill. In clear water, you might be able to see exactly what it is. If you see one, stop trying to fish around the small ones, and chuck your bait a few feet away from your target. You can scare it off if you plop the bait on its head, but you should be okay if you throw it a couple feet away from it.

Using Lures To Catch Giant Bluegill

Lures are a lot more interesting to use against these guys, and they give you a little more control over your fishing experience. After all, lures don’t die, and they don’t swim around on their own. Before I start telling you how to use these, I’m going to list my favorite lures for this type of fishing.

  • BeetleSpins: If you use these, use the slightly bigger ones that come with several two-tailed grubs. That’s the size you want for big fish.
  • Small Spoons: Don’t use the big spoons that you use for bass. Choose a little spoon with a shiny finish, and tip its hook with a chunk of a worm, leech, or minnow to add a bit of smell to the spoon.
  • Inline spinners: Inline spinners are great for trout, but they’ll work well for bulls, too. Use a small one, and pick one that’s relatively flashy. The fast-paced flashes drive big bluegill nuts.

Lure Retrieval Speed

All of those lures can be used in various ways. You don’t have to use a specific retrieval method with any of them. I recommend starting with a fast retrieval. Try to make the fish angry, and force them to bite. Don’t reel it in so fast that the bluegill can’t catch up, but don’t pretend that you’re an 80 year-old man with arthritis in both hands, either. If you notice that the fish are running away from your lure, slow it down a bit. Use a slight bouncing motion to make your lure look like a small fish struggling to swim, and pause for a moment between each bounce. 

Throw Behind The Bull Bluegill

It’s important not to throw your lure directly at a bull. Obviously, you can’t help it if the water is muddy, but try not to if you can see it. You want to throw your lure behind the fish, and then work it into the bluegill’s view. It’s a much more natural presentation. You can’t expect an old bluegill to believe that smaller fish are simply falling out of the sky. 

My Favorite Bluegill Lures

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a new challenge, and you’re looking for a break from fishing for bass and catfish, I recommend targeting the bigger bluegill in your local pond. They’re hard to find, and they put up a great fight. 

Some of the biggest bluegill ever caught were big enough to fill a large dinner plate, and they weighed as much as an average-sized bass. If you take the time to perfect your fishing skills, you might just beat that.

Written by Don

When I'm not bass fishing or looking for steelhead in my home state of Oregon I can be found working on house projects dreaming of my next fishing adventure.

I started this website to share just some of the things I've learned along my fishing journey, and the many things I'm still learning. Enjoy!

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