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5 Winter Bluegill Fishing Tips & Techniques (Cold Weather Bluegill)

large bluegill fish held in hand

How To Catch Bluegill In The Winter

Fishing in the winter is usually pretty difficult, but it is possible, and it can be very productive. However, if you’ve only fished for bluegill in the summer or fall, you might be a little surprised when you notice that they’re not practically jumping into your boat in the middle of winter.

Bluegill slow down just like every other type of fish when the water’s temperature drops to incredibly low temperatures. And to successfully catch these bluegill, you’re going to have to adjust your strategy a little bit. Here are five tips to help you do that.

5 Tips For Winter Bluegill Fishing

1. Spot Them First

If you read my guide for catching bluegill in the fall, you probably know how murky the water can get the closer you get to winter. Luckily, all of that should clear up once winter really settles in. My favorite fishing hole is completely opaque during the fall, but it’s as clear as a pristine swimming pool in the winter.

That incredibly clear water will help you out a lot. Instead of driving around with your fish finder or chucking a rod-based fish finder around all day, you can simply look for fish by sight fishing. If you have trouble seeing or are visually impaired, you’ll probably still want to use a fish finder, but it’s not necessary if you have decent eyesight. You should be able to see them moving around.

You will want to use a fish finder if your favorite fishing hole is particularly deep, though. The bluegill will likely be in the deeper areas, and even if the water is clear, you probably won’t be able to see a tiny bluegill 20-feet under it.

2. Try Jigging

If it’s winter time, I don’t suggest using any technique besides jigging to catch bluegill. The fish will be way too lazy to chase a lure around, and live bait will die within a few moments of hitting the water.

Your best bet is to grab a small jig head, tip it with a small chunk of a worm, and slowly bounce it right in front of a fish. If you want a little more action, use a Popeye jig. They’re the ones that have colorful skirts made out of buck hairs or a synthetic equivalent.

If you really want to go all in with jigging, then you’ll want to be sure and use a rod and reel designed for that. Be sure to check out my article, The Best Rod and Reel Combo for Bluegill and Other Panfish.

3. Move Slowly

If you’ve ever stood outside in 20-degree weather with no clothes on, you know how the fish feel during the winter. In short, your jig is not their main priority. They want to conserve energy, stay warm, and try to stay alive.

They will come after your jig if you present it in a way that makes it look like an easy snack, though. Slowly bounce your jig a single time, pause for a few moments, and then bounce it again. Repeat that process until you get a bite. If the fish are really lethargic, they won’t bother chasing something that is acting like a five year-old kid who just chugged Mountain Dew.

4. Use Small lures and Jigs

During the summer months, you can use any lure that will fit in a bluegill’s mouth. During the winter, it’s best to use smaller jigs. 1/16-ounce jigs have been the best for me. They’re pretty tiny, but that just makes them look like a really easy meal. If bluegill don’t think they’ll have to work hard to get some food, they’ll be more likely to eat.

5. Use A Cane Pole

The bluegill aren’t likely to be swimming around as much during the winter. They’ll most likely be suspended in one area. That makes it one of the best seasons to use a cane pole.

It’s a lot easier to hold a cane pole when it’s cold out, and you won’t have to worry about your reel getting locked up. You’ll also benefit from the large amount of precision that a cane pole offers. A cane pole will allow you to put your jig in the exact spot that you want it.

Just be sure to bring a longer cane pole. Big bluegill like to suspend in the fourteen to fifteen-foot range, and you’ll need a cane pole that is that long to reach them.

Final Thoughts

Every fisherman knows how hard it can be to catch anything during the winter. That’s why most fishermen break their rods down, and they call it a day until warmer weather hits. However, that presents a unique opportunity to fishermen that aren’t afraid of a little cold weather.

The lakes are usually pretty lonely during the winter, and that gives you more space to move around, and enjoy a time when it’s incredibly peaceful. You might be surprised by how easy it can be to catch bigger fish during the winter, too.

More Bluegill Fishing Articles

1. Ultimate Guide To Fishing For Bluegill

2. Tips For Catching MASSIVE Bluegill

3. Best Rod and Reel Combo For Bluegill

4. Top 10 All Time Best Baits (And Lures) For Bluegill

My Favorite Bluegill Lures

Many folks have emailed me asking what my favorite bluegill lures are. So, below is a list of my all time favorite bluegill lures. Feel free to check them out over on Amazon. You can read more about them in my article The Best Bluegill Fishing Bait And Lures of All Time.

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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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