Part Fifty-eight

Redbreast Sunfish

Fishing Bluegills [Bream] in Summer

By Tom Keith
Excerpt from: Fly Tying and Fishing for
Thanks to Frank Amato Publications!

As spring turns to summer, the days get longer, hotter and more humid, and the fish change their daily routine. They spend the hottest parts of the day in deeper, cooler water or in the shade of submerged weedbeds, and then move into shallow water in late afternoons and evenings to feed. If it is really hot, that movement can be relatively slow, and often the sction doesn't pick up until 8 or 9pm. During these times fish stay in shallow water only as long as the temperatures are relatively moderate, which may be only an hour or so.

To be successful during midsummer, try fishing early in the morning where weeds and grass grow in shallow water. Start with a size 10 or size 12 McGinty or Black Gnat wet fly to locate fish quickly. Always approach the spot by getting into the water a good distance away and moving as slowly and as quietly as possible to avoid disturbing the fish. Begin casting from a good distance and don't get any closer to the area the fish are using than is necessary.

If you happen to be on the lake during one of those infrequent cooler summer days that sometimes occur after a long period of scorchers, try using a size 12 or size 14 Adams Irresistible dry fly. Cast it as close to cover or vegetatopm as possible to imitate an insect that has fallen from the weeds and is floating in the water. Depending on the weather conditions you may have fast-paced bluegill fishing for an hour or so, or the action may last only a few minutes. It's in your best interest to play the percentages - when you catch one fish from an area, continue to fish there. Bluegill like company, so when you catch one fish from a particular spot, odds are there are others where that one came from.

There is a small cove on the east side of Pawnee Lake, just a few minutes drive from Lincoln, Nebraska, that is fairly shallow, and has abundant weed growth along the entire shoreline. The slender trunk of a long-dead tree protrudes from the water in the middle of the cove, maybe 10 to 12 yards from shore. My son Jim and I found the cove early one summer morning and thought it looked like a good bluegill spot. We experimented with several fly patterns, tried fishing several spots around the cove and enjoyed catching a few fish. Then Jim cast a weighted size 10 Improved McGinty wet fly at the tree trunk. Jim is a pretty accurate caster, and the fly landed just inches from the spot where the tree sticks out of the water. The fly slowly sank below the surface and a couple of seconds later BANG! He had a fish. It was a good-sized bluegill and gave Jim a spirited tussel before he finally landed it.

Bluegill Habitat

He put the fish in his basket, cast at the tree again and caught another bluegill. After he had landed his fifth or sixth fish on nearly as many casts, I decided to try that spot too, and started casting to the tree from the opposite side of the cove.

If my cast landed within a few inches of the tree I could nearly count on a strike, but if I missed the mark and my fly landed more than a couple of feet away, nothing happened.

We took several more fish from that spot, and then decided to try another place on the lake we always like to fish. We returned to that cove several more times during summer and fall that year, and always caught fish, though the action never matched the fishing we found that first morning. Sometimes the dead tree would hold fish; sometimes we'd find them near vegetation along the shoreline, sometimes they were in an emergent weedbed off the cove's north shore. They weren't always in exactly the same spot, but we always found them somewhere in the small cove.

We fished that small cove many times in the following 4 or 5 years until Jim enrolled in college in another state. I've located other good bluegill fishing spots and haven't returned to that cove since the last time Jim and I fished it. One day when our schedules allow a fishing trip or two, we'll fish it again and I'm sure we'll find plenty of hungry bluegill waiting, probably in the same spots we fished years ago. ~ Tom Keith

More SUMMER next time!

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