Expert Author Ryan B. McCaw

Ice fishing for bluegill is a very popular wintertime activity for getting outside and stretching your legs. Here are some tips to have a blast catching bluegill on the ice. The tackle and gear is getting more sophisticated each year and the time spent out on the ice can be very action packed and entertaining. One can get going with as little as an ice auger, a scoop to keep the hole open, an ice rod and a few choice jigs to be tipped with live bait is all that you need. Oh, and warm clothes of some sort are also a must. With this minimal amount of stuff you can venture out onto the ice and check it out while being highly mobile to move from site to site or even pond to pond. As you get more serious and more involved you can add to your arsenal to fit your style of ice fishing. An ice fishing shelter for warmth and electronics to see the pond bottom and fish present are great additions. Small items like ice cleats for your boots and ice picks hung around your neck for safety should you find yourself on thin ice keep you safer out there.

Target areas to fish similar to when you are fishing in open water. Bluegills are generally in those same habitats even with a solid piece of ice floating over their heads. Vegetation and edges still hold a good amount of fish searching an easy meal throughout the winter. Keep in mind that during this time oxygen levels are usually lower and the fish keep their activity to an absolute minimum to conserve energy. Live bait rules at this time of year and you have to get the bait right in front of their nose to trigger the bite. Waxies are the bait of choice as they fit great on the tiny ice jigs produced out there. One if good, two or three are even better. And give them a little squeeze before dropping your bait into the water. The juice acts as an attractant that can bring in fish to your jig and even trigger the bite as they survey your offering.

The game is vertical jigging on structure you think will hold active fish. Depths of the fish will vary from each body of water, conditions found that winter and how long the winter has lasted. The bluegills will seek out optimal temperatures, oxygen content and easy prey to make it through the hard winter months. Even though they appear to be lethargic they spring to life when hooked and will give you quite a bit of excitement bringing them up through the hole. And some claim that nothing tastes better than a bluegill caught in nature's refrigerator.

Don't let winter get you down. Get out there and catch some fish!

I am a lifelong multi-species fisherman from the Midwest. I have fished for most freshwater species of North America plus a few salt water species. While I enjoy fishing for all of these various species I inescapably return to the type of fishing I personally enjoy the most, BLUEGILL fishing. I am not a paid fishing professional or sponsored by any company, so my experiences are those of an average fisherman that has to pay for what I use fitting my trips around work and family. For more tips on bluegillfishing, please visit

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