Bluegills as bait

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Rich Stern

Well-Known Member
Feb 26, 2000
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The last couple of outtings, Jeanne and I were at the lake without any live bait and decided we wanted to downline some minnows. I don't carry a cast net, so we used a hand held minnow net and some breadcrumbs to trap some minnows, mostly small bluegill.

Yesterday, we managed one small striper on one of the bluegills, but had slow action after that. Most of the live bait anglers on Lanier use blueback herring and shad. Wondering how good a bait bluegill is for stripers or other predators? There are other bait fish than can be caught with my handheld minnow net. I should forego the easily swiped bluegills next time?
Rich -

My favorite bait for flathead catfish is bluegill. Small ones 3 to 4 inches. I catch them in a plastic minnow trap using saltines to attract them in. The flatheads in the picture in the Grab Bag were caught using blugill.

Rich, bluegills make excellent bass bait. I used to fish ponds that way. Hook the bluegill right behind the dorsal fin with a large worm hook. Fish it about 2 feet deep under a bobber large enough to keep the bluegill from pulling it under but, not so large that the bluegill can't tow it around. Pitch it out there and let it swim around. Slight pulls will cause it to change directions. Try getting it to swim into cover and that bobber will disappear in a hurry.
I use a flippin stick and heavy line. That's the only way to get em' out of there.
You also might want to try cutting off some of the fins on the bluegill. It makes them swim very erratically and gets that big ones attention.
Not sure about other states, but here in Fl it is against the law to use Bluegills as bait as they are considered game fish. For some reason Goldfish are also not allowed.

Russ, good point, but didn't see that mentioned in the Georgia 2001/2002 fishing regulations publication, so I think we can use 'em here.
Bluegill make excellent bait for Lake Texoma striper (Oklahoma/Texas). As with any bait, size, season and a few other factors play into the picture as far as productivity goes. Also, it's my opinion that Bluegill are one of the best catfish baits there is (specifically flathead and blues).

One thing we do is scale the Bluegill from the dorsal to the tail. It puts even more smell into the water to draw-in those really big whisker fish.

As far as I know, it is not illegal to use Bluegill for bait here in OK land (unless I totally overlooked it in the regs).

Regardless, great fishing and God Bless.

John K.
I must retract my earlier statement that it is against the law to use Bluegills as bait here in FL. I just read the latest regs, and where it used to say "game fish, carp, and goldfish" may not be used as bait, it now states "Black Bass , Carp, and Gold Fish or any part of" may not be used for bait. I guess it pays to read them once in awhile. LOL

Russ, does that reg include the little crunchy/salty goldfish, or just the live, pet-store type? :)
Now that you mention it, those crunchy kind might even be better than dog food for netting shiners.


BTW, I'm at work now and you can see how busy I am :)