CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Bluegills are about the coolest un-cool fish on the planet.
There, I've said it. Yes, the same guy who has caught steelhead in Alaska, redfish in Florida, bass in North Carolina and trout throughout most of the Rocky Mountains is, and shall remain, an unabashed fan of the lowly bluegill.
I like bluegills because they're generous.
When bass have lockjaw and trout are being snooty, bluegills cooperate. When fishing for one of the glamor species involves a lengthy road trip, bluegills are just minutes away. When weather conditions are less than ideal, bluegills put on slickers and weather the storm.
Granted, bluegills aren't top-end predators like muskies or largemouth bass. In fact, bluegills occupy a spot only a few rungs off the bottom of the food-chain ladder.
Creatures toward the lower end of the food chain tend to 1.) be small; 2.) be abundant; 3.) get eaten by larger creatures; and 4.) feed opportunistically on even smaller creatures.
Bluegills exhibit all those characteristics, and therein lies part of their charm.
Let's address size. Yes, bluegills tend to run small. If one tips the scale at just 1 pound or more, it qualifies for a Division of Natural Resources Trophy Fish Citation. But what 'gills lack in size they make up for in spunk.
Their flattened, oval-shaped bodies help them seem much larger than they are. When hooked, they turn their bodies in a way that makes them difficult to reel straight in. A couple of years ago, I hooked a 9-inch bluegill and a 13-inch bass on consecutive casts, and I sincerely believe the bluegill put up the better fight.