Bluegills' prolific nature, coupled with their ability to adapt to less-than-ideal water conditions, makes them available nearly everywhere. I've caught them from backyard ponds, clear-running streams, large lakes and the slow-flowing backwaters of major rivers. A golf course near my house has four ponds teeming with the critters. When I need a quick and easy fishing fix, I head there.
Fortunately for me and for other aficionados, bluegills eat a lot. When the weather is warm, they consume about 35 percent of their body weight each week in insects, crustaceans and smaller fish.
With that sort of appetite at work, 'gills often engage in breakneck feeding binges. Anglers who show up in the right place at the right time can enjoy seriously epic fishing.
Case in point: A friend's wife got him a fly rod for Christmas. He had never used fly tackle before, and he asked me to give him some pointers.
He lived next to a golf course that had bluegill ponds. We rigged our rods and walked to one of them. After a brief casting lesson, I showed him where bluegills were likely to be holding offshore and turned him loose on them. He landed more than 30. I have no idea how many I caught. I stopped counting after 50.
My favorite bluegill spot is on a small flood-control lake in west-central West Virginia. A sunken asphalt road parallels the shoreline a few feet from the bank, and during the spawning season the roadway's shoulders teem with big, fat female 'gills and oodles of belligerent males.
It's a flat-out hoot to fish. Small poppers and streamers seem to work best. Spawning bluegills see them as nest-robbing intruders and attack them viciously. On a good day, my casting arm wears out long before my desire to keep catching fish.
So yes, I'm an unabashed fan of the so-called "lowly" bluegill, and for good reason. To me, these scrappy little members of the sunfish family are anything but a species of last resort.
They're a go-to species, and I fish for them enthusiastically - and proudly.