My love for Bluegill and or Sunfish started more recently. As a kid I never fished for bluegill. Even though that is a really common way parents get their kids started fishing, my dad never wanted to fish for bluegill and often referred to them as cat food. So I thought they just weren’t worth fishing for. Once I started getting back into fishing and really learning about it, I heard a couple different people say that bluegill are some of the most delicious tasting freshwater fish, and I decided I wanted to try.
The first time I went looking for them, I was alone at the lake, on the shore but near a lot of tall grass. I was using a lure that looked like a very small grub and I spent all day trying to catch them. It was quite fun, but I realized this is a very under-rated fish. They are actually pretty smart. I would toss my line out and 5 or 6 fish would swim up to look at it as soon as it hit the water, but they would take one look at it and swim away. I caught one that day. One! I spent all day playing that game. I didn’t bring anything with me but severa small lures and nothing was working. They might take nibbles at it, but they weren’t fooled. They knew it wasn’t food. This little game of cat and mouse, though, taught me so much about fishing. Often we put bait or a lure on and we cast and retrieve and recast and we have no idea what the fish are doing. Watching this… I knew if I just had a worm on that hook, they would bite. Even though I only caught one decent sized bluegill I went home feeling so great! I had had such a fun day! I did go home and eat that blue gill and was very very pleasantly surprised at how good they are. They are really great eating fish. They are smaller and there are a lot of bones. I can pick the bones out, but my two daughters weren’t really into that. So I tried filleting them. You know? They are really easy to fillet and you can take all bones out… They are delicious. (This is now both of my daughters favorite thing to do. To catch them and eat them.)
After my super fun day of catching only one bluegill I decided to do it right. So, the next week I took my oldest daughter with me. I bought worms and made sandwiches for our lunch. We came home that day with over 20 bluegill and one catfish. We started keeping track of what we caught and making it a competition of who could catch more. We even came up with a scoring system. Bluegill are 1 point, bass and catfish are 5 points and if you have a fish and it gets off, you lose a point. At the end of the day the person who caught the largest fish gets an additional 5 points. No kidding, she caught 13 and I caught 12 fish that day. (She won!) And we came home and ate our sandwiches because we were out of worms and done fishing before lunch. We didn’t keep every fish we caught, but it was more than enough. I filleted them and cooked up half and froze the other half for later.
At this point my youngest daughter wasn’t really into fishing. She wasn’t as interested in going with me as my older daughter was. After that day she decided she wanted to catch fish too. So, I took her out the following week. This time we weren’t as successful. It was a colder day, I think, and they just weren’t as active. But she caught one fish! and it is still the record we are all trying to beat. Her very first fish that she ever caught was a 10.5 inch Red Ear Sunfish. (We still brought home about 10 fish, it was just a slower day.)
The following week I took my youngest daughter out again for a redo and that day was much more productive. We didn’t keep score or make a competition out of it. We just had fun catching fish and she caught more than one and had a lot of fun. So much so, that she asked me to get her her own rod and reel. So, now I take my kids fishing and we have a great time. Then we come home and eat what we caught. It’s a great way for me to get my kids out and to be active and spend quality time with them while giving them experiences they will grow from and always remember.
Whenever we go out people always ask what we are fishing for and if we’ve caught anything good. So often when I tell them we are fishing for bluegill and sunfish they act like those fish aren’t edible or worth catching. That’s fine. More for me. Here in Arizona there is no limit and no size restrictions so we have a good time catching and bringing home fish and it doesn’t bother me that people may not get it. However, I’m going to share my experiences in this blog and maybe, I’ll change your mind. Get out there and just have fun. See what you catch and make memories.