John's Journal...

Catching Bream in the Cold Weather and the Hot Summer

Day 3: How to Catch Bluegill Bream during Bedding Season

Editor’s Note: Few people fish for bluegills in the coldest winter and the hottest summer months in the South – except for the late Steve Pope of Centre, Alabama, who was a fishing guide at Guntersville and Weiss lakes in north Alabama.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewPope always stayed with his deep-water bluegill strategy until the weather warmed-up in late March in the South where he lived, and his crappie-guiding business started to heat-up. However, often by the end of April and the first of May, when most crappie fishermen had given up their quest, Pope returned to his love of bluegill fishing and hunted for the bluegills when they went to their beds. In May, Pope would search for open areas along the banks that had no weeds. Once he located a bank like this, then he would look for the bedding bluegills. He'd cast to the bed with his 1/32-ounce glitter jig tipped with a waxworm suspended below a float on 6-pound-test line. The float also added weight to the line that was needed for casting.

"I once fished with crickets for bluegills," Pope explained. "But I learned that it seemed that if a bluegill even looked at a cricket, the cricket seemed to fall-off the hook. I constantly had to rebait. But a waxworm is tough and stays on the hook much longer. If the bluegill doesn't take the hook the first time it bites, I don't have to reel in and rebait when using waxworms. I believe that a hand-tied jig with glitter foil on it will attract more bluegills than a hair jig does or than just a hook with a waxworm on it. Once I'd learned how deadly waxworms could be on bluegills all year long, I began ordering the waxworms out of the Cabela's catalog."

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewI knew Cabela's ( sold numbers of products through its huge catalog system. However, I didn't know the company sold and shipped live bait, until I talked to Pope. After Pope received his waxworms, (white larvae packed in sawdust), if he wasn’t planning to fish with them immediately he'd keep them in the refrigerator for about 3 days. "If I'm still not going to fish with the waxworms, immediately, I'll take them out of the refrigerator after 3 days, put a little cornmeal in each container and let the waxworms eat," Pope explained. "After they've eaten for about a half-day, I'll put them back in the refrigerator and let them stay there another 3 days, or until I needed them to go fishing." By feeding the waxworms cornmeal every 3 days, Pope could keep them for an extended time.

"Often I'll spot beds in the spring that have a lot of small shells in them," Pope said. "These are shellcracker (redear sunfish) beds. The shellcrackers I catch generally will weigh 1- to 1-1/2-pounds each and will take the glitter jig and waxworms, just like the bluegills." Although bluegills prefer a clean bottom with sand on it, Pope said he had found bluegills bedding in grass too. "Often you will see a bluegill bed right in the middle of a grass bed. But overall, clean banks will always be more productive than grass beds will for bluegills."

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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (AMA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: Where Bluegill Bream Go After Bedding Season

Check back each day this week for more about "Catching Bream in the Cold Weather and the Hot Summer"

Day 1: Use a Depth Finder to Catch Big Deep Water Bluegill Bream
Day 2: Rigging for Deep Water Bluegill Bream in Cold Weather and the Summer
Day 3: How to Catch Bluegill Bream during Bedding Season
Day 4: Where Bluegill Bream Go After Bedding Season
Day 5: How Not to Catch Bluegill Bream

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Entry 707, Day 3