It's officially summer in the Mountain State, and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is encouraging anglers to cast their lines and enjoy warm-weather fishing for species such as bluegill.
"Bluegill are abundant in small lakes around West Virginia and summer is a great time for anglers and their families to get out and catch one of these popular gamefish," said David Wellman, a fisheries biologist for the WVDNR.
Bluegill spawn in late spring and early summer and can be found in shallow waters when temperatures exceed 70 degrees. Wellman said spawning bluegill are easy to spot, which makes them ideal targets for families, kids and new anglers.
“We look at bluegill as a gateway fish species because they are abundant, like to bite and are easy to catch,” he said.
The good thing about bluegill fishing, Wellman says, is that it's easy to pick up.
"You don’t need elaborate equipment to go out and catch a bluegill," he said. "In fact, a cane pole with a bobber and a small hook with a worm will do."
When bating a hook, Wellman said anglers targeting bluegill should only use a piece of a nightcrawler or use a smaller bait, such as mealworms and waxworms. Bluegill also eat minnows, crayfish and other insects. When fishing for bluegill or other sunfish, anglers should us a small hook, such as a size six. A pair of needle-nosed pliers or a pair of hemostats are also recommended for retrieving hooks from a bluegill's small mouth.
"Bluegill are not picky eaters, so you have several options for bait," he said.
As for fishing techniques, Wellman said anglers should use one with which they are comfortable. Popular techniques include bobber fishing and bottom fishing.
In 2021, the WVDNR instituted a statewide 30-fish daily creel and 60-fish possession limit for sunfish in aggregate, along with several other gamefish. For more information, anglers should consult the 2021 West Virginia fishing regulations.
All anglers 15-and-older are required to purchase a West Virginia fishing license, which are available online at WVfish.com and at license retailers around the state.
Anglers should contact their local WVDNR district office for more information about bluegill and fishing regulations.