Originally native to the Great Lakes, Mississippi and Eastern Seaboard drainage systems, bluegills have been introduced across the nation. The fish is stocked for both forage and sport.
Bluegill prefer clear, quiet water where the sun is shining. Clear water means that vegetation under the water's surface can thrive, offering a home for the bluegills' food sources. Because bluegill prefer to remain close to shore, it's easy to fish for them from banks or bridges. But lakes, reservoirs, slow-moving streams and ponds are all possible habitats as well. A desirable bluegill neighborhood includes fallen timber or pilings and weed beds that provide cover.
Where you'll find these fish depends on the time of day. They feed mostly by sight, so they're most active at dawn and dusk. At midday, they're resting in the shade or staying in deep water where it's cooler.
Seasons also affect where bluegill can be found. Shallow water is a good bet in the spring and early summer months. Because male fish are protecting the nests during the spawn, they go after small lures, assuming they're predators. As summer heat increases, the bluegill move to waters more than 10 feet (3 meters) deep. This is also true in early fall. As the season brings cooler weather, bluegill more frequently come into shallow water. It's more likely that midday fishing will be successful in the fall. By winter, bluegill have moved to water between 12 and 20 feet (3.6 and 6 meters) deep. They school together near the bottom of underwater structures and don't feed as actively.
You've found the perfect spot -- now what? Check out the next section for hints on bait and lures that bluegills can't resist.