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How to Catch Bluegill and Other Panfish in Southern California - Fishing in California

Updated on August 13, 2016

Bluegill Fishing Starter Kit

Ready 2 Fish Panfish Spin Combo with Kit
Ready 2 Fish Panfish Spin Combo with Kit

This is an incredibly inexpensive rod and reel combo that works well and gives you years of use. I own and fish with a few of these rods.


Tackle for Catching Bluegill

Fishing for Bluegill and other freshwater panfish is fairly simple and only requires very light tackle. Most bluegill is taken by bank anglers. Here is what you'll need:

  • Light spinning rod and reel.
  • Bobber.
  • Split shot BB sinker.
  • Hooks - #10 or #12.
  • Bait.

For bait I like to use mealworms or pieces of nightcrawlers (earthworms). Many people swear by corn and hot dog pieces. Others like to use crickets or balled up pieces of bread. Bluegill are not picky about bait and can be caught on many types of baits and lures.

To the right you will find a link to a great inexpensive starter kit from Amazon that can be used for catching bluegill and other panfish. It also works well for trout and other small freshwater fish.

Where to Find Bluegill in Southern California

Bluegill is the most abundant type of panfish in Southern California and can be found in just about any lake or moving freshwater. Inland city lakes are filled with small bluegill while the larger reservoirs and rivers have bluegill weighing over one pound.

In city lakes, bluegill can generally be found in areas where they can seek cover from predators. Usually you will find bluegill in areas with rocks or heavy vegetation near the banks of lakes. They are most active in the early to the mid morning hours, but they can be caught at just about anytime.

Bluegill Catching Techniques

Using light tackle with 2 to 4 lb test line works best. The setup is simple - tie a hook with a small bb sinker and bobber. Place the bobber in a position to keep your bait off the bottom of the lake or stream.

Cast close to areas where there are likely to be bluegill. Wait 10 to 30 seconds. If there is no bite, "pop" the bait with a quick short jerk. Bluegill like to grab bait that wiggles a bit. Give a few more pops. If there is no action, move the bait a few feet away and repeat.

If you don't find bluegill in an area, move to another area and try again. Don't spend too much time fishing the same area. Bluegill will take bait quickly. If there are bluegill in an area, you will know within a few minutes.

If You Like Fishing For Bluegill

You will probably also enjoy fishing for surfperch off the sand of our beautiful California beaches right here in Orange County. The setup is similar and the perch are abundant. They are also larger than their freshwater cousins.

If you are interested in fishing for surfperch, then take a look at my article by clicking below:

Fishing for surfperch

Have a bluegill fishing question or tip? Share below.

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