Florida Bluegill Fishing Charters
In this post I will discuss Florida bluegill fishing charters. Many anglers visit Florida and take advantage of the saltwater fishing opportunities, and for good reason. However, Florida offers anglers fantastic freshwater fishing as well, and it often goes under utilized. This is especially true when it comes to fishing for bluegill and other panfish.
Read more about Florida bluegill fishing
My name is Capt. Jim Klopfer and I have been a fishing guide in Florida since 1991. Most of that was done in saltwater in the Sarasota area. However, as I got older I really came to enjoy the peacefulness and solitude of freshwater fishing. The scenery is fantastic as well. While I certainly pursue largemouth bass, there is a special place in my heart for bluegill fishing.
One of the reasons that I run Florida bluegill fishing charters is that success is virtually guaranteed. Unless weather and water conditions are terrible, anglers can expect to achieve some level of success. Also, while bluegill are available to anglers in most of the states, Florida offers larger than average bluegills when it comes to size along with good numbers as well.
Florida bluegill fishing charters
One great aspect of bluegill fishing is at the end result is often a tasty fish fry. While I enjoy a fresh fish dinner as much as anyone, I do want to make it clear that my charters are not about strictly “getting your limit”. Florida regulations are quite liberal and it comes to bluegill and panfish, allowing anglers to keep 50 fish per person. I am not keeping 100 fish on a two-person charter. I certainly don’t mind if anglers keep enough for dinner, I just want to make it clear that the trip is about catching fish and having fun and not loading the cooler.
Anglers of all ages and skill levels can enjoy Florida bluegill fishing charters. The steady action that bluegill fishing usually supplies is excellent for younger kids who have a shorter attention span. However, it is also very appealing to older anglers as well, who enjoy the calm peaceful waters where bluegill thrive as opposed to making long runs in open water with a rough chop.
Techniques used on Florida bluegill fishing charters
There are several techniques that I use on my Florida bluegill fishing charters. I personally prefer to fly fish whenever possible. Bluegill are an excellent species for novice fly anglers to practice on and gain some confidence. I also enjoy casting small lures on ultralight tackle. When the client and conditions dictate, I will certainly use live bait, which in most cases is worms or grass shrimp.
Fly fishing for bluegill is great fun! After just a few minutes of casting instruction, most anglers can get enough distance to catch bluegill. The good news is, this is only 15 or 20 feet, long casts are not required. As I mentioned above, this is an excellent opportunity for those interested in fly fishing to learn on a fish that’s fairly easy to catch on fly. Most of the action takes place on the surface, which just adds to the fun.
I use a 4wt outfit when fly fishing for bluegill in Florida. The only reason I don’t go a little lighter is that quite often largemouth bass in the to pound to 4 pound range are hooked. This 4wt rod and reel combination gives anglers a fighting chance to land a decent bass or other species. I only use a floating line, which makes picking up and casting the line easier. Popping bugs, sponge rubber spiders, and tiny streamers are the top producing flies.
Fishing for bluegill with lures
Clients catch a lot of fish casting lures on my Florida bluegill fishing charters as well. In fact, this is the approach that I use most often for a couple of reasons. Ultralight spinning tackle is easy for all clients to use, no matter what the experience level. It is an easier method of fishing that fly fishing. Casting lures is also a better option on windy days or on charters where I have two anglers.
I use a 6 foot or 6 1/2 foot ultralight spinning rod with a matching 1000 series reel and 4 pound monofilament line most of the time. I will bump it up to 6 pound line if the water is stained or if pesky largemouth bass keep intercepting lures meant for bluegill. Even the smallest fish put up a nice little battle while larger hand sized bluegills are tremendous fun on this ultralight tackle.
I keep the lure selection pretty simple. There are a handful of baits that I use that will produce and every situation. My top lure is a 1/16 ounce black Beetle spin. This is just a miniature spinner bait. It catches big bluegill and everything else that swims. My second choice is a tiny chartreuse curly tail grub on a very light jig head. When trophy bluegill are the quarry, I will have my clients cast very small Rapala plugs.
Fishing for bluegill with live bait
There is no question that live bait is very productive when chasing bluegill and other panfish. There are definitely situations on my Florida bluegill fishing charters where I opt for live bait. These can be trips where the bite is just a little off or when I have inexperienced anglers who get tired of casting lures. The two live baits that I use most often are worms in the grass shrimp. The worms I purchased in the grass shrimp I usually catch myself.
I use the same ultralight spinning tackle when using live bait as I do when casting lures. The rig is quite simple, consisting of a hook and a small float. At times I will add a tiny split shot a foot or so above the hook, went fishing in deeper water. This is as basic as fishing gets with a still a lot of fun. There’s something inherently exciting about watching the bobber disappear than feeling a feisty fish on the line! This is a type of fishing that anybody can do and enjoy.
Waters fished on Florida bluegill fishing charters
I am based out of Inverness Florida, This is an hour or so away from Orlando and Tampa and 45 minutes from Ocala. The short drive is worth it to escape the crowds, especially during the season. The waters that I fish do not get a lot of pressure, especially on weekdays, and offer great scenery and productive fishing.
Read my article on fishing in Inverness, Florida
If I had to pick one lake or body of water to fish the rest of my life to go fishing for bluegill and other panfish, it would be Lake Panasoffkee. This is a tremendous lake for both bluegill and numbers of bass. Conveniently located just west of I 75, the lake is very accessible for anglers coming from any direction. Access is also very good, with ramps at several parks and the fish camps. Bluegill are plentiful and both numbers and size and the lake also gives up some large shellcracker (redear sunfish), crappie, stumpknocker, and other panfish species.
Lake Panasoffkee is a fairly easy lake to fish as well. It is your typical Florida dog dish leg, being quite shallow with a lot of aquatic vegetation. This results in fairly easy fishing is angler simply work the holes in the weeds as well as edges and weed lines. Beds of submerged hydrilla are also productive. This is a pretty lake with very little development on it and gives anglers a true Florida fishing experience. Almost all of these Florida bluegill fishing charters produce a few bass as well.
The Withlacoochee River is a gorgeous old Florida River! It is fairly long and flows from Silver Lake to the dam at Lake Rousseau. I fish various sections of the river from 44 launch near floral city all the way up to Dunellen. As with all River fishing, the water height and flow have a huge impact on the fishing. Also, I avoided on the weekends when air boat traffic can be heavy.
Anglers seeking a relaxed and quiet fishing charter with spectacular scenery will do well to choose a trip on the Withlacoochee. It is easy fishing, with most of the casting being done towards the shoreline edges and vegetation, very little was done out in the middle. Bird life is abundant and cypress trees and other plant life are spectacular. It is an excellent option when windy days make fishing the open waters of lakes a bit more difficult. The river also has good numbers of smaller bass and crappie.
Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes
The Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes consists of three main lakes connected by shallow rivers. In effect, this whole area is basically one big swamp with some deeper lakes mixed in. The three main lakes, or pools as a are termed, are Floral City, Lake Henderson in Inverness, and Hernando in Hernando. All three lakes have good access via nice parks with boat ramps.
The Tsala Apopka lakes are an excellent choice for anglers wanting to’s Dick around near the Inverness area as well as those staying out closer to the coast around Crystal River and want to do a freshwater fishing charter. When conditions are right, these lakes can offer some excellent bluegill fishing, as well as producing other species such as crappie and bass. Water levels are crucial to the success of fishing in these lakes.
In conclusion, this article on Florida bluegill fishing charters will hopefully give anglers the information they need to get out and enjoy fishing for these feisty little game fish!