We all have old fishing rods lying in the corners of our garages and storage sheds. Many have a big ole bobber hanging on the line, along with a plain Aberdeen hook and a split shot or two. While it brings back great memories there is a better way that is cleaner and a more efficient way to fish.

The first thing that really changes is the bait itself. Look at some of the new tungsten ice fishing jigs. There are many on the market now and many will weigh the same as that old split shot that is lost in the bottom of a tacklebox. Using these jigs allows the angler to have better-weighted jigs in a very small size. If you’re like me, I can never seem to find the right-sized split shot, and many times split shot will tangle with the hook when flipped toward a favorite spot. A single tungsten jig under a slip bobber is extremely simple and incredibly effective. I like ice jigs with hackle tied on (hair). It simulates hatching insects and bluegills will literally tear the jig apart in the warmer seasons.

The next question is, what type of bait should be utilized on a tungsten jig this summer?

I prefer waxworms. Yes, with a little searching they are still in many bait shops and with many large live bait companies now wholesaling throughout our state. One of their biggest attributes is they won’t dirty the pontoon or fingers like crawlers do. Take them out of the sawdust for the morning of fishing and return them if there are any left. Chances are they will all be gone, and boat and fingers will be clean.

There are also several plastic baits that could save the day if there are no waxies to be had. Bloodworms look like they are too big for panfish to inhale, until you use them. Bluegills love them! There are also many shrimp-shaped plastics with legs protruding that work well. Tip of the day— soak plastics in fish scent attractants. There are many on the market that work very well and will help put more bluegills in the livewell.

The presentation for this setup is also important. Learn to use a slip bobber. Slip bobbers allow anglers to fish virtually any depth because the line “slips” through the center of the bobber until it hits the bobber stop. Anglers can set the bobber stop at any depth they prefer. The bobber stop is usually a piece of rubber that is threaded on the line with a wire loop. Thread the fishing line through the hoop and pull the bobber stop, and it will slide down right onto the line. Now, the angler can set it at 15 feet for those bluegills hanging just outside deeper weed beds, or quickly adjust the bobber stop up for shallow shoals where bluegills may be bedding. The adjustment is quick and there is no retying to worry about.

This year should be a tremendous year for panfishing in Michigan. Our winters in Michigan have not allowed us to ice fish like we usually do. In fact, the last two years have been very limited. When I look at my fishing spots, if 20 anglers are on our bay and even only a few limit out, we are still taking hundreds of fish out per day. Multiply that by 2-3 months in a normal ice fishing season and there could be thousands removed. These fish are all still there and they are big, and they are hungry.

Bluegill fishing is a main entry point for kids to start fishing. Here is hoping you get your kids out for some bluegill battles. It will put a smile on everyone’s face. I’ll see you on the water.