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Bluegill Back-Up

When you're short on how long you can be on the water, it's always best to cover water fast, then have a back-up plan should your primary species refuse to play the game. I always look to maximize the time I have on the water when I'm on it and hope that the fish will respond in kind.

But it's called fishing, not catching and sometimes plans require changing or you need to have another idea in order to get on active fish, be it bass, walleye, perch or bluegills. If you have a good tackle bag, it's easy to pack for multiple species. If you don't, or have a smaller watercraft, like a kayak or pontoon, then it requires some more improvisation.

On my most recent trip, I was again trying to target bass and pike on Stockade Lake. Knowing that I only had a few hours to catch anything and then either keep trying or move on for panfish. I hit up rocky points and weed covered areas much like last time, but the predators were not about to show me the same courtesy they did last time.

After a few hours, I decided to go to the back-up plan and head to the east side of the lake. That required me to load up the pontoon quickly and store most of the gear and head to the launch in a short window of time. After launching again, I grabbed out my Vexilar FLX-28, a small tackle box of ice fishing lures and my St. Croix Avid Glass ice fishing rod. It was time to try some vertical jigging with the Vexilar out of my pontoon.

Anchoring in twelve feet of water, after seeing some marks show up from my SonarPhone T-pod sonar, I set the transducer into the water near my seat and used a Northland Tackle Mitee Mouse jig and put on some Mummy Worms from Eurotackle and started jigging in between the pontoons.

The wind was starting to come up which made staying in one spot difficult and I would lose the lure on the screen regularly because of it. But I was still seeing marks below and getting lots of hits. After catching a few small 'gills and losing some of the worms, I switched to a Maki Jamei plastic in the hopes that the bait stealing bluegills wouldn't be able to get the plastic off as easily and had a solid red mark come up and smack the lure!

It turned out to be a very nice 'gill and it turned the morning from a big zero to a good one. After that one was released, I did manage to catch several more perch and 'gills before it was time to pack up and head home. The back-up plan had saved the day fish-wise and I was happy to have changed plans after the bass didn't pan out.

And now, I'm even more ready for the frozen water than ever! You just can't not use the Vexilar in this manner and not want to get on the hardwater sooner rather than later. So have some different plans if things don't pan out. You might still be able to turn a failed trip into a successful one.

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