To get out of a small-bream rut, go deep, go big

To catch bigger bluegills, look for deeper water and use bigger baits

May is a great month for catching big bluegills, but the bite will last for the next several months. While some anglers have a knack for filling a cooler with really big bream, others can’t keep the small ones off the hook. If you seem stuck on small fish, don’t pull up anchor just yet. These tips can turn your trip around.

Ken Nutter is one of those anglers who always seems to find big bream, especially this time of year. But he said he catches his share of small ones, too; he just makes a few adjustments when that happens, and they usually result in bigger fish.

“One thing I do is start fishing deeper in the same spot. If I’m catching little bream, I will increase the distance between my cork and hook by about 12 to 18 inches, as long as the water is deep enough. I will also use a whole night crawler as opposed to a cricket or a small piece of night crawler,” he said.

If the water is not deep enough to fish that much deeper, Nutter will find water that is that deeper, but still as close as possible to where the small fish are biting.

“You’ll find a lot of beds in very shallow water this month, and plenty of beds are so close to each other that they overlap,” he said. “Some of those beds will be slightly deeper but still in the same group of beds. Bream of different sizes are all mixed in together, but I find that the bigger ones are either a little bit deeper, or they won’t bite the bait unless it is a little further under the surface.”

Another tactic Nutter often turns to when he’s having trouble keeping small fish off his bait is to start casting artificial lures along the outskirts of the bedding areas.

“Small spinning lures like Beetle Spins and Mepps can be deadly on the bigger bream. Running them straight through the beds usually pushes the fish away for a little while, but as long as you fish them on the edges, you can pick up a quality bream every few casts,” he said.

And while many bream anglers opt for spinners in the 1/16-ounce range, Nutter sizes up to 1/8- or even 1/6-ounce. He believes this deters smaller bream from biting, and the bigger fish seem to enjoy the chase of a larger lure.

About Brian Cope 229 Articles
Brian Cope of Edisto Island, S.C., is a retired Air Force combat communications technician. He has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina and has been writing about the outdoors since 2006. He’s spent half his life hunting and fishing. The rest, he said, has been wasted.