It’s officially summer in the Mountain State and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is encouraging anglers to cast their lines and enjoy warm-weather fishing for species such as bluegill.

“Bluegill are abundant in small lakes around West Virginia and summer is a great time for anglers and their families to get out and catch one of these popular gamefish,” said David Wellman, a fisheries biologist for the WVDNR.

Bluegill spawn in late spring and early summer and can be found in shallow waters when temperatures exceed 70 degrees. Wellman said spawning bluegill are easy to spot and can be readily caught around vegetation or woody structures along shorelines, which makes them ideal targets for families, kids and new anglers.

“We look at bluegill as a gateway fish species because they are abundant, like to bite and are easy to catch,” he said. “Bluegill are also attractive to more seasoned anglers and catching one that’s nine inches and larger is a real challenge.”

How to Catch a Bluegill

The good thing about bluegill fishing, Wellman says, is that it’s easy to pick up.

“Bluegill fishing can be simple — a cane pole with a bobber and a small hook with a worm will do — or you can really get into it and invest a lot of time and money,” Wellman said. “It’s really up to you.”

Bluegill mainly feed on zooplankton, worms, crustaceans and insects. Wellman said anglers targeting bluegill should only use a piece of a nightcrawler or smaller baits, such as mealworms and waxworms. When fishing for sunfish, such as bluegill, anglers should us a small hook, such as a size six. A pair of needle-nosed pliers or a pair of hemostats are also recommended for retrieving hooks from a bluegill’s small mouth.

“Bluegill are not picky eaters, so you have several options for bait,” he said.

As for fishing techniques, Wellman said anglers should use one they are comfortable with. Popular techniques include bobber fishing, using small spinner baits or fly fishing with poppers.

Bluegill Fishing Regulations

In 2021, the WVDNR instituted a statewide 30-fish daily creel and 60-fish possession limit for sunfish in aggregate, along with several other gamefish. In addition, all anglers 15 and older are required to purchase a West Virginia fishing license, which are available online at and at license retailers around the state.