Bluegill / Sunfish
Bluegills and sunfish provide a lot of sport and good eating for anglers of all ages and abilities. I’m amazed at how anglers will freeze out on the ice in order to catch a few gills yet when the air temps are in the 70s and the weather is beautiful no one is out chasing these panfish. Pound for pound they are terrific fighters. Cayuga Lake has some exceptional panfish. It isn’t hard to catch a mess of 8″ bluegills and sunfish on Cayuga Lake. I think the toothy critter (pike/pickerel) population in the Fingers keeps the panfish from stunting. When I worked at Bass Pro Shops I met plenty of excellent anglers and angling personalities/specialists. Brian “Bro” Brosdahl is well known amongst ice fishing aficionados. He is a great guide and occasionally does procurement fishing for aquariums. He told me that he’d rather catch a bunch of 10″+ bluegills than a big musky! He loves chasing and catching monster panfish! Who can blame him? A 10″ bluegill is a rare fish.
The best Finger Lake I know of for giant bluegills is Honeoye Lake. 10″ers used to be fairly common through the ice there! Those are BIG bluegills! New York State is revamping its panfish regulations with certain lakes being designated as “trophy waters” with increased size limits and reduced bag limits. I think it’s a good idea and Honeoye Lake is on that list. Check your latest fishing regulations before venturing out here if you’re chasing bluegills/sunfish and/or crappies.