I DO NOT have this bite figured out and by no means can speak as an authority.  Something is always bedding on Okeechobee….bass, bluegill, talapia/goggle-eyes, and Asian armored catfish.   There is a cycle and way of life in the lake, in all lakes I suppose, that mirrors this to some level.  You notice bass beds become bluegill beds or talapia/goggle-eye beds.  The beds get re-used.  Sometime I’ll share what I do with the 3:16 Rising Son around bedding bass, but for now, just wanted to share a nice one I got on Okeechobee over the weekend.  It’s NOT easy out there for me.  Okeechobee is on a fickle cycle for a swimbait guy.  Lots of algae bloom, weird color water, bad wind, overgrown and choked out.  The good black clear water I like to fish is really hard to come by.  The fish are more ‘outside’ grass edge oriented and ideally, I’d have nice black clear water, or inside grass pools with enough depth and life to hold fish.    The bite right now, as usual, is a flipping and punching bite.  That is how you will win on Okeechobee.  If tide and time completely come together and you make the right moves during a 4 day event to pull it off, I think a sight fish/swimbait bite could beat a pure punching bite.  I missed my opportunity, twice, at the Tour level to prove and show that.   I have nightmares about it. It haunts me, and that is no joke.

See the light spots on the bottom?  Those are the 'beds' that get recycled during the year, bass>bluegill>talapia>etc
See the light spots on the bottom int he bottom 1/3rd of this photo? Those are the ‘beds’ that get recycled during the year, bass>bluegill>talapia>etc

I am fishing in and around the Monkey Box, Harney Pond, North Shore area and I found some big hydrilla beds with clean water and bedding bluegill, that is all I can tell you.  Hydrilla seems to be key for me, and I know was key for Brent Ehrler when the Tour was here and he finished 2nd.   And Lord knows I could/should be punching, I just love the challenge of finding swimbait fish.   The bite is way more a flipping bite and pitching jigs at the reeds.  Anyway, I’ve found some bluegill beds (I think) in some thick hydrilla fields, and the water is by far the best black water I have found,  and the water is fishable.  The grass is not topped out  in some pools and you can swim a bait thru it quite nicely.    The 3:16 Sunfish (the Bluegill color is killer too) is a favorite bait of mine. I fish it with a 1/0 ST-36 Owner Stinger Hook, and 65# Braid, M Action 8 footer,  and a Curado 300.  It has a very down the line, nose down swim, which is amazing for a line thru bait with a 45 degree angle of attack between hook and line thru insert in the bait, that you’d think would bias more upward.   The bait does not swim up or plane up, it really keeps its depth and drive ‘right’ on the straight grind.  You don’t have to be overly technical to get the right down the line swim out of the bait, and can stall, snatch and buzz/burn it along too.  It’s just a great bait, and I’m learning that May/June is bed time for bluegill all over the South, including Florida.  You need to be throwing bluegill baits, and the post-spawn time of the bass tends to lead into the bluegill/brim spawn, which tends to be when the heat is setting in, mid Spring style.   I catch fish on the 3:16 Sunfish and 22nd Century Bluegill right now.

Notice the round and honeycomb nature of the bluegill beds.
Notice the round and honeycomb nature of the bluegill beds.


The Florida sun has been quite nice lately.  Mid to Low 80s, but the wind has been relentless.  Keeping it simple and setting my boat down 2 minutes from the launch ramp was a good decision.  I 'live' in Lakeport on weekends.
The Florida sun has been quite nice lately. Mid to Low 80s, but the wind has been relentless. Keeping it simple and setting my boat down 2 minutes from the launch ramp was a good decision. I ‘live’ in Lakeport on weekends.
Blood sweat and tears, literally.
Blood sweat and tears, literally.
I have been working hard out there, glad to get a good bite
I have been working hard out there, glad to get a good bite



Bluegill, brim, sunfish, shellcrackers—-and whatever other derivatives of a panfish, are excellent swimbaits.  They are relatively new to me.  I haven’t spent near the time chasing ‘bluegill eaters’ as I have chasing trout eaters.  Why?  Because trout eaters are the biggest bass you’ll ever catch in your life.  But bluegill eaters are very important because they are more universal and more common in more waterways across the country and globe.   Which also means they have more of a tournament implication and can be part of the tournament swimbait/bigbait conversation better than trout baits.

“Get in me belly” … tasty morsel 22nd Century Bluegill. Very nice universal paint job, profile, tail and swim. Don’t fish bluegill baits, I want it all to myself.


The 22nd Century Blugill is a beautiful little bait.  It’s not a huge swimbait.  In fact, it’s only 5 inches long, 1 and 5/8ths inches tall, and weighs approx 1.75 ounces total, so it isn’t a magnum bait in size, profile and vibration.    There is something to be said about the size of a bluegill bait.   Bass instinctively seem to have a threshold based on their own size, as to how big of a bluegill they will eat.  Why?  Perhaps it’s because a big bluegill will get lodged in the bass’s throat, and suffocate/kill the bass.     In any event, small and compact bluegill baits in the 5″ range seem to be ‘right’.  You probably aren’t going to catch lots of double digit bass on bluegill swimbaits.   Feel free to prove me wrong and provide as much photo and video evidence as possible.  But, you are going to catch a lot of 3-8 pounders, which are good fish anywhere, and are excellent tournament fish.

The 22nd Century Bluegill is from the Triple Trout family of baits. The influence is clearly there, including the pauses, turnarounds, and cutbacks, but the bait swims so fluid on the straight grind, it’s a nice ‘chunking and winding’ style bait because it just swims fluidly for days.

The 22nd Century Bluegill swimbait is a standard sinking hardbait from the Scott Whitmer/Triple Trout family of swimbaits.  It has the same 3 piece make up and has the same swim signature, to an extent of the the Triple Trout.   The bait fishes excellent on the straight reel.  Just buzzing it along like you would a spinnerbait or swim jig.  Just reel the thing.   But of course, you can throw the cut backs, the 180 degree turn arounds, stalls, and pauses into the bait, which give it advanced swimming and fish appealing action to anglers with the skills to make the bait work for them.   The swim is rather tight, because the joints and pieces of the bait are small and compact.  The swim doesn’t have the wide carving S-turn swagger that the Triple Trout does, but you can see the relationship and family ties.   In the very last few seconds of the above video, the music stops and you can hear the noise of the 22nd Century Bluegill.  With the tight compact swim, you get a lot of clicking and clacking out of the bait.  It’s a loud bait underwater.  I am totally unqualified and unprepared to measure audio levels and decibels and things about underwater sound, but just from my experience doing underwater video work, the 22nd Century Bluegill is a noisy and clanky bait.

“Six Foot Peaks!” … the 22nd Century Bluegill is part of a wave of energy known as the “bluegill eaters”, that I’ve been working on and off for years, but quite a bit in 2012 along with the 3:16 Sunfish. “So you wanna fish pretty good, yeah? ‘Trow da bluegill baits brah”

The 22nd Century Bluegill is a perfect example of a swimbait that I rig with the Owner ST-56 Treble hooks.  The ST-56 Treble hooks are needle point hooks, 3X strong, and a good fit for baits where I cannot get away with using the Owner ST-36 Stinger Trebles for fear of bending out the lighter wire hooks on the swimbait gear (rod/reel/line) I’m throwing it on.   So, my advice is use Owner Hyper Wire Split Rings (#4s front and back) and change the hooks to a number #2 up front and #4 in the rear.   That way, you’ll catch the < 4 pounders well, but when you get into the > 5 pounders, you won’t be bending out a hook leaning on a good fish to get control of her, which will likely cause the fish to pull off and get away.  You probably want to invest in a pack or two of replacement tails for your 22nd Century Bluegill.  You need the Small Triple Trout replacement tails, they are the ones that fit the 22nd Century Bluegill.   Color is up to you.

“Neener neener neener…..catch me if you can”

2012 has been a year where I’ve gotten back in touch with line thru swimbaits and bluegill baits. I’ve spent a good amount of time exploring the bluegill bait bite on places like Okeechobee, Seminole, and in the Ozarks.   Bass eat bluegill really well, and when you add spawning time into the mix, the bluegill creates a territorial/adversarial bite factor you don’t get with other baits.  Bass will quite simply instinctively bite a bluegill that gets around their bed/nursing area, because bluegill tend to be thieves who survive on eating bass eggs or bass fry.   Bluegill work in packs, in schools, where the sheer numbers of them overwhelm the lone male and female bass.    There is a lot to be explored and documented when it comes to bluegill swimbaits, but let me be clear and say I think they are awesome and absolutely worthy of your time and money to invest in.   They get bit, they catch big ones (not teen sized fish, usually, but still, bigguns), and since bluegill are so prevalent in places with bass, they are a good universal alternative to trout baits, the world over.

Scott’s bluegill has a killer paint job. I love purple in my baits, and this ‘sunny’ has plenty of purple, and a great scale pattern. It’s realistic and looks great in clear or off colored water.


The gratuitous profile shot, giving you a good feel for the bait. 5″ Long and 1 and 5/8″ tall at the tallest point. You’ve got Scott’s rotating hook hangers, and of course I rig with Owner Hyper Wire Split Rings (#4), and a #2 ST-56 Owner Treble up front, and #4 in the back.


The Owner ST-56 are a compromise between the ST-36 and ST-66. More on this all later, but I recommend this hook when you need small hooks ,< 1/0 and are fishing with 8 foot rods, big line and tend to get into bigguns.


The 3:16 Lure Company Sunfish is a bait I reconnected with this year.  I had fished it before, but after some sitting and thinking about some things, simplification and just expansion of the bigbait journey, I realized the bluegill/brim/sunfish space was something I needed to focus and commit to.   I tied the 3:16 Sunfish and hit Okeechobee this past winter, and immediately picked up where I’d left off with the bait some years ago on places like Lake Otay.   Let me be clear, you need a bluegill/brim/shellcracker/sunfish swimbait approach, especially around the spawn.    So, the 3:16 Sunfish (and you should know that the 3:16 Bluegill is the exact same bait, just poured in a different color.  Both baits are killer. I just like a little chartreuse and watermelon green in my life whenever possible), is a fish catcher.

The 3:16 Lure Company Sunfish. A great swimming bait, booted tail with lots of lift which helps get it up around shallow grass, yet, you can still sink it out and slow grind it back for a more mid water column retrieve. The bait can definitely be burned and it still runs amazingly true, as per the fast water section of the above video clip.

I fish the 3:16 Sunfish on a medium action 8 foot rod, moderate fast, parabolic style, 965 BBR G-Loomis Rod with a Calcutta 300 TE Reel.  I am using 65 Pound Power Pro Braid (no mono leader as per in the video, yet….I’m still messing around but straight 65# braid is awfully good) and one single 1/0  ST-41 Owner Treble Hook.  Why the ST-41?  I feel like the ST-41 Treble Hooks are excellent when fish load up and just eat a bait. you don’t ‘skin hook’ or barely hook fish on the 3:16 Sunfish.  They eat the whole damn thing.   If I’ve only got one hook, and I’m getting 4-6+ fish, which is common, I need one strong hook and the ST-41 has worked well for me, especially when matched with 65# Braid.   You could definitely use the ST-36 Owner Stinger Treble here too.  I am constantly trying new things and just sorta testing and seeing what works and what doesn’t and found the single 1/0  ST-41 Treble Hook to match this bait and how I’m fishing it on braid really well.

Slashing and Burning. The tail of the 3:16 Sunfish and Bluegill is a ‘slasher’ as far as I’m concerned. It’s like a buzz saw. But it’s got a lot of twist in it too, so what do you call a twisting buzz saw? A twistbuzzstersaw. Say that 5 times fast!

The purpose of this Swim Signature series is to provide an underwater and slowed down look at various baits, big and small.  Not to critique or necessarily ‘review’ the baits, at least, not yet.  This is an objective, here is this bait swimming in the water look.  You can form you own conclusions, but I suggest you might pick one or four of these 3:16 Sunfishes up.  They are softbaits, they fish really well, you can catch a bunch of fish per bait, and you will see in some future productions, they catch nice size and numbers.  For $12.99 you get a lot of bait that will be worth the money, and I’m about 99.99% sure your bait will run true, as per Mickey’s packaging and quality control standards. His baits just swim bang on out of the box.   Bass inherently have a contentious relationship with the panfishes, which means they tend to eat them out of anger and hunger, which tells me I need to be throwing them, especially when trout are not an option.

What do Paul McCartney and the 3:16 Sunfish have in common? They both love to twist and shout. “You know you twist so fine!”


“Che Seville”

Album: The Left Hand Side

Usage Courtesy:  Body Deep Music