Some of the best bluegill fishing in America may be within easy walking distance of your house—and possibly not even outside your subdivision.

Quality golf courses are well-fertilized. When the fertilizer from the greens and the fairways washes into golf course lakes and ponds, that fertilizer adds plenty of nutrition to grow big bass and bluegills in ponds that are rarely fished. Most golf courses close down one day per week for maintenance. You may be able to gain permission to fish in golf course waters that usually are stocked with both bass and bluegills.

When a local golf course is closed for maintenance, ask for permission to fish its lakes and ponds. You may surprised at what you find.
When a local golf course is closed for maintenance, ask for permission to fish its lakes and ponds. You may surprised at what you find.

“John, you have to wear a collared shirt and some kind of dress slacks,” my good friend, Jim Cunningham, told me. “You can’t wear blue jeans or shorts. This is the rule at these golf courses we’ll be fishing.” Jim belongs to several country clubs. While playing golf, he’s noticed bluegill beds in the golf course lakes. “I’ve got written permission from the president of the country club, and I’m good friends with the grounds keeper,” Cunningham explained. “They said they hardly ever see anyone fishing for bluegills.” In a morning’s fishing, three of us caught our limit of big, fat bluegills.

Another advantage of fishing for golf course bluegills is all you really need is a five-gallon bucket, a supply of healthy nightcrawlers, an ultralight rod and reel, No. 6 hooks, and four- to six-pound-test line. You can carry your water, snacks, and extra tackle in a plastic sack in the bucket. Then, when you start catching bluegills, you can take the plastic sack out and fill the bucket up with freshly-caught bluegills, take the bucket and the fish back to your vehicle, and put them in your ice chest.

“Since the lakes we’re fishing are fairly clear, and the bluegill beds are shallow, you can’t get close to the bluegill bed,” Cunningham reported. “If you do, you’ll usually spook the bluegills off the bed. So, I make a long cast, lay my rod down, back up the bank and watch my line. When the bluegill comes back to the bed, it will take the bait, and I can see my line twitch. Then, I’ll quickly go down the bank, set my hook, and reel in the bluegill.”

Since most golf courses have more than one lake on them, when the bluegills quit biting at one lake, you can move to one of the other nearby ponds and fish. If the golf course has three or four lakes, you may be able to fish all four lakes twice in a single day and catch plenty of bluegills. If you’re a member of the country club or golf course, you often can rent a golf cart on the day the course is closed and ride the golf cart with your rods, tackle, and ice chest in it from lake to lake.

I’m convinced that some of the best bass and bluegill fishing are right in our own neighborhoods. Golf courses all over the nation have plenty of bluegills and bass that anyone rarely, if ever, fishes for, and all you need to do to fish there is get permission. You may be able to catch bluegills every week close to home and enjoy a fish fry.

To get John E. and Denise Phillips’ Kindle eBook, The Best Wild Game & Seafood Cookbook Ever: 350 Southern Recipes for Deer, Turkey, Fish, Seafood Small Game and Birdsclick here.

Images by John Phillips

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