Bluegills can easily be caught in the spawning season in late May or early June.  Fish bluegill nests, but don't overlook the edges of weed beds, brush or similar cover in the water. Try around brush and submerged tree limbs. Winter is a great time to fish for bluegill. You may need to cut several holes in the ice to find fish hiding near the bottom. Expect fast fishing action once you find the bluegills. Visit the DNR website for more ice fishing tips.

Use ultralight tackle with 2- or 4-pound test line. Choose a lightweight and flexible rod. Try a small hook, size 6 to 12, baited with a piece of worm, maggot, cricket or small grasshopper fished with a tiny bobber and no weight. Make sure your bobber (1/2 to 3/4 inch diameter) is big enough to just float the bait. Cast the bait past the spawning nest and retrieve slowly across the nests until you feel a strike, then set the hook and hang on. Also try tiny jigs or weighted flies.  Fly-cast around weed beds and brush with black flies, spiders and tiny poppers for lots of pan-sized fish.

Largemouth Bass
Spring and early summer are the best times to catch largemouth bass. Use live baits such as worms, frogs, crayfish and minnows or artificial baits. The best artificial lures are those that look like natural bass food such as minnows, frogs, worms and crayfish. Use hooks no smaller than size 1 up to 6/0. You may need to use heavier tackle to keep bass away from snags or through the weeds when setting the hook. Most bass rods are medium to heavy action with 8-to12-pound test line. You can use light or even ultralight tackle in the spring when vegetation is at a minimum.  Look for largemouth bass around tree stumps, brush, points sticking out from shore and weed bed edges.

Channel Catfish
Channel Catfish naturally avoid light and are usually found near the bottom except for in the summer. Don’t fish in water over six feet in the summer. Many ponds “stratify” in the summer, so the deepest water has no oxygen or fish. Use medium weight tackle with 6 to 12 pound test and 1/0 to 4 sized hooks. Try prepared blood or stink baits, chicken entrails, liver, cut shad, crayfish or earthworms. Still fishing in ponds is best, but move to another spot if you don’t have a bite in 10 minutes. Cut shad is best during early spring fishing, while liver, chicken entrails and prepared baits work better during mid-summer. Fish baits on or near the bottom using slip sinkers or no weight and an open bail or free spool reel to provide little resistance when the bait is taken. Set the hook after the catfish runs with the bait.  

Fish Parasites:
Occasionally, anglers catch a fish infested with parasites. A healthy fish can tolerate some parasites with little ill effects. Black spot and yellow grub are the most common parasites found in Iowa pond fish. Fish infested with yellow grub are often called "wormy" or "grubby". This parasite is found in largemouth bass and bluegill. The yellow grub is enclosed in a cyst which often lies just beneath the skin. A bulge is often seen at the base of the fins or tail. The living worm, when squeezed from this bulge, is light yellow and about 1/4 inch long and 1/20 inch wide.

Black spot is small, black grains embedded in the skin and flesh. These black spots are the home to a small fluke. Found on several species of fish, they are very common on bluegill.

Black spot in fish fillets
Black spot in fish fillets
yellow grubs in fish fillets
Yellow grubs in fish fillets

Since humans cannot be infected with these parasites, it is safe to eat fish that have them. The parasites are killed when the fish are thoroughly cooked. It is not practical to try to remove these parasites from a pond. 

A fungus called Saprolegnia can sometimes be found on fish in ponds. This grayish, cotton-like growth is usually a secondary infection caused by an adverse environmental condition such as disease, low oxygen levels or spawning stress. Many times it is seen on the tails, sides or bellies of fish which have rubbed these areas raw while spawning. Fish not too badly affected will recover, but some will die.