How To Catch Sunfish
Bluegill, red ear, pumpkinseed… these are all sunfish with very similar characteristics. They are small, but aggressive. This makes them easy to catch and lots of fun. Use a small bobber, with bread, cheese, or bits of worm as bait. Fish for them near docks, sunken branches, and boulders. They always like to be near some sort of cover to hide from predators. Click the button below for an article all about catching sunfish.
Once you find a school of sunfish, fishing can be great. And they usually aren’t too hard to find either. Sure some waters have sunfish and some just don’t, but with a little research you should be able to find a good place to start.
For being so small, sunfish can really put up a good fight. Many people argue that they have the strongest fight for their size. This may or may not be true, but I can’t rank them up there with the fight of a rainbow trout or steelhead. So I give them a 5 out of 10.
Bluegill are one of the top favorites of fish that sport anglers eat. They have a firm meat with a great flavor. The only downside is that there is so little meat on a bluegill. You’ll need a few fish to make a meal for one person. But they make great little fried fish nuggets.
The world record bluegill was caught in Alabama in the 1950s and weighed 4 pounds and 12 oz. However, most state records are in the 2 to 3 lb. range. Most bluegill and other sunfish will be less than half a lb. So don’t expect much.
It is very rare to catch a bluegill bigger than 12 inches. Some ponds that are over populated with sunfish will only have fish up to around 4 inches. When there isn’t enough food to go around, their growth will be stunted.
Some bluegill have been found to live up to around 10 years, but most will live to somewhere around 5 to 8 years. They need a good safe environment with plenty of food.
Bluegill are the most common sunfish and can be found throughout North America. Other sunfish can be found in various pockets throughout the States, with higher concentrations in the south. Bluegill have been stocked in other countries and continents as well. They make a good food source for bass and other predators, so get stocked in private ponds often.
sunfish are known as a warm water fish, but they are also extremely abundant in cold waters that ice over. They are tough fish that can survive almost anywhere. They like to be near lots of cover in which they can hide from predators. Cover can be made up of sunken logs, bushes, aquatic plants, and rocks. They also prefer a fine gravel bottom in shallow water for nesting.
Sunfish feed on bugs, worms, and basically whatever they can fit in their mouths. They like to taste test everything that looks like it could possibly be food. Since they live in schools, they have to be quick to react whenever a potential food source comes into view. The fish that reacts first, gets the meal. This is why they can be so easy to catch.
Fishing Tackle For Sunfish
Choosing the right hook is one of the most important factors for success. Sunfish have small mouths so you need a small hook. A size 12 to 14 J-hook works good but make sure it’s very sharp. Click the link for more info on hooks and other bluegill tackle.
Sunfish are small so using 4 pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon will be more than strong enough. Fluoro is less visible to the fish but costs more. Sunfish aren’t too picky so just use whatever you have. Click the link above for more info on fishing line for sunfish.
Sunfish rigs should be simple. In fact all you need to do is clip a bobber onto your line with a hook. If you want, you can add a small splitshot a few inches above the hook. If you need to fish deeper than 5 feet, then you can use a slip bobber rig.
There are many different baits you can use to catch bluegill. The most popular is worms. Use either a very small worm, or cut a piece off that will just cover the hook. However, my favorite bait is bread. Bread works especially well when the fish have wised up to worms. Click the link above to learn how I fish with bread.
Fishing with small lures can be a fun way to fish for bluegill. My favorite lures for sunfish are Rooster Tails. Make sure you get the smaller sizes. You can also use very small crankbaits, and lures that mimic bugs.
Rod and Reel
Since sunfish are so small, it’s best to use an ultralight rod and reel which will allow you to cast small lures and bobbers. An ultralight rod will also make the fight more enjoyable.
This is where most bluegill anglers mess up. The bobber is such an important decision. If your bobber is too big, then you will have a lot of fish stealing your worms, and you won’t hook very many. Use the smallest bobber you can get away with. I like foam cigar bobbers.
Jigs are a great alternative to bait fishing for sunfish. The great thing about jigs is that you don’t have to mess with worms or constantly re-bait a hook. Trout Magnets are my favorite jigs for sunfish. they are cheap and come with decent hooks.
Bluegill will in no way try to attack a human. However, they do have a defense mechanism which is to flair out their dorsal fin which is full of sharp spines. Just fold back the spines if you need to hold them and you’ll be fine.
Bluegill are just one member of the sunfish family. Sunfish are called such because they can often be found near the surface of the water soaking in the suns warmth. I wrote an article all about different sunfish if you are interested in learning more.