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4 Simple but Effective Tips on How to Catch Sunfish
Question of the day; when you started out freshwater fishing, what was the first species of fish you caught? Odds are it was a freshwater sunfish. There are a lot of different sunfish species like bluegill, pumpkinseed, redear, and johnny roach among others. But it seems that because sunfish are easy to catch they don't get the respect they deserve. A 10-pound plus largemouth bass is revered while a freshwater sunfish is tossed in a bucket for a fish fry. Think about it; how many sunfish have you seen mounted and hung on a wall?
Over the years I've introduced several new anglers to fishing by first teaching them how to catch sunfish. How can you beat the best bait for sunfish which is the bobber and worm? That combination doesn't just catch sunfish, but it develops freshwater fishing skills that can be used with other techniques. Beginners learn to cast, set the hook, fight and land a fish. But I like to go fishing for sunfish on my own, and they're fun to catch with other tackle, especially on a light fly rod. Here are a few sunfish fishing tips that will make it even more fun.
1. Small hooks
The first step in how to catch sunfish is to remember they have small mouths, so if you're using a large hook you'll miss a lot. Sunfish become bait stealers and they'll follow and pick but you put many in the net. Hook sizes in 12-16 increase hook ups.
2. Worms in the spring, flies in the summer
Sunfish species move into the shallows to spawn in the spring, and you'll see their redds along shore. I don't fish for them when they're on a nest, but it's game on during pre-and-post-spawn. Worms and bobbers work great in the early season, but fly fishing with wet flies and small streamers like Wooly Worms or Wooly Buggers are a hoot.
3. Go light
Sunfish can put a bend in a light 2 or 3-weight fly rod. Of course, they're not like a bluefin tuna on standup gear. That said, they're fun to catch on light tackle.
4. Make it fun by stalking or sightfishing
Look for sunfish cruising in the shallows or along the edges of a pond. Pitch a small ant, inchworm, or beetle under a tree limb. Live bait or a fly are fun. That kind of visual fishing is fun with any kind of fish, but it changes the way we think of the common sunfish.
The age-old question of how to catch sunfish is simple; any way you want, any way you can. But go catch them. They're a whole lot of fun for anglers of all abilities. Check for places to go fishing for sunfish near you with our interactive map.
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