Spawning season is one of the best times to fish for the members of this group, running
from mid-May in the southern Lower Peninsula to late June and early July in the Upper Peninsula.
At that time, they are found in the shallows, generally along weedy edges. and are easy to catch.
The best hours to catch Sunfish are early morning and in the evening, although they can be caught
any time of the day or night. During the early season, fly fishing with small popping bugs, rubber
spiders or small nymph flies is an excellent method to catch Sunfish. Best colors for popping bugs
are red and white combinations, yellow, yellow and black, black or black and white. Rubber spiders
and nymph flies of black or brown colors generally work best. The fish are spooky at this time,
so light leaders of not more than 6-pound test (4-pound or 2-pound are better) and of at least 7 to 9
feet are advised. In most instances, long casts are needed to catch the larger fish. Ultra-light
spinning tackle with very small lures or a small bobber and worm also is effective.
Cane pole fishermen fishing from shore can succeed using live bait such as worms or crickets.
Because Sunfish have small mouths, a long shank No. 10 or No. 12 hook should be used. A small split
shot. No. 7 or BB size, should be used to weight the bait which should be fished shallow. 6 to 15 inches.
During the hot months later in the season, the Sunfish will be in deeper water, and it may be necessary
to fish as deep as 10 to 15 feet. Live baits for Sunfish include earthworms, grubs, crickets, grasshoppers,
pieces of crayfish and leeches.
Because Sunfish generally nibble cautiously on the bait, the bobber should be small with a minimum of
resistance. Cane poles of 12 to 14 feet, spinning rods in the medium light or ultra-light class, and
No. 5 or No. 6 fly rods are the best.
Chances are that any Sunfish you catch in Michigan will be a Bluegill, with Pumpkinseeds next and
Green Sunfish a distant third. Bluegills are the second most commonly caught species in Michigan.
(after Yellow Perch), and are found in inland waters throughout the state. Bluegills come in a variety
of colors, depending on size, sex and season, but usually have a blue-ish look on the body behind the
head. Perhaps the best way to distinguish them from other Sunfish is that the opercle (gill flap) is
flexible and easily bent forward. Pumpkinseeds have a stiff opercie, and are generally yellow, red
and blue-green in body color. Green Sunfish are pretty much green all over, with yellow-tipped tail and
fins, and have a blockier body shape than the other two species.
All three species can and sometimes do mate together, so any fish that looks like a mixture very likely
is. The hybrids are normally sterile.
Fishing with Leeches Information Resources
Leech Care Tips
Maintenance Information for Fishing Leeches
Live Baitin' with Leeches
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