Flyfishing and bluegills: They’ll bring
out the kid in you. And Kansas has its share of big sunfish in waters ranging from streams
to ponds to lakes across the state. Bluegills and their cousins, redears, green sunfish,
and sunfish hybrids, spawn in spring when water temperatures reach about 75 degrees.
And if conditions are right, they’ll spawn intermittently through summer, providing fast
fishing action and tasty eating. Spawning sunfish are easy to find in shallow
water, and male fish aggressively guard the hatching fry in 12-inch nests cleared of vegetation.
In clear water, these are easy to see. Pull a fly near a nest, and the fish will grab
it and haul it away. That often results in a caught fish. Sunfish will take on all comers
– marauding bass, and even an underwater camera placed close to its nursery. Since
sunfish are among nature’s most prolific parents, catching spawning fish can actually
be good to prevent overpopulation and stunting. Scott Waters, KDWP Fisheries Biologist, and
his friend Cleo Hahn, enjoy catching big sunfish in northcentral Kansas from float tubes. Using
lightweight flyrods and small, size 10 flies like McGintys, wooley buggers, and beadhead
nymphs, they search for feeding or spawning fish in weedbeds and rocky areas under shade.
Last week, they hit Jewell State Fishing Lake near Mankato in Jewell County several times,
catching numbers of sunfish up to nine inches long – bigger than average for Kansas Public
Lands waters. And the fishing was pure fun. There was plenty
of room on this 57-acre lake, and they weren’t the only ones trying this summer pattern.
Several other fly-anglers with tubes were also getting in on the action. Like many Kansas
public waters, there’s no limit on sunfish at Jewell, and bluegills and redears are among
the tastiest gamefish. But on this particular evening, all were catch-and-release fishing,
turning them back for other anglers to catch again.
If you want a unique and relaxing new fishing experience, try float-tubing for Kansas sunfish.
Ultralight spinning gear using jigs or small spinners, or flyrods using wet flies are great
ways to catch these hardy fighters. Sunfish are waiting in Kansas water near you. Fish
Kansas! I’m Mike Blair for Kansas Wildlife and Parks.