Barbs and Backlashes


Panfish Time! by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
May 28, 2009, 5:23 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

My family and I spent the Memorial Day weekend “out west”.  We helped the in-laws butcher 102 chickens one day and spent as much time as possible with family, but of course we spent as much time fishing as we could!  One of my dilemmas when we are back to North Platte is that there are so many options–so much water, so many fish and so little time.  We fished a variety of waters for a variety of species, and then zeroed-in on some prime panfishing!

We found the bluegills just starting to bed on some interstate lakes.  Now, I will tell you that fishing for any species in the middle of the spawn can be difficult because when they are spawning they are not interested in feeding, they have other things on their mind.  Bluegills spawn in colonies and are easily spotted and fished for at that time, but even bluegills can get tough to catch during the height of spawning activity because all the males care about at that time is defending their nest and herding females onto their nest to deposit eggs.  The females and males both can be so wrapped up in spawning behavior that they do not even see a bait in front of their nose!

But these fish were just starting to spawn and still very interested in feeding.  The females were so full of eggs they looked like they were going to burst.  So, we caught a bunch of 9-inch+ bluegills.  We also caught a bunch of “bonus” fish.

Take a close look at the pictures at the end of this post.  No, those are not bluegills; they are redear sunfish.  Redears are not native to Nebraska.  They are a warm-water fish whose native range is south and east of Nebraska.  But redears have been introduced in some Nebraska waters and have been successful in some of those waters.  Redears prefer to eat snails and are commonly called “shellcrackers”.  The waters where redears thrive tend to be relatively clear with at least some aquatic vegetation which will support an abundance of snails.  In addition I believe redears in Nebraska need some type of thermal “refuge” where they can ride out the long, cold Nebraska winters.  For example, I believe Nebraska pits with their groundwater flow provides just enough water that is a little bit warmer in the winter.  Or in a water body with a perennial inflowing stream there may also be some water that is just a little bit warmer and that will get the redears through the winter.

Anyway, we caught and released a bunch of nice redears in addition to the bluegills we caught and released.  That brings up another point.  Yes, we released all of those panfish.  I have nothing against harvesting some bluegills for a meal of fresh fried fish.  In fact a bunch of bluegills like that are like potato chips–you can’t eat just one!  Panfish are species that are abundant and can withstand some harvest.  However, if a person wants big panfish to catch I believe it is important to practice selective harvest.  When bluegills are spawning they group together in colonies and the males that build and defend the beds are the biggest males in the population.  They spawn in shallow water, can be very easy to spot and especially in small waters it can be very easy to “cherry-pick” all of the biggest bluegills from a population during the spawn.  Keep a few of the 8-inch males or some females for a meal of fresh fish, turn those 9-inch+ fish loose!

Fishing for bluegills usually is not hard.  A fly rod and a variety of wet flies or nymphs can be particularly effective during the spawn period.  If you prefer spinning or spincasting equipment, keep the lines light, use some 1/32 oz. or smaller jigs and tip them with small pieces of nightcrawlers or worms.  I will usually use a small float to suspend the jigs.

GO FISH!

Nephew with an 10-inch+ redear sunfish

Nephew with an 10-inch+ redear sunfish

Son with an 11-inch redear

Son with an 11-inch redear

Dad with an 9-inch+ redear

Dad with an 9-inch+ redear

I managed a 10-inch+ redear myself!

I managed a 10-inch+ redear myself!

Fat little piggies, weren't they?

Fat little piggies, weren't they?

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5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hello Daryl…is there any chance that your crew could electro-shock my lakes whenever they are out this way. I’m noot sure what is is going on. Fishing has gone from terrific a couple years ago to very slow now.
Thanks…Jerry

Comment by Jerry Lauby

Jerry,

Good to hear from you. I will not make any promises because our guys are busy, but Jeff Blaser is our private waters specialist and he may be able to come out and take a look at your pits or line someone up who can. Contact Jeff and see what he can do, jeff.blaser@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5435.

Daryl B.

Comment by Daryl Bauer

[…] them. Not hybrids, not redears. If you want to see some redears, you might want to check this out, http://barbsandbacklashes.wordpress….-time/#more-94 . Daryl Bauer Fisheries Outreach Program Manager Nebraska Game & Parks Commission […]

Pingback by Question Redear ID - Nebraska Fish and Game Association

wow nice bluegill you cught there. that was a huge fish. i love fishing for bluegill becasue they are so good to eat. nice blog. keep it up

Comment by pierce

Those were redear sunfish! We caught some bluegills at the same time, but the redears were bigger!

Daryl B.

Comment by Daryl Bauer




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