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#11695731 - 06/29/16 11:48 AM Monster sunfish?
feagins28 Offline
Outdoorsman

Registered: 03/14/14
Posts: 75
I have always caught sunfish/bluegill/etc... On a number 10 eagle claw hook, but I'm wondering of there are better hook options to use to catch bigger ones because so far I have been catching them in the 4-6 inch range. Also, are there specific tips you guys can give to target the bigger ones. I know body of water, food source, etc has a ton to do with the sizes and so on, but most major lakes should produce bigger panfish right? Any help is appreciated!

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#11695856 - 06/29/16 01:04 PM Re: Monster sunfish? [Re: feagins28]
Smithaven Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 03/23/10
Posts: 1820
Loc: Hurst, Texas
It is not true that most lakes have bigger sunfish. A lot of the lakes will contain only 6 inch bluegills. The secret to catching big sunfish is to find a body of water which contains them.

That said, try fishing deeper. The big ones are often below the dinks. You may have to add weight to get through the small ones without losing your bait.

When you find the bigger fish you may want to go to a #8 or even a #6 hook to keep the fish from swallowing the bait.
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Seventy years of chasing the elusive sunfish.

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#11695964 - 06/29/16 01:46 PM Re: Monster sunfish? [Re: Smithaven]
banker-always fishing Online   content
TFF Guru

Registered: 07/12/10
Posts: 37191
Loc: Universal City Tx.
Originally Posted By: Smithaven
It is not true that most lakes have bigger sunfish. A lot of the lakes will contain only 6 inch bluegills. The secret to catching big sunfish is to find a body of water which contains them.

That said, try fishing deeper. The big ones are often below the dinks. You may have to add weight to get through the small ones without losing your bait.

When you find the bigger fish you may want to go to a #8 or even a #6 hook to keep the fish from swallowing the bait.




Agree with the above! I fish water bodies that have good numbers of nice sunfish. They do tend to stay in deeper water during certain times of the year away from smaller fish. Areas close to drop offs,submerged brush piles,overhanging tree limbs close to deep water,and dock slips in ten to twelve feet of water usually hold some nice fish. Also well managed ponds or ponds that have a good balance of fish will hold some nice fish. Creeks that have deep pockets of water are good also. thumb
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IGFA World Record Rio Grande Cichlid. Lake Dunlap.

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#11696015 - 06/29/16 02:03 PM Re: Monster sunfish? [Re: feagins28]
J-Moe Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 04/04/14
Posts: 2608
Loc: Brenham, TX
There is nothing wrong with using a size 10 hook, especially for bluegill, since they have such a small mouth. I have caught many trophy bluegill on a size 10 fly. All my bluegill / sunfish flies are tied on either a size 8 or 10 hook. In general, the size of the bait does not matter as much as it does with largemouth bass. In fact, matching the hatch of the very small insects they eat can be more productive.

To repeat what Smithaven said, the body of water matters and the bigger fish will build their beds in the deepest part of the spawning colony. They will also hold off the first drop off more often.

Keep exploring.


Edited by J-Moe (06/29/16 02:05 PM)

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#11696210 - 06/29/16 03:48 PM Re: Monster sunfish? [Re: feagins28]
fish 'till I drop Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 09/20/08
Posts: 1985
Loc: Austin, TX
I like a size 6 hook. Medium to large bluegills have no problem with it, and the slightly larger hook bend is a little easier to threats a piece of worm on. I have always wondered why so many people use a smaller hook, like a size 12.

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#11696303 - 06/29/16 04:25 PM Re: Monster sunfish? [Re: feagins28]
Meadowlark Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 11/04/04
Posts: 2871
Loc: East Texas
For big gills on the fly, I prefer size 8 hooks. If using bait, I also would go with something like a number 8....again for large gills.

Fishing pressure, as well as environmental factors such as food and cover, play a big part in this. Not very many big bluegills get released back into public waters...in fact can't ever recall anyone except myself that releases the big ones. In ponds I manage, those big gills over 10 inches are absolutely treasured and released very carefully.

Its impossible to catch what isn't there...and in many public impoundments, > 10 inch 'gills just aren't there in catchable numbers.

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#11696698 - 06/29/16 08:50 PM Re: Monster sunfish? [Re: feagins28]
jagg Offline
TFF Team Angler

Registered: 10/12/08
Posts: 3794
Loc: South Texas
Everything everyone has posted here is on point. To the OP saying that in large bodies of water there are typically more larger sunfish, this is also correct. The deal with that is what MeadowLark referred to; fishing pressure, predatory pressure, food, cover and other factors are gonna make the difference on finding and catching the larger sunfish. On big East Texas lakes like Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend, there is a lot of bank that will be conducive to larger sunfish hanging around and not nearly enough pressure to make them back off the bank. On a Lake like Raven, it is smaller and in early Spring there is quite a lot of pressure on the bank so the smart, more mature sunfish (usually the larger ones) back off the bank till the weed rim develops pretty good.

In smaller lakes, ponds and other smaller waters, it is more difficult to have all those stars line up to make catchable numbers of larger sunfish. More pressure usually on smaller waters. Less diversity in cover, structure and food. Easier to get to likely sunfish holding spots. Easier to alter the lake, pond, etc.. for better or worse.

The biggest factor is what these guys have posted time after time; you cant catch them if they are not there. I ran into that this month. In the small waters I fish I believe that this past full moon was the first bluegill spawn of the season. I walked around the smaller pond (almost 8 acres) and noticed that I could see spawning colonies right up against the bank. On these beds, the largest bluegill I saw was 6" with quite a few smaller than that. I know there are larger bluegill in that pond because I have caught some, but they are few and far between. Larger 'gills normally spawn deeper, but this particular pond is almost carpeted with weed growth except for a couple key spots. Now if one angler with rudimentary sunfish fishing skills and the mind to keep larger 'gills came across these deeper spawning beds, he/she could more than decimate the larger 'gill population. This pond is about 15' deep at its deepest and probably averages 6' deep. The bass fishing is pretty good and the state stocks put and take trout. There are a mix of what folks are fishing for at this pond of bass, bluegill and trout.

In the larger pond (25+ acres) it is creek fed and it is DEEP and CLEAR. 50' rope on my canoe anchor and I didn't touch bottom on its deepest basin. It is an excellent bass, sunfish and trout fishery with trout that holdover during the summer. Also some better than 5lb channel cats. Most of the folks I have talked to out there target the trout. The creek feeds into one of the two fairly shallow spots with reed beds leading into the lone grass bed in moderately shallow water. The other shallow spot is a large gravel flat with sparse crawling weeds. The biggest part of the pond a large deep basin that has a very short shallow rim that dives off into the deep basin except for one point that dives into the creek at 45°. The past two Springs the weather has been a little more predictable and sticking more to the norm so not as cold as late in the year and less precip. We could get back into the creek area and reed beds with my canoe and fish the beds and fish the pre-spawn. There is one way to get to the part of the reed beds from the bank, but it is extremely difficult. Especially compared to other parts of the pond (the one weed bed is expansive; half can be fished from a fairly accessible bank the other takes a heck of a hike down a steep overgrown trail).

My son and I fished both ponds with in the past couple weeks and we caught plenty of fish at the smaller pond, but we caught mostly smaller fish. We chose not to fish the deep beds since there were always others out there fishing and they all had coolers. We fished the larger pond the past few days and found spawning bluegills and redears at the normal spawning location in the creek entrance and reed beds. Most of these fish were in the 7" to 10" range with a handful of redears over 10". Yesterday we fished the riprap on the dam (one of the borders of the deep basin) and found a deep flat with a bluegill spawning colony on it. We caught bluegill on almost every cast on a deep bobber rig (your normal fixed float rig with a Thill fixed float rigged above the size 10 short shank hook and 1/16th oz size split shot). We rigged the bobber 4'-6' above the hook and baited the hook with Gulp! Alive! minnows and fry. Depending on what they were biting. The aggressive bite was on the 4' rig with the minnows, but that died off a little and we started fishing deeper and with the fry. Gulp! Alive! cricket drew one fish and the hellgrammite drew no strikes. There were others fishing out there, but they were all keyed on trout and only saw two boats out there (paddleboards; no fishing gear). But that brings me to my last point.

Big bluegill seem to be more minnow/fish eaters than anything else in my experience. Minnows normally have a chance of having larger bluegills around them. There's a reason male bass stay around to guard the fry. It's because big bluegill have no qualms about testing a male bass and trying to eat those fry. Young of the year bass, crappie, bluegill and other fish are definitely on the menu from summer to late fall for big bluegill.

Hope this helps!
_________________________
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless His Holy Name!

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#11697541 - 06/30/16 10:23 AM Re: Monster sunfish? [Re: feagins28]
Laker One Online   content
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 07/03/11
Posts: 9190
Loc: San Antonio TX
Agree on all the above! Good information Jagg!

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