Game Fishing > Bottom Freshwater Fish types > Sunfish


SunfishThe little sunfish is one of hardiest and prettiest species of the fresh-water fish. North and South, wherever clear water is to be found, this little favorite is ready at all times to gratify the eager young angler. In the South it is known as the bream or brim; in other localities as the sunfish, pond fish, tobacco box or pumpkin seed, which it is supposed to resemble.

The sunfish grows to a length of eight inches and a weight of half a pound. In coloration it rivals the colourly tinted fishes of the coral reefs in tropical seas. It is well armed with a fierce array of spines, and shows a temper especially after nest building, unusual in small-sized fishes; consequently they thrive and multiply almost beyond belief in ponds and streams too small for bass, and too warm for trout.

It prefers clear and still water, living in and about weeds and grasses. Sunfish are gamy and eager biters, and earthworms are their delight; they will rise readily to a very small artificial fly, with a vim and dash much in the manner of the black bass, their bold and larger cousins. Like the perch, any old tackle will catch them at times, but if proper angling oufit is used, larger fish, and more gamy fish are caught.

A regular eight-foot bamboo rod should be used, not too pliable or too stiff; such a rod covers the wants of all fresh-water bottom-living fish, but the "sunny" needs finer tackle than the perch.

The size of hooks should be from 8 to 10, and the float should be small, for the fish takes the bait with such a snap, running away at a clipping pace, keeping the float on the move all the time. Adjust the float so that the bait hangs a foot from the bottom. Place two or three No. 8 split shots about six inches apart from the Bait snell, to sink the bait. Have the worms small and of a pinkish color, putting only one worm on the hook, and be very careful to loop it over the shank, leaving a small end to wiggle in the water.

In fishing for sunnies, there is little advantage in moving from place to place if the fish stop biting, throw a few worms in the water to attract them to the bait, as sunfish shoal together in large numbers; throw the bait in gently without much splash.

The outfit for fly fishing is similar to that of brook trout, but two flies are sufficient on a three­foot leader; use the smallest of flies. They should be cast on the surface of the water, as the fish dart up from below to seize them. The best flies are black gnat, gray or brown palmer, and the coachman, but any flies will do, if they are of the smallest possible size. As the sunfish has a particularly hard and bony mouth, it may not be hooked firm, often being held by a thin skin; so that it will be safer if a small hand net be provided.

In fishing a stream, cast the fly down a runway, and let it go into quiet water, for sunfish choose to lie in still places; wherever the force of the water takes the fly it will turn off and circle around the sunny's hiding place. In such runways, a worm is just as effective, indeed more so, because nature is imitated exactly.

Another good fishing ground is near the shores of large lakes; throw the line in between the weeds in open places the float will keep the line from getting entangled. The best time for fishing is from sunset to dark. A nice string of a dozen sunfish, weighing a half pound each, makes a very agreeable and palatable dish, if fried in hot fat, sharp and crisp. They are better eating than perch, but not so sweet or flaky as the bass.