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The lake that I fish hold multiple species of sunfish, do you guys use differnet techniques when targeting different species?

I've tried to single out a single species by using different baits,depths and areas (such as rocks and grass) but I always catch a mix, I've also tried fishing higher or lower in the water column, but still always catch a mix of fish

Please feel free to share some ideas

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Great subject! I got to record anything the masters have to offer on this topic. Jeff Soto, LedHead, Big Jim, and Anthony Palafox (along with a few other I have yet to fully realize here at BBG) fished at Lake Perris may back me up on this..keep in mind that the lake's depth range between 28ft average during the summer in the deeper habitats and 7ft shallow spawning ground that I've observed..deepest fish-able areas is 62ft during summer):

Big sunfish, regardless of variety, I noticed that during the summer and fall, they were between the depth of 5 to 15ft. Rarely do I see them coming up to the surface unless they spotted something large and juicy for the strike during heavy overcast, or just before the sun light hits the surface, especially near or directly above the spawning ground. Once the sun light fully glare on the surface, no amount of presentation will tempt them for the strike in shallow areas or surface. I recorded both surface and below surface captures, and the larger variety (7 inches and larger) will take on any big presented below 5ft (and at times as they bait slowly sink at 3ft depths towards the 5ft marker). However, smaller variety (6 inches and smaller) will hit the presentation at all depths. I caught so many 4 inchers at the surface in broad daylight during summer and mid fall that it wasn't funny. Those small fries had larger stomach than their mouths. They hit a purple-silver Rapala X Shad floater about their size. Or better yet, they hit a smallest Yo-Zuri Snap Bean Tennessee Shad that's about 4 times the size of their mouths, thinking they can swallow it whole. Jeeze.

So, if you're aiming for big guys, present large offerings. If you aim for smaller ones, any size will do. Hunt large ones in the lower depths, unless the lake is shallow (20ft max), then they'll linger just slightly below surface. Smaller ones, they're all over the place.

I can't give you info on the winter months, since I'm still learning about their habits after all these years..as the masters here would put it, smaller is good. Smallest is best.

Great info leo,  like you said the small one will hit anything at any depth, the 2 lake I mostly fish, are very different one is shallow 30ft on the deepest areas and the other is deeper 50-60ft

The first lake is a river lake that is fed by the guadalupe, wich is a spring fed river and the temperatures vary a lot less than the other lake,right now is holding at 64-68 depends on wich end of the lake you are fishing. I found that the biggest concentrations of large redbreast and redears are in the rocky bottoms in depths between 9-15ft specially on dropoffs. and the big buegill will be somewhat in shallower areas in 5-10ft

As far as other fish like warmouth and green fish I've always ounfd them in the thickest cover I can find in shallow water (tree lines etc)

Longears are very common here and they are usually in creeks with running water they are suckers for current

Unlike you I haven't been able to catch any big fish in waters deeper than 25ft I have tried drop offs and submerged brush but I always end up catching very small fish

I have no experience with the spawn as I just started fishing for sunfish this summer but I have seen some shallow flats that I think would be good in the spring

The second lake is a man made lake that the temperature fluctuates a lot more The prominent species is the bluegill and the go all the way up to 10" I have't caught anything bigger yet but I'm sure there are some. during summer and all the way up to late fall the fish I caught where in depths between 9-19 ft anything shallower and all you would get would be 5-6" fish I havent fshed it in the winter but the water temp is at 52-54 right now

I have seen really nice flats close to deep water for the spawning season but i guess it won't be good till april

I'm going to try to fish this week maybe start deep and go shallow

We have noticed a massive trend to cool water slow bites, as well as the atmospheric influence to lockjaw (not able to feed). Our water is roughly in your range as well. The bites around here, and everywhere else, is getting tough. Real tough. Larger variety will eat and push for the feed during slow time..but extremely picky, and sluggish. They just want tiny offering, and must be very very still. During cold days, they will go deep as they can to keep their temperature constant. The deeper they are, the less temperature regulation they have to worry about. The water is warmer at the bottom comparing to the thermoclines at the middle and upper water columns.

I normally target sunfish during the late spring period, when they're actively feeding for the spawning. In the meanwhile waiting for their activities, I search for trouts, and striped bass when I can. But, learning from the local masters, they get slightly active late winter, and very active during spring. So, I'll be targeting them as well. You might considering switching the game plan to another species while giving them the down time during the cold season? You could wet one line for the sunfish, while search for trouts, cats, or even carp. They seem to be active during cold season. During your fishing period, pay extreme attention to possible spawning beds. That will be your meal ticket for later. Look for circles in the shallow areas, or when the water is clear enough to see down beyond 5ft, watch for those pre-existing beds and new circular beds. They should be about the size of a circle that you make with your arms.

I think catching a mix of species just goes with the territory somewhat. Many of the different sunfish species overlap one another in crucial areas such as structure preference, prey items, and temperature tolerance.  Differences, where they exist between different species, can be exploited to target specific fish, If an angler is able to identify them.

As anglers, we probably do this already and don't give it much thought. A couple of obvious examples come to mind, one being the use of minnows as bait when targeting crappies. Certainly other sunfishes will prey on minnows, but we all know that crappies seem to prefer them.

The other involves redear sunfish, and their renowned affinity to hug the bottom. Fishing near, or actually on the bottom will increase your odds of hooking up with this fish, but will not preclude the taking of another species.

Yes tony, I have caught most of my big Redear  fishing with a drop shot or a downsized carolina rig close to the bottom, and mostly on gravel/rocky areas or big dropoffs, while doing this I have also caught a good number of redbreast but very few bluegill.

Another by product of this method is the rio grande cichlid wich is one of the hardes fighting fish on the lake, and they do get very big I have caught them up to 11.5" close to the 2# mark

I have found that bluegill relate more to grass beds and or submerge trees or bushes and I have caught them both on drop shot and slip bobbers

I have yet to figure out how to find the big bluegill on the first lake, biggest i have caught is 9" and a couple of 10"+ hybrids. any suggestions?

Good post, I have wondered the same thing. And good answers, thank you guys.

Ive caught a majority of Redear/shellcrackers on redworms and mealworms. And a majority of my bluegills where on crickets. Thats not to say that I didn't get any mixed in there but Id say like 80% where of the target group. Redears also breed earlier in the year so naturally I target them first, then bluegills start to spawn and I target them. In the summer I just get a mixed bag of both because they are both very active. Idk they just seem partial to certain baits to me but they diffidently wont pass up a meal either.     

I see it as bottom feeding versus column feeding. Shellcrackers, stumpknockers - these fish are more common near to the bottom.

But there does seem to be a universal connection to depth. Almost all the time the small piddlers are in the depths above 4 feet. 10-20 feet of water seems to be the magic zone for bigger fish. And right on the bottom with a slider rig is the place to catch Shellcrackers and their bottom  dwelling kin. But, there is no surprise that you may catch a mix of fish. They are opportunistic and will follow the food.

However, I tend to see the selection for different species in terms of the two micro-environments mentioned, bottom and column environments. For example, shellcrackers here in SC are almost always targeted on the bottom with fishfinder rigs. Meanwhile, not 20 yards away, I'm catching spotties beneath a slip float.

Fish both and see what happens.

Thanks guys for all the relies I'll keep in mind that redears spawn earlier. What is the water temp that triggers the spawning?

I agree with the water depth. anything shallow usually the smaller fish will get to your bait, I love to fish 10-20 foot depths except when I;m targeting rio grande cichlid  the I would go shallow and really tight to cover. I have a brush pile that is still producing trophy fish right now in the middle of winter

David, when you say slider rig, is that a lindsey rig with a slider weight right after the swivel?

Anthony, you are right when I use cricket I hardly get any redears, my biggest redear 13 3/4" came on a super mealworm

Yes Federico, I mean just that. I also use a bead above the weight.

The bait is important, too. Worms are the universal bait, and seem to be good for both bottom and column feeding sunfish, or so it seems. A few others are small shrimp for the bottom feeders and crickets or grubs/maggots for the column feeders.

 I fish farm ponds in NW Illinois.  My experience is that the crappie will be deeper, but I still will catch blue gill even when I count it down to 6 feet.  Also redear sunfish are supposed to be bottom dwellers cracking snails down deep, but I catch them shallow under cover.  So I think  you will always catch an assortment of species. 

I fineese fish using jigs and plastics.  I have the best luck on curly tail grubs, charlie brewer vibra tail grubs, and small 1 inch swim baits. I usally put on a crappie nibble or a gulp alive waxie on the hook for scent.

 I fish out of a float tube, and I recently bought a cheap hand held fish finder which I want to try out  asap.  I also bought a new esp 6 foot power lite rod. I really want to see how sensitvie this rod is.  I cant wait to go fishing

Bluegill are food for lots of other fish. Almost always bass near, when fishing for gills

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