Do you love big bluegill?
Early in the open water season Earl and I hit a favorite narrow, shallow cove on a nearby reservoir. The spot attracts the local fishes in close to the warmer waters with the big ones leading the way. We are on the water early ice out to low 70’s when the spawn hits. Our targets are jumbo master angler Lepomis with B.Gills on the top of the list.
The cut is very shallow and narrow resembling a canal in characteristics. It is dirty water fishing mainly where long casting a jig is nearly futile. Slip floating/pink waxies or nite crawler bits usually becomes the main method of choice.
Upon arrival to the spot on this beautiful mid-may afternoon we are happy to find fish settled in cruising the shorelines with no visible spawning sites as of yet. With water temps in the low 70’s the fish are on the move and active, Earl, Connor and I are tagging fish right and left with the slip/float/waxie or nite crawler bit method when earl lands a trophy Green Sunfish reaching the 9” mark a first and PB for Earl. We take some record photos for Master Angler registry and quickly release the healthy fish. Just a week previous I tagged a trophy 9” Greenie but on a private lake rendering unregister able for a certificate but a trophy none the less.
I grew a bit jealous of earl’s conquest but become refocused on the flurry of fish activity with many fish crossing the gunwales. Approximately 40 mins later I set the hook into a solid fish and after a good battle I haul a lunker green sunfish into the boat. I put the fish up against the trophy board and it measures near 9.25”… wow Earl and I are stunned. A trophy G.Sunfish is rare in this county yet two in the same day from the same boat! The fish is quickly released into the gene pool and we resume fishing with renewed vigor.
Connor comes close to a master angler P.Seed measuring upper 8’s… he was having a blast!
Within an hour of my trophy Greenie Earl tags and records a Master Angler P.Seed of just over the 9” mark… wow! His second double master angler trip of the year! Three trophies for the boat in one day.
I get a call from my wife informing us dinner was just about ready so we head back in.
After dinner Earl and I download the pictures onto the pc and start filling the paperwork out for the Master Angler fishes. I do a ten year search on the Master Angler Database for Gladwin county and discover 0 Green sunfishes have been registered in the past 10 years… we are the first.
Looking over the pictures of the two fish I make a second discovery… they are the same fish! What are the odds!! Reminiscing on the fishes position when caught revealed the fish was tagged on opposite shorelines… definitely the fish was on the move, active and feeding heavily. Wow what an amazing feat.
A couple days later I headed back out to the cut still reeling from the excitement from the previous trip. Once in position I noticed considerably less activity with less fish spotted cruising the shorelines. The activity at the end of the hook was dramatically down from just a couple days ago… what changed? The bite slowly started coming in with some quality fish. The quality was worth the wait… every fish hooked was lunker proportions over the 90% Master Angler Rating. It kept me on the spot and I felt I was in the game.
Then it happened… I set the hook into a nice fish and was pleasantly surprised to see another Lunker Green Sunfish! After some closer inspection of the gill plate I confirmed it was once again the same fish. Wow!! The same trophy fish caught three times in three days… what better argument for the benefits of catch and release!
…thanks Eric! 2017 was the best year for me... if i could afford to have a couple of my trophies for the year mounted this one would make the top of the list.
Excellent writeup of a fantastic Day fishing. Green SF have always been incidental for me and brother Greg. Learning to target them would be a difficult, or at least time consuming, study I should think. Would like to hear more about the characteristics of the Green Sunfish. I know them to be Aggressive and willing to hit big Lures with their Big Mouths when I encounter them. I have only caught about 4 in my Life and Greg 2 that I know of.
NJ classifies Green Sunfish as invasive, but I've never seen enough to consider them "TOO" prolific and hurting the fish balance. It's something I'd like to talk with about to a New Jersey Fish Biologist or Fish and Game representative about though!