wk outdoors sunfish 300WESTERN Ky. (4/26/13) – Early May in Kentucky is not only a good time to set out tomato plants in backyard gardens, but it's the start of the best fishing of the year for bluegill and redear sunfish.
 
When water temperatures approach 70 degrees, these two native sunfish species move into the shallows of ponds, small lakes and large reservoirs in preparation for spawning.
 
"If I was to pick a time here it would be the second week in May," said Paul Rister, western district fishery biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, who manages fish populations in Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.
 
Both lakes support excellent populations of the sunfish species. "When they are spawning, generally the redear sunfish will be out from the banks in a little deeper water than the bluegills," said Rister.
 
Anglers should try to time their fishing trips to coincide with rising or stable lake levels. "By the time bluegills and redears go on the bed, both lakes are usually stable at summer pool," said Rister. The ideal fishing area is a shallow embayment that has flooded vegetation on the mudflats, close to gravel shores.
 
Rister said meal worms and crickets are the preferred live baits for redear sunfish, while red worms and crickets are tops for bluegills.
 
The recommended strategy for both species is suspending the bait under a float. "Redears want the bait close to the bottom, with as little weight (split shot) on the line as possible," said Rister.
 
Bluegill strike bait suspended a little shallower than redears, along weed lines. Light wire, long-shank hooks in size # 8 or #10 are recommended for both species.
 
These sunfish spawn in colonies, their saucer-shaped nests clustered together. Spawning can continue into June, if water conditions are ideal.
 
The redear sunfish (Lepomis microlophus) is commonly called the "shellcracker" because it likes to feed on mussels, snails and insects on the bottom. A special plate of teeth in the back of the fish's throat enables them to crush shells. The preferred habitat for redear sunfish is clear water where rooted aquatic vegetation often grows.
 
On Aug. 27, 2004, the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to give the redear sunfish sport fish status, and protected populations from overharvest by creating a statewide 20-fish daily creel limit.
 
Other Kentucky waters that support quality populations of redear sunfish include Beaver Lake in Anderson County, Elmer Davis Lake in Owen County, McNeeley Lake in Jefferson County and Pan Bowl Lake in Breathitt County.
 
The bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) is arguably the most popular panfish in Kentucky. An abundant species that's present in all the state's river drainages, bluegill are easy to catch and their white flesh is sweet and firm. Bluegill thrive in ponds and small lakes across Kentucky.
 
Statewide, there's no daily creel limit on bluegills, but Fishing in Neighborhoods (FINs) lakes have restrictions on the number of bluegills and redears that can be kept.
 
Redear sunfish and bluegill are willing strikers all day long, perfect for introducing a child or adult novice to fishing.
 
The license year expired Feb. 28, 2013. You'll need to buy a new fishing license, available in the sporting goods section of department stores and tackle shops, to fish now. Licenses and permits may also be purchased online from the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife homepage at fw.ky.gov or by calling 1-877-598-2401. The entire Spring Fishing Frenzy series will be posted at this same website for future access to these articles.
 
Art Lander Jr. has been writing about the outdoors since the 1970s. He is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine.

WK Outdoors
Information provided by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife
Photo provided by Seth Stewart
Visit the WK Outdoors website at www.wkoutdoors.com

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

In Other News...

Alma Randolph Charitable Foundation to Host Ladies Luncheon, Fashion Show May 16

OWENSBORO, Ky. (4/18/15) — The Alma Randolph Charitable Foundation is excited to announce the Ladies Luncheon and… Read More

Daviess County Bicentennial 5K Run/Walk at Mount Saint Joseph May 30

DAVIESS COUNTY, Ky. (4/18/15) — The Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph will host their second "Get Moving at the… Read More

Most Read This Week

April 13, 2015 6212

Three Juveniles, Adult Accused of Vandalizing…

by Deputy Will Coursey
April 17, 2015 5778

An Open Letter from an Addict

by Olivia Kirks
April 14, 2015 5030

Several Juveniles Charged in Connection with Fight

by SurfKY News
April 18, 2015 4189

Man Charged with Attempting to Coerce Minor for…

by Madisonville Police Department
April 16, 2015 3398

Crime Stoppers Fugitive of the Week – April 16,…

by Hopkinsville – Christian County Crime Stoppers

Most Read This Month

April 02, 2015 8473

UPDATE: Madisonville Man Injured in Head-on…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
March 27, 2015 6694

Three Arrested during Execution of Search…

by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center

Stories Trending Now

April 17, 2015 5778

An Open Letter from an Addict

by Olivia Kirks
April 18, 2015 4189

Man Charged with Attempting to Coerce Minor for…

by Madisonville Police Department
April 18, 2015 983

MPD Offers Advice On Prom, Underage Drinking

by Lt. Billy Poe
April 18, 2015 749

Market Commentary - April 18, 2015

by Randall L. Franklin
April 18, 2015 464

Home, Garden Show Concludes Today at Ballard…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
April 18, 2015 450

Happenings and Meetings - Hopkins County

by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
April 18, 2015 430

Keeping the Faith - 'God Smiles'

by Ronnie McBrayer
April 18, 2015 414

TVA's Regional Energy Resource Council to Meet in…

by Tennessee Valley Authority
April 18, 2015 400

Hooked on Science - Skewer a Balloon

by Jason Lindsey
April 18, 2015 373

WKCTC Offers Minecraft Class to Teach Students…

by Tammy Thompson