Posted on 2/2/14

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 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 your social media marketing partner

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.

3/13 - 16
3/13 - 16

Most Read This Week

October 10, 2015 6856

25-Mile Car Chase on Pennyrile Ends in Two Arrests

by SurfKY News
October 07, 2015 5183

Alleged Attempt to Hide Meth in Doughnuts Results…

by SurfKY News
October 12, 2015 3644

Crime Stoppers Top Most Wanted - October 12, 2015

by SurfKY News
October 07, 2015 3579

3 From Greenville Indicted On Drug Charges

by SurfKY News
October 07, 2015 3476

Vehicle Overturns during Two-Car Collision

by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director

Most Read This Month

September 16, 2015 14043

Mining Accident Fatality - Update

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
September 30, 2015 12135

Dawson Woman Dead After Princeton Factory…

by SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

October 12, 2015 3644

Crime Stoppers Top Most Wanted - October 12, 2015

by SurfKY News
October 13, 2015 2544

Man Accused of Pretending to Hold Gun on Police

by SurfKY News
October 12, 2015 2441

Two-Vehicle Collision Results in One Driver…

by SurfKY News
October 12, 2015 2314

Four Injured after Vehicle Careens down…

by SurfKY News
October 12, 2015 2295

MPD Foot Patrol Charges Man with Trafficking in…

by SurfKY News
October 12, 2015 1767

Kentucky Health Co-op Closing Due to Congress…

by SurfKY News
October 12, 2015 1667

Driver Dies after Single-Vehicle Collision on…

by SurfKY News
October 13, 2015 1566

BBQ Champs Chosen during Hanson Lions Blast-off

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
October 12, 2015 1553

UPDATE: KSP Captures Escapee

by SurfKY News
October 12, 2015 1320

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports Released -…

by SurfKY News