I have compiled all the research from the last three years of pursuing the redear sunfish. I’ve considered everyone’s input and have experimented a lot. Last Friday, I put the cherry on the banana split. I have gone from catching redear by accident or when they are aggressive spawners to specifically targeting Redear sunfish year round. Misconceptions have stood in my way. One is that redear are bottom feeders; everyone knows this. About five weeks ago, I examined a big wad of weeds gathered on Steve Jett’s hook. It didn’t register then, but I kept thinking about it and could not wait to employ my hypotheses.
The long strand of weeds had tiny zebra mussels attached from one end to the other. I have been fishing under my target if the food is not on the bottom. The late Leroy Smith told me redear liked to inspect bait and could often suck the worm off a hook without the angler knowing it. Their non-aggressive nature away from the spawn threw me. I would use live worms or half a nightcrawler on my next outing.
Zebra Mussels and Redear Sunfish
That trip was last Friday with my friend Gene Best. The zebra mussels filter the water, making it very clear. I used a weighted bobber to make long casts and fished about four feet deep. Best used a slip bobber rig trying different depths, but none more than five feet.
The bobber would barely twitch before the redear would finally take it. If we let them fool with it too long, the bait was swallowed. I mashed the barb on my #2 wire hook to remove it without killing the fish. Some have told me these shellcrackers prefer gold hooks. Mine were gold.
I have been using small crappie grubs tipped with wax worms. I put two of these bee moth larva on my hook. The redear wanted them not. A YouTube video featured some Florida folks catching big redear on Beetle Spins. I tried a 1/16th ounce and caught redear, largemouth bass, yellow bass, and perch. Gene began throwing a perch colored Rooster Tail and caught three of our largest fish. I’m thinking the flash of a spinner gets their attention. These artificials worked better than the live bait at midday.
Several airboats spray the shoreline every Thursday to keep residential and public docks and piers free of weeds. We found a west bank where the wind had carried the herbicide and killed weeds to 20 feet offshore. This created a new weed line at a depth of six feet. We caught a lot of fish on this edge.
I’m impatient and do not like to watch a bobber. I gave those redear about three minutes and moved my bait. It was difficult to do a slow retrieve or move our bait very far because of the weeds. For the first time, I feel locked in on how to catch these mysterious fish. And also, for the first time, my buddy and I caught a double limit of 50 redear.