Fishing for sunfish on the lakes can give you an awesome experience. For the impatient fishermen, it offers you a happy medium so that you don’t have to wait forever to get the bites. Let’s have a look at some sunfish fishing tips that can help you to crank more into the boat.
Tip #1: Choose Lighter Tackle and Baits
Many times when I go fishing for sunfish, I find that you only need part of a nightcrawler to catch them. Sunfish have a smaller mouth, and even when they reach adulthood, they won’t go after the big baits. Along with using lighter tackle and baits, you also want a smaller hook. For hook sizes, you will want it between the numbers of six and 12.
The baits you can use to catch sunfish include:
- Grub worms
- Red wigglers
Tip #2: Live Bait Works Best
In general, sunfish will go after live baits with greater fervor than dead baits or an artificial worm. In fact, while I’ve heard of people catching sunfish on fake worms, I’ve never personally done it, and I wouldn’t recommend this choice for a beginner because of how it seems harder than what it needs to be.
With live bait, you can catch the sunfish much faster. Look for the liveliest bait because of how the livelier bait tends to give you the best results.
Tip #3: The Excitement of the Bobber
Few things feel as exciting as sitting on the lake for a while only to suddenly see a fish playing with your hook. When the bobber goes under, it shows you that you have a fish on your line. You set the hook by jerking back on your line and cranking in the fish. Important to note, you don’t want to jerk too hard.
The advantage of a bobber is that it sets your line in one place. Most sunfish won’t aggressively chase bait, which means that you have to set it and wait.
Tip #4: Set It over the Side of the Boat
To catch more sunfish, you don’t necessarily need to have a bobber. In fact, you can drop your line over the side of the boat and wait for the fish. When you have a sunfish playing with your line, you will know it because you will feel the bite on your line. You simply set the hook and reel the fish upwards once you’re sure that you have hooked your fish.
Tip #5: Don’t Use Too Big of a Bobber
You want to use a smaller bobber when you go fishing for sunfish because of how a bigger bobber puts up greater resistance. You don’t want this because if the sunfish sense the resistance on the line, they will bite the bait and most likely spit it out.
Tip #6: How Deep to Set Your Bobber
In general, you will want to set your bobber at between 1 foot to 8 feet of water. How much you choose depends on the depth of the water. Usually, when fishing for sunfish, you don’t want to have your boat in water deeper than 10 feet in the summer season. The sunfish tend to swim out into deeper water during the winter months.
Tip #7: Let the Bait Touch the Bottom?
One of the fishing techniques that has occasionally been used has been to cast out into the water and let the line drop to the bottom of the waterbed. You want to use as little of weight as possible because this will help it to sink slowly. In this way, the sunfish also won’t sense resistance when they go to pick up the bait. Many times, you can cast your bait with little to no weight at all.
The fun thing about fishing for sunfish is that you can often see them going crazy over your bait if you cast close enough to watch them.
Tip #8: How to Cast
Let’s say that you don’t seem to be getting bites. What do you do next? If you don’t seem to be getting bites at the end of your line, you will want to reel it in and cast again. In general, you will want to wait for a few minutes before giving up hope and casting to another spot. In some cases, the problem of not catching any fish may be the spot altogether. On a lake, the fish are not evenly distributed, and you will find some areas where you have more sunfish than in other areas.
Tip #9: Where to Find Sunfish
You want to look by the brush, rocks and weed cover to locate the sunfish. Hot shallow water attracts them like wild in the summer months, but you might find them suspended and floating in deeper water during the winter season.
Many times, all you have to do to catch sunfish in the summer season comes down to looking under the dock. Especially in the summer season, sunfish will be looking for places where they can get into the shade and cooler water. This means that fallen tree branches will also prove another great option when it comes to fishing for sunfish. You might look for the beds in the back of a protected pocket with gravel or sand.
Some of the areas where you can look for them include:
- Sunken brush
- Weed lines
- Rocky points
- Underwater humps
Tip #10: Use a Lighter Line
You want to use a 6-pound line in the early spring of the year, but as the summer season rolls around, you may want to switch it out to a 4-pound line. In this way, you don’t have to worry that the line will snag on the weeds.
In addition, a 4 to 6-pound line ensures that you can still crank in the occasional bass that might bite at the end of your line.
To get around the problem of having to restring your poles, you can simply keep multiple fishing lines in the boat. This also has the advantage that if you have a buddy along with, you can have them fishing as well.
Tip #11: Cut the Worms in Half
You will get more out of your bait when you cut the worms in half. Not to mention, sunfish are smaller, and they won’t necessarily go after the bigger baits because of how it is too big for their mouths. In general, sunfish don’t act as aggressively toward baits as what northern pike will act, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still catch many of them. In fact, they’re some of the most abundant and easy-to-catch fish around.
Tip #12: Jig the Hook Around
In some cases, you can catch more sunfish through jigging the hook around a little. It will catch their attention. You don’t want to do this too hard. Instead, give the bait a light tug, and you will see the fish come to it. When you fish for sunfish, typically you will catch more than sunfish. You will often catch bass and perch as well, which makes this form of fishing even more exciting.
Tip #13: How to Get Cheap Sunfish Bait
Typically, you can get cheap bait through digging up worms in your garden or backyard, rather than having to go to the bait shop. In this way, you never have to worry about going to the bait shop. You can save your cash for other more important things like snacks for fishing and gas for your boat–unless you want to row your boat around the lake.
Along with worms, you can also do this with grasshoppers. If your community seems to have many of them, you can catch the grasshoppers and use them as bait for fishing. The sunfish love grasshoppers as a type of novel bait that they have most likely never seen before.
Tip #14: How Long Should You Wait After Casting?
In general, you should wait around five minutes after you have casted to see if you can crank any sunfish in. If you don’t seem to get any bites in that area, you may want to crank it in and cast for more attractive waters.
If you don’t seem to be getting bites after five minutes, you can usually assume that the fish won’t bite there. This can help you to identify the best places to attract the fish. As you reel in your bobber, you can make periodic stops to see if you haven’t identified a school of sunfish in the water.
You will crank it in and repeat the process. Eventually, you will find a spot where the sunfish like to bite.
Tip #15: How to Know When the Fish Bite
Just because the bobber moves doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a fish on your line. In fact, sunfish have a reputation for being finicky, and you would do well to heed this as truth. You can tell when the sunfish has taken your hook when you see the bobber go under, and it goes off to the side. This will usually indicate that you have a sunfish on your line.
Once you have a sunfish on your line, jerk the hook gently upwards and off to the side in the direction opposite of the hook. This will further snag the sunfish on your line.
Tip #16: Drift across the Lake
As you drift on the lake, you may come across some awesome fishing opportunities. You will drift around and have the hook in the water.
You will still want to make sure that you keep the hook anywhere from 10 to 15 feet of water. In particular, you might try the drifting strategy through drifting to an area where the fish have been before. Once you have found a spot where they’re biting, drop the anchor and go to town!
Tip #17: You Don’t Always Need a Bobber
In particular, in areas where you don’t have a lot of underwater foliage, you could drop a line without a bobber because it gives you an unobstructed view of the fish.
You might even allow for the hook to gently sink into the gravel or sand. This especially becomes a valuable technique in the early spring when you don’t have a lot of weed growth. However, it works anywhere where you don’t have a lot of foliage.
You can gently glide your hook over to the big sunfish. The one thing to remember: Sunfish don’t act aggressively towards bait, and they will most likely nibble on the bait before they decide to go all out on it.
Tip #18: Fish the Shallow Waters
The biggest advantage of sunfish is that you can catch them almost anywhere. In general, they tend to congregate closer to the shallow waters. You might look for the sunfish around brush, weeds, rocks and docks. You can find the sunfish in any one of these areas.
Tip #19: Look for Drop-off Points
A lot of fish like to hide in drop-off points, and you can usually find them hiding in some of these areas. The sunfish will often hide closer to this area because of how these drop-off points provide them with some hiding.
Tip #20: Winter Fishing
When you go fishing for sunfish in the winter season, you will usually want to go after them in the deeper water. Most fish during this time will swim to the deeper parts of the lake. Another thing that you need to keep in mind with sunfish in the winter is that they will act even less aggressively. Their movements start to slow down to conserve energy.
Tip #21: Fish During the Day
You can still fish at night. In fact, I have caught my share of sunfish at night, but you will catch more of them during the day because of how the sunfish feed by sight. They eat more during this time, and you will find the activity as better.
In the summer months, you might try to fish for them in the early mornings, but you can have an equal level of success in the later evenings before the sun sets. In fact, my mom used to say that the sunfish started to bite usually around 6:00 pm in the summer season. This is usually a good figure to go by, but it depends on the state that you live in.
These are some of the ways that you can catch more fish. Try this out in the coming summer, and you will see what an incredible difference that it makes for your fishing. Hopefully, you can use this to catch more sunfish. In general, I often recommend that beginners do sunfishing because of how easy it is to catch them.