Scouting some area north of my usual stomping grounds I check up on a few ponds that I fished a year ago. Upon arrival I can tell the recent storms have churned up the already stained water. To make matters worse, my waders decided to start letting water in on both sides. Had to pull the bellyboat out, switch clothes and check to make sure I didn’t soak the cell phone for the fourth or fifth time. Shorebang things for a moment while my head starts coming up with a Plan B.
Reach the Plan B spot somewhat late in the morning and see the bluegill are active. Looking several feet into the shallows the commotion was easily visible. Some fish are guarding nests, some fish are waiting to spawn and other fish are darting in and out to eat whatever they can. Upon seeing the active panfish my bass-chasing plan goes right out the window. Quick change up to the micro section and I find myself in Gill-Plink City.
A few of these gills were in the 7-8 inch range. I am sure there might be a few in the 9-10 inch class but wind, lack of boatage and the impending crowds left me with only a few shallow shoreline areas. Getting a first look at this location as well as a few quality panfish is still a good amount of bounty for a backup plan this late in the day. These locations are fairly close to a major city populace so crowd factor is always part of the equation. Now that I have a visual lay of the land my planning can go forward on a Plan A trip for this location. Thick schools of panfish generally mean healthy bass populations and worth another look someday.
Colorado has several species of sunfish. Identification between the various types can be difficult especially with frequent hybridization. Bluegill can be distinguished from other sunfish by the smaller mouths and the dark spot on the outside edge of the gill plate. Other sunfish may have smaller mouths as well but will have a red mark on the edge of the dark dot similar to the pumpkinseed sunfish below.
The gear can be anything micro hook size #10 to #6. Be cautious with smaller sized hooks and larger gills as they will inhale the smaller baits costing time in the removal or harming the fish. I will toss 1\8 to 1\16oz grubs and baby shad patterns ideally on 4lb line. Mainly geared up for bass I made due with the 6lb. This was one moment where I was kicking myself for not brining the long rod. Then we would be talking a complete gill slamfest.
All in all the trip paid off on a few levels. Having actually brought some backup clothes for once really saved me. The morning outdoor strip down was not part of the plan but the only way to get back in the game. I scouted a few more areas well beyond my normal target range and still caught fish despite many setbacks. It always helps having a Plan B or even C in life as the landscape is forever changing.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.