Wednesday, February 07, 2024

The 5 Waves of Sunfish

One of my favorite alien invasion movies is "The 5th Wave" starring Chloe Grace Moretz. In part because Ms Moretz is a great action film heroine. And in part because the story makes far more sense than most others. If an alien race wanted to invade Earth, given the small amount of resources they could bring through the vastness of space, a series of devastating non-confrontational attacks works far better than an all-out military assault.

Speaking of invasions, we have a series of panfish invasions to shallow water starting right now. For us humans, our weapons in this battle will be lightweight fly rods, loaded with various bug and minnow imitations.

The 1st Wave are small bream of various species looking for any feeding opportunity. They'll have a pale color to them. It's mostly a sign that the days are getting longer and water is getting warmer.  This is happening right now.

The 2nd Wave are large redears. The biggest redears in any water spawn early, usually in late February, and in water 3 to 5 feet deep. Cap Spiders, Hares Ears, Jitterbees, Fluff Butts - any fly that gets to the bottom where the fish hold tight - will work.

The 3rd Wave are crappie. Sacalait begin moving to the shallows as early as mid-February but the peak is sometime late February to mid-March.  Look for any structure close to shore, e.g, docks, cypress trees, sunken logs, etc. Although Fluff Butts are the primary weapon against their invasion, Woolybuggers, Cap Spiders, Wet Flies, various beadhead nymphs, will work. When fished under a strike indicator, it allows the angler to work the fly close to structure longer.

The 4th Wave are big bluegills. Like with redears, the largest bluegill spawn earlier than the rest. Timeline is usually early March to mid-April. The beds are usually shallower than with redears and this allows patterns like Slowing Sinking Spiders, Wet Flies, and even poppers to be added into the arsenal.

Then there's the 5th Wave. These are mid-size to large bream of various species that are actively feeding on bugs. This is a time when solid numbers can be caught, and with the water still cool, the fights are scrappy! Usually early April to mid-May. At this point, the "gobbules" will eat just about any bug, minnow, shrimp or worm imitation. But I prefer to fish popping bugs or Triangle Bugs because the eats can be explosive!

So get your tackle ready, your flies tied or purchased. The invasion of sunfish is about to begin, and unlike an alien invasion, it's a fight we can win.