While fly fishermen have greatly expanded the scope of their angling pursuits over the past decade, from bass, striper, redfish, carp, and gar, there is little doubt that trout still represent the crown jewel for most fly fishermen. One surprising quarry might challenge trout as the most targeted fish for fly anglers: the bluegill. Bluegill, and other related sunfish, are extremely abundant throughout the US. Pretty much any permanent body of water too warm for trout will have them. For that reason they are an extremely popular target for fly fishermen.
The months of May and June are the best for bluegill fishing across most of the country. Most species of sunfish spawn during this time, creating large round indentations across the bottoms of ponds and lakes. If you can find a sandy bottom in 2-6′ of water, odds are it will be covered in sunfish beds. During this time large males guard these beds and aggressively attack anything that comes near. These fish are often extremely colorful and fight hard, and nobody will care if you take a few home for the frying pan.
Sunfish take essentially the same fly patterns you throw for trout. A small wooly booger, a hares ear, or large stonefly nymph stripped slowly across the bottom will probably entice plenty of bites to keep you busy for an entire afternoon. In the evenings you will probably be able to get them to take dries. Large hoppers, stimmies, or small poppers work very well. To pick up fish that short strike the dry, try dropping a small nymph a foot or so below your dry fly. A 9′ 4 or 5wt is ideal for sunfish, but pretty much whatever rod you prefer for trout will work fine. Remember to sign up for the Match the Hatch Subscription so you can focus on the fish while we stock your flybox!