A blog of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

Sun, Sundays & Sunfish

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

I love May in Oklahoma. The weather is wacky, backyard barbeques have begun and my favorite neighborhood pond foe destroys everything that hits the water.

Pond sunfish in May are a whole different breed of biters than the other 11 months of the year. They are preparing to spawn and become ultra-aggressive. It’s the only time of year where 10+ inch fish are the norm and can be easily taken on artificial offerings and flies.

However, a small plain shank hook with a piece of worm, corn kernel or crappie nibble affixed to the hook point, fished less than a foot below a stick bobber, will have your reeling hand numb in about an hour.

Fishing with bait below a bobber will yield the most fish in an outing and a few big ones to boot, but using a 1/32nd ounce jighead paired with a 1.5” naturally colored tube will weed through the smaller fish and generally only hookup fish 8-inches or bigger. These fish are perfect sized for filleting and having an afternoon family fish fry.

I always think of fishing for sunfish on sunny Sundays in May. Whether it’s a backyard cookout or needing something to do after church, families are never very far from a pond, Close to Home area, or city lake to get after these powerful panfish.

May and June are typically the best months of the year to take your kids fishing or introduce a friend or family member to fishing for the first time.

The setup is simple: pre-rig rods before hitting the water with a small plain shank hook (size 6 or 8), a small piece of split shot on the line a fingernail above the eyehole of the hook, and a small stick bobber 6- to 12-inches above the hook.

Bring a few extra hooks, split shot and bobbers in case of snags. Then choose your preferred bait choice. Hard to beat a piece of red worm or night crawler, but a can of corn or a bottle of crappie nibbles usually performs just as well and doesn’t make nearly the mess.

Focus your efforts along the shoreline. In clearer water, you will be able to see fish making their spawning beds. Cast into the middle of bedding areas and on the deep side where the bedding areas end.

Move often until you find fish. They stack up in the hundreds and sometimes thousands at this time of year. Once you’ve found them, you should be able to fish the same spot all day without many lulls in the bite.

Tech Tip

Make sure to bring a pair of small pliers or forceps in case fish get hooked in the back of the mouth or throat. If you can’t remove the hook without hurting the gills, simply cut the line just inside the fish’s mouth. The hook will rust out and the fish will survive, but attempting to get the hook back when it is near the gills will almost certainly result in the fish’s death. So always cut the line if you plan on releasing the fish.

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