Pumpkinseed sunfish, its habitats, description, fishing methods.
Sunfish are the fish that most young anglers catch while learning the sport of fishing. Pumpkinseed do not grow big, but they are nice to look at and they are very aggressive. They prefer slack water in ponds, lakes and some streams, usually hang out near the shorelines. They feed on insects, worms and tiny bait fish.
A combination of understanding the fish and the techniques used to catch them will help you to hook more fish to the end of your line. Better knowing and understanding of the fish that you are trying to catch will make you a more successful angler, whether you are fishing for trout on a river or surfing on the beach or trolling on the open water.
The pumpkinseed - Lepomis gibbosus is a freshwater fish of the sunfish family, is also as punky, pond perch, sun bass, crapet-soleil, kivver or kivvie, yellow sunfish, and simply sunfish, sunny. It is native to northeastern North America, from New Brunswick to South Carolina but it has been introduced elsewhere in North America as well as throughout much of Europe where it is considered an invasive species. They are much more common in lakes and reservoirs of Northern Ohio.
Pumpkinseeds present an oval silhouette and are very compacted across; it is this body shape like the seed of a pumpkin. They are a very colorful, deep-bodied, slab-sided fish with a small mouth. They have an orange to yellow belly and breast and many small orange, yellow, blue, and emerald spots scattered over their yellow sides, back is brown to olive. They also have many spots on their dorsal fin, and much like Longear Sunfish and
Green Sunfish they have 7-10 wavy blue lines on their cheek. They have sharp spines in the dorsal and anal fins. The ear flap or opercle is black with a distinctive red-orange spot at the rear edge. The opercle flap is also very short compared to that of a
Longear Sunfish. The fish coild reach a maximum length of about 16 inches (40 cm), the sizes of 6–8 inches (15–20 cm) are more typical. Weights are usually less than 1lb (450 gr.), but could be a little larger.
Sides of body with 7-10 faint vertical bands (especially prominent in female). Several narrow, wavy, emerald or blue lines alternating with orange-brown lines radiate back- ward from snout and eye. Breeding male more brilliantly colored than fe- male; breeding female exhibiting more prominent dark, vertical bands.
Pumpkinseeds prefer clear, non-flowing shallow water with some weed cover. This species prefers substrates of organic debris and solid flooded aquatic vegetation. They are typical fish of ponds and small lakes, preferring water temperatures of 39–72 °F (4–22 °C). They are active during the day and rest on the bottom at night. They eat a variety of insects, including mosquito larvae, along with small mollusks and crustaceans. They also feed on smaller fish, including smaller pumpkinseeds. In the shallow areas of which they are typical, the fish exploit the entire water column from the bottom to surface. Pumpkinseed Sunfish are rarely found in fast flowing streams.
Spawning occurs from late May to early August (peaking in June) at water temperatures between 67-80ºF in shallow water 6 to 12 inches deep. Pumpkinseeds are usually one of the first sunfish species to spawn in the spring. Sexual maturity starts after two years. In late spring males are digging the nests in colonies on gravel bottoms. The males are territorial and chase even early-arriving females away. When a female reaches a nest, she is joined by the male, and eggs are deposited in a cloud of milt. The female will lie between 1,600 to 2,900 eggs. The eggs settle and stick to the pebbles. The female departs as soon as the eggs have been deposited. Males may welcome several females over several days. Several females may lay eggs in a single nest. The male guards the nest until the eggs hatch in a few days. The males continue to guard the offspring, herding them into a ball-like cloud. After a week or two, the young gain sufficient energy and maintaining the order of the cloud becomes impossible at which point the offspring disperse and the male departs the nest. Pumpkinseeds are known to interbreed with the closely-related bluegill, which they resemble in form and coloration.
The pumpkinseed, like other sunfishes, is very popular with anglers. The fish is often the first one caught by young anglers. The fish is considered to be a fine food fish although it is less prized than the bluegill. Pumpkinseeds feed all day and can be caught with live bait or with small lures. They actively fight the line as they are reeled in. This species is regarded as a panfish due to its size and edibility.
The best time to fish is during spawning season, running from late-May to late June. At that time, they are found in the shallows, generally along weedy edges, and are easy to catch. The best hours to catch Sunfish are early morning and in the evening, although they can be caught any time of the day or night.
Pole fishing is one of the best methods to catch Pumpkinseeds. Ultra light, 12 to 18 feet length poles, small float with a minimum of resistance work great with the minnow, earthworms or night crawlers. Sunfish normally nibble carefully on the bait, so thread the worm on the hook until the hook is completely covered, or use just a piece of the worm.
During the early season, fly fishing with small red and white, yellow and black or black and white popping bugs, black or brown rubber spiders or small black or brown nymph flies is an excellent method to catch Pumpkinseed. Rubber spiders and nymph flies of black or brown colors usually work best. No. 5 or No. 6 fly rods are the best.
During the hot months later in the season, the Pumpkinseed Sunfish will be in deeper 10 to 15 feet water. Bait casting, still fishing are also great methods, using light 2 to 5 lb test leaders and of at least 7 to 9 feet are advised. In most instances, long casts are needed to catch the larger fish. Ultra-light or Medium light spinning tackle with very small lures or a small bobber and worm also is effective. Live baits for Sunfish include earthworms, grubs, crickets, grasshoppers, pieces of crayfish and leeches.